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Police Chief in US City Resigns After Officer Kills Black Man While Trying to Arrest Him

Placards in reference to the Black Lives Matter campaign are seen placed in the gates to Oriel College during a protest for the removal of a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes on the outside of the college in Oxford. (REUTERS)

Placards in reference to the Black Lives Matter campaign are seen placed in the gates to Oriel College during a protest for the removal of a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes on the outside of the college in Oxford. (REUTERS)

The shooting comes as the US faces a historic reckoning on systemic racism, with mass civil unrest ignited by the May 25 killing of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, while in police custody.

The police chief of the US city of Atlanta resigned after an officer fatally shot a black man while trying to arrest him, the mayor said Saturday, amid ongoing protests in the country against racism and police brutality.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has been touted as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, said Chief Erika Shields had worked for Atlanta's police department for more than two decades.

"Because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief," the mayor said in televised comments.

The shooting comes as the US faces a historic reckoning on systemic racism, with mass civil unrest ignited by the May 25 killing of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, while in police custody.

Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests which spread first around the country then the globe in the weeks since have forced a conversation on the legacies of slavery, colonialism and white violence against people of color, as well as the militarization of police in America.

The Atlanta victim, identified by police as 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, was killed on Friday night.

He had been asleep in his car at a fast food restaurant drive-through, and employees called police to complain he was blocking other customers, an official report said.

He failed a sobriety test and resisted when police tried to arrest him, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

Surveillance video showed "that during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer's Tasers and began to flee from the scene," the report continued.

"Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer. The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks," it stated.

Brooks was taken to a hospital but died after surgery, it said, adding that one officer was injured.

Bottoms, who spoke after protesters in Atlanta took to the streets again to demonstrate against Brooks' death, said the officer who killed him has been fired.

first published:June 14, 2020, 08:22 IST