Atlanta Police Deny Blue Flu Walkout After Rayshard Brooks Officers Charged

The Atlanta Police Department has downplayed reports that a number of officers have downed tools in protest at charges being brought against two policemen in connection to the shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

The department responded to reports that an unknown number of officers either stopped working or simultaneously called in sick—a strike action dubbed "blue flu"—after the announcement two of their own are facing criminal charges over the fatal shooting of the black man outside a Wendy's restaurant on June 12.

Garrett Rolfe, who has since been fired from the department, is facing a total of 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and violations to his oath of office.

Officer Devin Brosnan, who was also at the scene of the shooting, is being charged with aggravated assault and two violations of oath of office.

Vince Champion, southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police officers, said that police officers had stopped answering calls mid-shift in Zones 3 and 6, which covers the area of Atlanta where the officer-involved shooting of Brooks took place.

"The union, we would never advocate this. We wouldn't advocate a blue flu," Champion told Decaturish. "We don't know the numbers. Apparently we're learning that command staff are asking outlying counties for support and aren't getting it."

In a statement, the Atlanta Police Department denied the reports of a walkout but admitted there was a higher number of officers not arriving for work than normal.

"Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate," APD tweeted.

"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."

The non-profit group Georgia Law Enforcement, who are currently raising money for Rolfe's legal fees, mentioned an apparent strike action on Facebook.

"It is being reported that multiple shifts within the Atlanta Police Department have walked off the job tonight, calls are pending, and the PD is begging surrounding agencies for help," the group wrote.

Local media said there is evidence that other jurisdictions were patrolling areas of the city instead of the Atlanta Police Department.

Atlanta INtown Paper reported that there were fewer officers than usual in the city's Zone 6, with Georgia State Patrol unit and Fulton County Sheriff units also seen in the city on Wednesday night.

Speaking to CNN, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she is not sure how many officers hadn't shown up for work on Wednesday, but that the city did have enough resources "to cover us through the night."

"Our streets won't be any less safe because of the number of officers that have called out," Bottom said.

"The good thing is that we are not the only agency in Atlanta. We have other partners across the metropolitan area from the state and county, so we will be fine.

"The thing I'm most concerned about is how we repair the moral in our police department and how do we ensure that our communities are safe as they interact with our police officers," she added.

"We have a lot of men and women who work for our police department who care about this city and they work each and every day with integrity and with honest interactions with our communities. Those are the people who I expect will show up for work.

"If we have officers who don't want bad officers weeded out of the force, then that's another conversation we need to have with all of our officers."

Rolfe and Bronson were responding to reports of a DUI when they found Brooks asleep in his car in the Wendy's parking lot.

While allegedly resisting arrest, Brooks snatched one of the officer's tasers and pointed it at the policemen. Prosecutors claim that Brooks was fleeing and was more than 18 feet away when Rolfe shot him.

The Atlanta Police Department has been contacted for further comment.

Rayshard Brooks
A protestor blocks the traffic outside Georgia State Capitol during a protest on the fifth day following Rayshard Brooks death by police in a restaurant parking lot, in Atlanta, Georgia on June 17, 2020. Atlanta Police are denying reports of an officer walkout following murder and aggravated assault charges being brought against the two officers involved in the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty