Atlanta police have reportedly called in sick for work after charges were issued against two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Interim Chief Rodney Bryant acknowledged that some officers were calling in sick amid the unrest in Atlanta and across the country which has included expressions of anger at police officers.
“Some are angry. Some are fearful. Some are confused on what we do in this space. Some may feel abandoned,” Mr Bryant told the Associated Press. “But we are there to assure them that we will continue to move forward and get through this.”
Mr Bryan confirmed that on Wednesday and Thursday multiple officers called in sick, but he added the city was still adequately protected. A clear number of how many were calling sick was not revealed.
“We do have enough officers to cover us through the night,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN. “Our streets won’t be any less safe because of the number of officers who called out.”
She added: “The thing that I’m most concerned about is how we repair the morale in our police department and how do we ensure our communities are safe as they interact with our police officers.”
Reports indicated that some Atlanta police officers were abandoning their posts as well as calling in sick. But the police department later released a statement on Twitter saying that those reports were false.
“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents,” the tweet read.
It was also confirmed by Mr Bryan that the Atlanta Police Foundation was giving $500 to officers out in the field as a way to boost morale.
The diminished morale among police officers comes as Garrett Rolfe, a white officer who shot Mr Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot, was arrested and charged with felony murder among other charges. He was fired by the police department following the shooting.
Another officer, Devin Brosnan, who allegedly stood on the shoulders of Mr Brooks as he struggled for his life, according to the district attorney, was charged with aggravated assault and violation of his oath. Both have stood by their actions on the night Mr Brooks was shot.
Mr Brooks attempted to run away at one point during his DUI arrest after police were called to the Wendy’s parking lot. He had been asleep in his car at the time.He grabbed a taser during the interaction, which he pointed at the officers before he was fatally shot.
But Ms Bottoms, among other officials, has argued that the officers used excessive force, adding the danger Mr Brooks exhibited did not equal a need for the officers to shoot him. She issued an executive order in the wake of Mr Brooks’s death that declared officers are only allowed to use deadly force after all de-escalation techniques are exhausted.
“It is clear we do not have another day, another minute, another hour,” Ms. Bottoms said when announcing the executive order.The officers were fired this week after video footage surfaced of their altercation with Mr Brooks. It also launched a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests, and the Wendy’s where the incident happened was set on fire.