Atlanta Police Call Out Sick to Protest Criminal Charges Against Officers in Rayshard Brooks Killing: Reports

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Atlanta police officers began calling out sick hours after the Fulton County District Attorney announced charges including murder against fellow cops in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, according to several reports. There were no reported numbers on how many "blue flu" participants stayed off the job, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN she was not worried.

"We do have enough officers to cover us through the night," she said Wednesday night. "Our streets won't be any less safe because of the number of officers who called out."

The Atlanta Police Department confirmed a higher-than-normal number of sick officers, but said there was no organized walk out in response to criminal charges being filed against officers involved in the fatal shooting of Brooks, whose death prompted additional protests against racism and police brutality in the already roiling city.

"Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate," the department wrote on Twitter. "The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents."

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutor Paul Howard announced 11 charges, including felony murder, against fired officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks in the back during a confrontation Saturday in the parking lot of a Wendy's fast food franchise.

Devin Brosnan, the other officer on the scene, was charged with aggravated assault charge for allegedly standing on Brooks after he had been shot.

Attorneys for both officers denied wrongdoing on the part of their clients after the charges were announced.

A law firm representing Rolfe said he responded to what he thought was a gunshot. "Fearing for his safety, and the safety of the civilians around him, Officer Rolfe dropped his taser and fired his service weapon at the only portion of Mr. Brooks that presented to him, Mr. Brooks' back," a statement released by the LoRusso Law Firm said. 

Howard said during his press conference that Brosnan had agreed to be a state witness against Rolfe, something Brosnan's lawyer later denied.

"To be clear, there is no agreement that our client is going to testify at any hearing," lawyer Amanda Clark Palmer told CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday night. "There's no need for a plea deal, she said. "In my view, he doesn't need a deal. He shouldn't have been charged with a crime in the first place. He is not a state's witness. He is a witness."

She said her client shouldn't have been charged with aggravated assault because "an assault puts somebody in fear of immediately receiving a violent bodily injury. That wasn't Devin's intent."

Brosnan and Rolfe surrendered to authorities on Thursday. The District Attorney said on CNN Thursday they would not be seeking the death penalty in the case. 

On Thursday, the Atlanta Police Foundation said it would pay a $500 bonus to every Atlanta police officer as a thank you for the long hours and hard work they put in in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matters protests, WSB-TV reported

More than $2 million funds raised by the foundation raised will be donated. No city monies will be used to pay out the bonuses. The organization also will purchase 20 police cars to replace vehicles damaged in protests, according to the station.

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