2020 Atlanta police sickout
The 2020 Atlanta police sickout in mid-June was the response of members of the Atlanta Police Department to the criminal charges filed against two officers involved in the killing of Rayshard Brooks. On June 17, 2020, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, Paul L. Howard, Jr., announced 11 charges including felony murder against the police officer who killed Brooks, with three additional charges filed against the second officer involved.
On June 21, 2020, Atlanta's interim police chief, Rodney Bryant, announced that "a higher than average number of officers" had called in sick ("blue flu") over the preceding days, which had prompted the department "to shift resources to ensure proper coverage" in the City of Atlanta.
On June 12, two Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers were involved in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, resulting from an arrest for DUI after a traffic stop at a Wendy's restaurant.
One officer was immediately fired and the other put on administrative leave. Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields resigned the next day and during a subsequent riot, the Wendy's was burned down, fire was set to several nearby cars, and a CNN camera was broken.
On June 17, before the conclusion of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) investigation, Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. announced eleven charges against the officer who fired the fatal shot, Garrett Rolfe (felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations and damage to property) and three charges against the other officer, Devin Brosnan (aggravated assault and two police oath violations). The GBI reported it was not informed or consulted before the charges were announced.
Brosnan was released on June 18 after posting a $50,000 signature bond and Rolfe was then held without bond. On June 30 Rolfe was granted a $500,000 bond with conditions. He was released on July 1.
The sickout was apparently a reaction to the criminal charges filed by the district attorney. In the days after the charges were announced around 170 officers called in sick, and officers in three out of the city's six police zones did not respond to calls. Exact numbers were not released, but on June 18 only one officer showed up to work in one precinct to which several dozen are assigned. On the evening of June 19 no officer reported for duty in one zone, leaving only the three supervisors. The walkout was concentrated in the south and southwestern police zones. Arrests citywide dropped by 71% during the sickout. The department said they had "enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents."
An official of the Atlanta local of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers said the union did not advocate the sickout; he also said it was a "reflection of the officers’ nervousness or, you know, hesitation to be the next officer that’s put in jail."
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