Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigns following the death of Rayshard Brooks

Shields steps aside as chief after three and a half years, but will stay in the Atlanta Police Department in a role yet to be announced

Erika Shields
Former APD Chief Erika Shields talks to protestors and the media during the May 29 protest against police brutality.

Photograph by Thomas Wheatley

Just after 5 p.m. on June 13, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference at City Hall where she announced the resignation of Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields. The resignation, which Bottoms said was Shields’s decision, came the day after the death of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by an APD officer in the parking lot of the Wendy’s on University Avenue.

“There has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates with interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect,” Bottoms said. “Chief Erika Shields have been a solid member of APD for over two decades and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta. And 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 so that the city may move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities.”

Shields released this short statement: “For more than two decades, I have served alongside some of the finest men and women in the Atlanta Police Department. Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. APD has my full support, and Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. I have faith in the Mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

Deputy Chief Rodney Bryant is now the interim chief of police, and Bottoms says a nationwide search for Shields’s replacement will commence. Shields, who became chief under former Mayor Kasim Reed in December 2016, will not leave the APD entirely but her role has yet to be determined. Bottoms says an advisory committee to examine APD’s force procedures has already convened and expects feedback in two weeks and final recommendations in 45 days.

Earlier in the day, the Georgia NAACP called for Shields’s resignation. Brooks’s killing follows two high-profile APD incidents in recent weeks: two college students were tased and forcibly removed from their car on May 30, and dental hygienist said collarbone was broken after being bodyslammed by an APD officer in Buckhead on May 29. Bottoms said that she didn’t believe Brooks’s death was “a justified use of deadly force,” and called for the immediate termination of the officer who shot Brooks. That officer was later identified as Garrett Rolfe. The other officer, Devin Bronsan, was placed on administrative duty.

Read our full coverage of the Rayshard Brooks case here.

Read our 2017 profile of Shields here.

Correction 6/14/20: An earlier version of this story said that Bronsan had been placed on administrative leave. He has been placed on administrative duty.