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2020 Atlanta police sickout

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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.[1]


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.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

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)[10][11] 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.[12][13][14][15]

Brosnan was released on June 18 after posting a $50,000 signature bond and Rolfe was then held without bond.[16][17] On June 30 Rolfe was granted a $500,000 bond with conditions.[18] He was released on July 1.[19]


The sickout was apparently a reaction to the criminal charges filed by the district attorney.[20][21][22][23] 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.[24] 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.[20] On the evening of June 19 no officer reported for duty in one zone, leaving only the three supervisors.[25] The walkout was concentrated in the south and southwestern police zones.[26] Arrests citywide dropped by 71% during the sickout.[27] The department said they had "enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents."[23]

An official of the Atlanta local of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers said the union did not advocate the sickout;[26] 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."[27]

See also[edit]

  • George Floyd protests
  • Murray-Hill riot
  • 1981 Milwaukee Police Strike
  • 1971 NYPD Work Stoppage


  1. Collin Kelley, Interim Atlanta police chief addresses officer sickout in wake of Rayshard Brooks charges, Reporter Newspapers (June 21, 2020).
  2. "Atlanta police chief resigns after fatal police shooting". Associated Press. June 13, 2020. Archived from the original on June 13, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-13. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. Moshtaghian, Artemis; Croft, Jay (June 13, 2020). "Atlanta police officer shoots a black man dead at a fast-food drive-thru, authorities say". CNN. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  4. Hauck, Grace (June 13, 2020). "Black Atlanta man Rayshard Brooks dies after police shooting at a Wendy's drive-thru, investigators say". USA Today. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  5. Siegel, Rachel (June 13, 2020). "Atlanta police chief resigns after law enforcement fatally shoots black man". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  6. Osborne, Mark; Hoyos, Joshua (13 June 2020). "Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigns in wake of fatal shooting". ABC News. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  7. "Rayshard Brooks shooting: Protesters block traffic on Atlanta highway". WJAX. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved June 14, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Washington, Audrey. "LIVE UPDATES: Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed goes up in flames". WSBTV. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-14. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. Artemis Moshtaghian; Jay Croft; Paul P. Murphy; Kelly McCleary; Amir Vera. "Atlanta officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks has been terminated". CNN. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  10. Carr, Nicole. "Many question DA's decision to charge officers in Brooks case before end of GBI investigation". wsbtv.com. Cox Media Group. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  11. Hansen, Zachary; Boone, Christian. "Former Atlanta cop charged with felony murder in Rayshard Brooks' death". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  12. Siddiqui, Sabrina (2020-06-17). "Atlanta Police Officer Who Shot Rayshard Brooks Charged With Felony Murder". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved 2020-06-17. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. "Rayshard Brooks shooting: Atlanta officer charged with felony murder". The Guardian. June 17, 2020. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Saxon, Angela (2020-06-17). "GBI was unaware of today's Atlanta press conference regarding Rayshard Brooks shooting". wfxg.com. WFXG. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  15. Adrianne M Haney. "GBI says it was not consulted by DA before charges filed against officers in Rayshard Brooks case". 11alive. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  16. St. Henry, Meredith (June 19, 2020) Officer Garrett Rolfe Held Without Bond For Killing of Rayshard Brooks, WWTV
  17. "Ex-officer, officer charged in Rayshard Brooks' shooting surrender to authorities". fox6now.com. FOX Television Stations, LLC. June 18, 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  18. Watson, Andrea V.(June 30, 2020). "Former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe Granted $500,000 Bond - A Fulton County judge granted bond for the officer charged with felony murder in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks". patch.com. Patch Media. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  19. Kirkland, Pamela; Barajas, Angela (July 1, 2020). "Former Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks is released". cnn.com. Cable News Network.Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Brumback, Kate (18 June 2020). "Atlanta police call out sick to protest charges in shooting". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  21. "Despite assurances from department, overnight police radio reveals bouts of silence and calls left unanswered". WXIA-TV.
  22. Norman, Greg (June 19, 2020). "Atlanta cops continuing to call out of work, interim police chief vows 'we will get through this'". Fox News.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Steve Almasy; Ryan Young; Devon M. Sayers. "Atlanta police shortages continue for second day". CNN.
  24. Hollie Silverman and Ray Sanchez. "About 170 Atlanta officers called out sick after cops were charged in Rayshard Brooks' death". CNN.
  25. "Atlanta police sickout calls continue for third day". WXIA-TV.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Chidi, George (17 June 2020). "Atlanta Police walk out following murder charge against officer who shot Rayshard Brook". Decaturish.com. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Belcher, Richard. "Crime numbers across Atlanta drop dramatically after protests, records show". WSBTV. Retrieved 2020-06-27.

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