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Atlanta Police Continuing To Call Out Sick Over D.A.’s Decision To Charge Police Officer
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 31: A police officer is seen during a demonstration on May 31, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Across the country, protests have erupted following the recent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Some police officers in the Atlanta Police Department are reportedly continuing to call out sick in protest of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard’s decision to file felony murder charges against former officer Garrett Rolfe for shooting Rayshard Brooks after Brooks fired a taser at Rolfe.

Interim Chief Rodney Bryant told The Associated Press that the sick calls that started on Wednesday continued into Thursday, but said that the department had enough officers to cover the void. Bryant told the AP that officers have worked long hours the last three weeks and have been yelled at, spit on, and had objects thrown at them — some of which has been caught on live television.

“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Bryant said. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”

“At some point, people get tired, I recognize that, and physically exhausted,” Bryant continued. “We will definitely get beyond it, and I’m certain that we will see our sick-outs drop back to normal, average.”

There were widespread reports on Wednesday night that officers were calling out ahead of their shifts and that officers were not responding to calls in multiple zones in the area.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) responded to Howard’s charges against Rolfe and the other officer that was on scene, Devin Brosnan, by saying that they were not consulted on the charges and their investigation into the incident was not over. The GBI said in a statement:

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Atlanta Police Department on Friday night, June 12th, to investigate an officer involved shooting at the Wendy’s Restaurant on University Avenue. We are in the process of conducting this investigation. Although we have made significant progress in the case, we have not completed our work. Our goal in every officer involved shooting case we are requested to review, is to complete a thorough, impartial investigation before we submit the file to the respective District Attorney’s Office.

The GBI was not aware of today’s press conference before it was conducted. We were not consulted on the charges filed by the District Attorney. Despite today’s occurrence, the GBI will complete its mission of completing an impartial and thorough investigation of this incident and we will submit the file, once completed, to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

The AP said that in their interview with Bryant, the interim chief expressed surprise by how quickly the charges were filed and noted that the GBI had not finished their investigation.

On Tuesday, Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, who is black, told CNN that the shooting was “completely justified” and that the district attorney’s remarks at his press conference were “ridiculous.”

Williams told CNN, “There’s nothing malicious or sadistic in the way these officers behaved.”

“And it’s very unfortunate that the law enforcement leaders in the state of Georgia have not come out and stood together on this case,” Williams said. “I think it’s political and it’s senseless. We’re sending the wrong message to our black youth, we’re telling them that it’s OK, that they can run from the police, they can take a weapon from the police, they can fight with the police. And point a weapon at the police, and expect nothing to happen. That is the wrong message to send to black youth.”

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