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Atlanta Mayor Announces Police Reforms With a Series of Executive Orders

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Monday a series of police reforms for the Atlanta Police Department after the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

We do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste. I am signing an administrative order calling upon our chief operating officer, Joshua Williams, to coordinate with the interim chief of police Rodney Bryant to immediately adopt and implement reforms of the standard operating procedures and work rules of A.P.D. concerning their use of force policies. I’m also requiring de-escalation, generally and specifically, prior to the use of deadly force in accordance with the principle that officers should use de-escalation techniques to gain voluntary compliance and avoid or minimize the use of physical force, and to continuously develop updated trained officers in de-escalation techniques.

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Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Monday a series of police reforms for the Atlanta Police Department after the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

From Atlanta to New York to Albuquerque, cities are changing police departments.

Under growing pressure from demonstrators outraged over the police killings of African-Americans, officials across the country announced major police reforms on Monday, further galvanizing a protest movement that has led to a nationwide reckoning over systemic racism.

The New York police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, announced he was disbanding the Police Department’s anti-crime unit, a team of hundreds of plainclothes officers that targeted violent crime and that was involved in some of the city’s most notorious police shootings.

The attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, unveiled a series of recommended measures for police forces in the state, including banning chokeholds, requiring officers to intervene when colleagues use excessive force, and forbidding officers from firing shots at moving vehicles or from them, with rare exceptions.

In Albuquerque, political leaders said the city would take money from the budget of its scandal-plagued police force to create a new community safety department that would likely respond to calls related to homelessness, addiction and mental health.

And days after a black man was killed by a white Atlanta police officer, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a series of executive orders aimed at overhauling how the Police Department uses force.

“It is clear we do not have another day, another minute, another hour,” Ms. Bottoms said of the orders, which came on the heels of the resignation of the city’s white police chief and the termination of the officer who fatally shot the man, Rayshard Brooks.

The announcements, some of which were unexpected or remarkable in their swiftness, followed weeks of protests and public unrest over police brutality after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

Nationwide efforts to tighten the rules governing when and how police officers should use deadly force gained some momentum after the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. But it is in recent weeks that significant policy changes have been adopted by state and city governments, while some protesters outraged by Mr. Floyd’s death continue to call for police departments to be defunded or abolished.

In New York, where the mayor and police officials have been under pressure from protesters to reduce the size of the Police Department, around 600 officers who served on teams that targeted violent crime and illegal guns will be immediately reassigned, Commissioner Shea said at a news conference.

“This is a seismic shift in the culture of how the N.Y.P.D. polices this great city,” he said.

A decision about criminal charges for Rayshard Brooks’s death may come shortly.


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Protesters gathered on Sunday at the site where Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot in Atlanta.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., has said he will make a decision by midweek on whether to file criminal charges in the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, 27, outside a Wendy’s restaurant on Friday night, the latest killing to stir outrage over a long history of deadly violence by the police against African-Americans.

The encounter outside the restaurant was captured on eyewitness videos, police body-camera footage and security camera footage. On Sunday, a spokesman for the Police Department said the officer who shot Mr. Brooks had been fired.

The police were called to the scene on Friday night because Mr. Brooks had fallen asleep in his car while in the restaurant’s drive-through line. Mr. Brooks was awakened and given a sobriety test, which he failed.

After two police officers had been on the scene for 27 minutes, much of that time talking with Mr. Brooks, one of the officers, Garrett Rolfe, attempted to handcuff him, leading to a struggle. The officers tried to stun Mr. Brooks with Tasers, and Mr. Brooks grabbed one of their Tasers and ran away, with Officer Rolfe in pursuit. Mr. Brooks turned at one point to fire the Taser back in Officer Rolfe’s direction; Officer Rolfe then pulled out his handgun and fired at Mr. Brooks three times as he was running away.

The Fulton County medical examiner’s office confirmed on Sunday that Mr. Brooks’s death was a homicide and that the cause of death was “gunshot wounds of the back.” The office’s statement said he had been hit by two shots in the back, causing “organ injuries and blood loss.”

The district attorney, Paul Howard, told CNN that the possible charges against Officer Rolfe included murder, felony murder and involuntary manslaughter. Mr. Howard said he would decide which, if any, charges to bring by midweek. (Felony murder refers to a homicide committed while committing another felony.)

“He did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone,” Mr. Howard said of Mr. Brooks, “and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable.”

Brooks’s family speaks out about loss and a need for systemic change.





‘When Does This Stop?’ Family of Rayshard Brooks Speaks Out

The family of Rayshard Brooks held a news conference in response to his killing, the latest to stir outrage over deadly violence by the police against African-Americans.

“On June 12, one of our biggest fears became our reality. Not only did we lose another black, unarmed male, this time it landed on our front doorstep. Not only are we hurt, we are angry. When does this stop? We’re not only pleading for justice, we’re pleading for change.” “Rayshard Brooks, the name that may start a protest tomorrow or another day in the future. However, the man himself no longer has a future. He can no longer live in the present nor plan for tomorrow. How many more protests will it take — to ensure that the next victim isn’t your cousin, your brother, your uncle, your nephew, your friend or your companion — so that we can finally end the suffering of police excessive force?”

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The family of Rayshard Brooks held a news conference in response to his killing, the latest to stir outrage over deadly violence by the police against African-Americans.CreditCredit…Dustin Chambers/Getty Images

In an emotional news conference, the family of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot and killed on Friday by an Atlanta police officer, attempted to describe how the sense of loss and injustice that they had seen tear through other African-American families was now affecting their own.

“Not only did we lose another black, unarmed male,” said Chassidy Evans, a niece of Mr. Brooks. “This time, it landed on our doorstep.”

Ms. Evans said she had watched in disbelief three weeks ago as protesters swarmed downtown Atlanta, vandalizing buildings and setting a police vehicle on fire. At the time, she said, she had defended the Atlanta police, saying that while the anger of the demonstrators over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was legitimate, the Atlanta police were not to blame.

“This doesn’t happen here — leave them alone,” Ms. Evans recalled thinking, standing before a bank of cameras in a lawyer’s office to represent her family, including Mr. Brooks’s wife, his three young daughters, and cousins and other relatives.

“Here we are, three weeks later,” she told reporters, “those same police took something away from my family we will never get back: Rayshard Brooks.”

The family said that they believed his death had been avoidable, and that their loss, like those of other families of people killed by the police, should be an impetus for systemic change.

“My uncle did not die in vain,” Ms. Evans said. “His life mattered. George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. Michael Brown’s life mattered. Sandra Bland’s life mattered. I’m not only asking the city of Atlanta to stand with us. I’m asking for everyone in this nation to stand with us as we seek justice for Rayshard.”

A 911 dispatcher watching the George Floyd arrest on video raised concerns.

A 911 dispatcher watching surveillance camera footage of the arrest of George Floyd in real time became so concerned by what was unfolding that she called a supervisor with the Minneapolis Police Department to report it, according to new audio released by the city on Monday.

But that supervisor, who was not on the scene during the call, seemed to indicate that there was little reason for concern.

“I don’t know, you can call me a snitch if you want to, but we have the cameras up for 320’s call,” the dispatcher said on the audio recording, referring to the squad responding to the call at Cup Foods, the corner store where Mr. Floyd shopped before his fatal encounter with the police.

“I don’t know if they had to use force or not,” the dispatcher continued, adding that “all of them sat on this man. So I don’t know if they needed to or not, but they haven’t said anything to me yet.”

A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into the neck of Mr. Floyd, who was African-American, for nearly nine minutes as Mr. Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe,” and later went limp.

All four officers involved in the arrest were fired, and Mr. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while the other officers have been accused of aiding and abetting in Mr. Floyd’s death.

In some instances, according to Minneapolis Police Department rules, officers must notify a supervisor when they use force, and the dispatcher appeared to be asking whether what she witnessed required notification.

“Yeah, if they haven’t said anything, this was just a takedown, which doesn’t count,” the supervisor told her, referring to the officers on the scene. “I’ll find out.”

“No problem,” the dispatcher said. “We don’t ever get to see it, so when we see it, we’re just like, ‘Well that looks a little different.’”

A man is shot during a protest of a statue honoring New Mexico’s conquistador.

Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice.

As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in.

The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. It was not clear whether any of them had fired the shot, or whether they were merely being questioned.

The protest turned into pandemonium as protesters screamed and dove for cover and police officers attempted to secure the scene. Witnesses said the gunman was a white man in a blue shirt.

As protesters across the country have targeted a variety of symbols of racial injustice, including statues of Christopher Columbus, the protests in New Mexico are evolving to target symbols of colonial atrocities.

Earlier in the day, authorities in the northern town of Alcalde removed a different statue of Oñate, whose brutal rule as provincial governor put into motion centuries of Spanish rule in the region.

Trump plans an executive order on principles for police training and use of force.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump said he would sign an executive order tomorrow that White House officials said would begin a process of encouraging police departments nationwide to adopt high standards for training and the use of force, among other practices.

“We’re going to have some solutions,” Mr. Trump said. “We need great people in our police departments, and we have mostly great people.”

Mr. Trump’s order will have no immediate practical impact, however. A senior administration official who briefed reporters in a conference call said the order would feature “guiding principles” that must be translated into more specific federal action by the executive branch and through potential congressional legislation.

The official said the order would call for the most modern standards for police training and the use of force; information sharing among police departments to track officers who have been the subject of complaints as they move between jobs; and encouraging programs that support police officers with social workers and other professionals on calls involving issues like mental health and homelessness.

A second official said the executive order would not condition federal dollars on any such actions but would use money to “incentivize” action by police departments.

The signing event will be attended by police officers and representatives, along with the families of people who have been killed by police officers, the first official said, adding that its goal is to “turn the anger in the country into action” and “bring some unification and healing.”

The official added that the executive order had been drawn up in consultation with law enforcement. “You’re never going to solve this problem by demonizing the police,” he added.

The Supreme Court won’t hear cases challenging police immunity.


Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

A widely criticized legal doctrine that makes it hard to sue police officers for misconduct was left in place by the Supreme Court on Monday, when the justices declined to hear appeals in multiple cases on the issue.

The doctrine, known as qualified immunity, has been attacked from across the political spectrum. Justice Clarence Thomas, probably the court’s most conservative member, has written that it was created out of thin air, while Justice Sonia Sotomayor, probably the most liberal of the justices, has written that it created an impenetrable legal barrier protecting the police from accountability.

A federal civil rights law known as Section 1983 allows citizens to sue government officials, including police officers, over violations of constitutional rights. But in a series of decisions over decades, the Supreme Court has read limitations into the law, saying that officials are liable only if the right at issue was clearly established at the time of the conduct in question.

And by “clearly established,” the court has meant something very narrow: There had to be a previous court decision involving nearly identical factual circumstances. That is an almost impossible hurdle to clear in most cases.

A recent Reuters investigation found that the Supreme Court’s decisions on qualified immunity have made it increasingly difficult for plaintiffs to win cases accusing police officers of using excessive force.

The hanging death of a California man, first seen as a suicide, is being investigated.





California Attorney General Pushes Series of Recommended Measures for Police

The attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, also said he was sending investigators to Palmdale, Calif., to look into the death of Robert Fuller, a young black man found hanged from a tree near City Hall.

Today, I’m announcing that my office will send Department of Justice investigators down to Palmdale, Calif., to engage in the investigation of the hanging death of Robert Fuller on June 10, 2020. We are doing all of this and much, much more. We have the experience. And we’re going to take these lessons to help build a better criminal justice system for all Californians. So starting with January of next year, a number of these reform measures are actually going to be required. We’re recommending that agencies move forward and adopt them as quickly as they can. And I’ve spoken to a number of leaders in law enforcement who say they’re contemplating the possibility of actually implementing before the Jan. 1 requirement deadline.

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The attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, also said he was sending investigators to Palmdale, Calif., to look into the death of Robert Fuller, a young black man found hanged from a tree near City Hall.CreditCredit…Apu Gomes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Officials in Palmdale, Calif., said in a news release late Monday that the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office has officially withdrawn its initial assessment that Robert L. Fuller, a black man who was found hanged from a tree near Palmdale City Hall last week, committed suicide.

The city said that it “remains committed to a thorough and complete investigation” into the death of Mr. Fuller, 24, and that it was encouraged by the coroner’s change in assessment.

Earlier on Monday, officials in Los Angeles County said they were still investigating Mr. Fuller’s death despite the coroner’s original assessment, which relatives of Mr. Fuller had disputed. At a news conference, county officials said the investigation would involve toxicology tests, an analysis of Mr. Fuller’s cellphone, canvassing for video footage from the night of his death and other forensic efforts.

Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff, said the investigation would be monitored by the California attorney general’s office and the civil rights division of the F.B.I. “We’re taking all the necessary steps to make sure we’re fully transparent,” he said.

In an initial statement on Friday, the Sheriff’s Department said that “although the investigation is ongoing, it appears Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide.” But at a rally for Mr. Fuller on Saturday, Diamond Alexander, his sister, said through tears that the initial conclusion about her brother’s death did not make sense.

“My brother was not suicidal,” Ms. Alexander said, according to a video of the rally in Palmdale. “He wasn’t.”

At the news conference on Monday, the authorities said that Mr. Fuller’s backpack and cellphone were found near where he died, but that there was no chair or stool.

“The initial report appeared to be consistent with a suicide, but we felt it prudent to roll that back and to continue to look deeper,” Dr. Jonathan Lucas, the county’s chief medical examiner, said at the news conference.

Sheriff Villanueva said investigators would also speak with the authorities in Victorville, Calif., where the body of another black man, Malcolm Harsch, 38, was found hanged from a tree on May 31.

The men’s deaths have struck a chord with people in Southern California and across the United States. A petition demanding a thorough investigation into Mr. Fuller’s death had more than 247,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Protesters in Atlanta demand policing changes and protection of voting rights.





Scenes From N.A.A.C.P. March in Atlanta

Demonstrators filled the streets to protest police violence after the killing of Rayshard Brooks, and the collapse of Georgia’s statewide voting system.

[marchers chanting] Speaker: “— that has never worked for us!” Speaker: “Last Tuesday is a major issue. We know there’s issues with social —” “Black lives will matter in Georgia.” “That whether it [unclear] you in Minneapolis or Brunswick, Ga., or find yourself in Central Park or find yourself in Louisville, Ky., the fact that we’ve got to argue this morning that Black Lives Matter.” Speaker: “Throw somebody out of the White House!” Crowd: “Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Speaker: “This is not a moment, this is a movement.”

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Demonstrators filled the streets to protest police violence after the killing of Rayshard Brooks, and the collapse of Georgia’s statewide voting system.CreditCredit…Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

An N.A.A.C.P. march that sent hundreds of people into the streets of downtown Atlanta on Monday was originally planned to focus on the collapse of Georgia’s statewide voting system last week, forcing some people to wait in lines for more than four hours to vote.

But then came Friday night, and the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks. That turned the march into a protest not only about impediments to voting, but also about the treatment of black people at the hands of the police. Signs in the crowd read “They steal elections,” “End voter suppression” and “Defund police.”

The twin themes were sounded repeatedly. Lloyd Pierce, head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, the city’s N.B.A. franchise, spoke at a morning rally about his pride in being black. Mr. Pierce said he would die a black man, “but I don’t want to die because I’m a black man.”

Wanda Mosley, of the advocacy group Black Voters Matter, accused the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, of failing to act to fix known problems with Georgia’s new $107 million computerized voting system. “If you aren’t able to do your job, resign,” she said.

The peaceful morning march to the State Capitol stood in contrast to the looting that broke out in some places over the weekend, most notably at the Wendy’s restaurant where Mr. Brooks was killed. The building was burned during protests on Saturday night.

Through the weekend, other locations in Atlanta were tense as well, including a police station in Grant Park, a historic residential neighborhood south of downtown. Scores of police officers in riot gear flowed in to protect the station, and used tear gas to repel dozens of protesters on Saturday night.

When the marchers on Monday reached the Capitol, they made specific demands of legislators, including passage of a state hate-crimes law and repealing the state’s citizen’s arrest statute.

That statute was cited this year by a district attorney in Waycross, Ga., who told the police in nearby Glynn County that insufficient probable cause existed to arrest the three white men who pursued an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, through the streets of their neighborhood before killing him.

Progressives tell Biden his policing ideas don’t go far enough.


Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

More than 50 progressive grass-roots groups have signed a letter to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., criticizing his response to the wave of protests over police brutality and criminal justice and saying his proposal to increase spending on a community policing program is “not the answer.”

Mr. Biden’s campaign platform calls for $300 million in additional money for the federal Community Oriented Policing Services program, which he helped create as a senator in 1994. He repeated that proposal as recently as last week. But in their letter, the organizations say Mr. Biden is wrong to push for more federal spending on police departments.

“The COPS program has directly contributed to the increased size and scope of policing in cities across the country, and the subsequent stream of violence and killings perpetrated by law enforcement on Black people in particular,” the letter says.

The groups signing the letter include the Center for Popular Democracy Action, the Working Families Party, the Sunrise Movement and Black Voters Matter.

The groups are asking Mr. Biden to embrace more sweeping proposals outlined by the Movement for Black Lives, like diverting money from police departments to programs that support education, housing and environmental justice. The groups framed their requests as an imperative for Mr. Biden to motivate black voters.

Strong backing from black primary voters propelled Mr. Biden to the Democratic presidential nomination this year, but general-election polling has shown Mr. Biden attracting less black support than Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 election.

“You cannot win the election without the enthusiastic support of Black voters,” the letter to Mr. Biden said. “How you act in this moment of crisis will play a big role in determining how Black voters — and all voters concerned with racial justice — respond to your candidacy. A ‘return to normalcy’ will not suffice.”

A rumor of a fatal police shooting in Minnesota led to a heated protest.

In a sign of the rage over police killings that is boiling around the country, a nonlethal encounter early Monday morning between the police and a black teenager in St. Cloud, Minn., quickly stirred rumors of a fatal shooting as well as a heated protest.

The episode began shortly after midnight, according to the St. Cloud police, when two officers saw reports on social media about a person with a firearm outside a local business. The officers confronted the person, an 18-year-old black man.

He tried to flee, the police said, and in a struggle that followed, the man shot one of the officers in the hand. Both the officer and the man were taken to a hospital; the man had what the police chief, William Blair Anderson, described as minor injuries.

Reports quickly spread on social media that the encounter had ended very differently, though — with the police shooting and killing a black teenager. Within hours, a crowd of about 100 people had gathered and was headed for the police station.

Chief Anderson said at a news conference on Monday that the police understood that the crowd, acting on “misinformation, bad information or just flat-out lies,” intended to take over the station. He said officers used tear gas to disperse the group, but that several buildings, including the station, were damaged. Four people were arrested on minor charges, he said.

As the protest flared, officials raced to set the story straight, sending out a news release and calling community leaders to say there had been no killing.

At the news conference on Monday, the mayor, Dave Kleis, said there had been a lot of “dangerous” misinformation on social media. He and Chief Anderson tried to turn the story into a positive one for the Police Department, arguing that the officers’ handling of the incident showed their restraint and professionalism.

“This is one of those situations that could have gone markedly different,” Chief Anderson said, suggesting that it was a case in which an officer could permissibly have used deadly force.

“You want to see what good policing looks like?” he said. “You want to see what community policing looks like? You want to see what community engagement looks like? Come to St. Cloud, and we’ll show you.”

A memorial sign about an 1882 lynching is vandalized in Kansas City.


Credit…The African American Heritage Trail of Kansas City, Mo.

The Kansas City police are investigating the vandalism of a historical marker about the lynching of a Missouri man, Levi Harrington, in 1882, a police spokesman said on Monday.

The blue and gold sign was removed from its signpost and tossed over a small wall and down a cliff, according to photos posted on social media and local news outlets. The police spokesman, Sgt. Jake Becchina, said that no one had reported the incident to the police, and that the investigation was begun after the department was alerted to the vandalism by news reports.

The sign was installed in 2018 by community leaders and the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal advocacy group, in West Terrace Park in Kansas City to memorialize Mr. Harrington.

The front of the marker explains how black residents were targeted after a police officer was fatally shot in the city on April 3, 1882. As Mr. Harrington traveled through the city that day, the police arrested him, even though they lacked evidence of any involvement by him in the shooting, the marker said.

“An angry white mob quickly formed and grew to several hundred people intent on lynching Mr. Harrington,” it said. The mob hanged Mr. Harrington from a beam of a bridge and shot him. “Although newspapers reported that Mr. Harrington was innocent of the accusations against him, no one was held accountable,” the sign concludes.

The reverse side gives a capsule history of lynching in the United States. Researchers for the Equal Justice Initiative have documented more than 4,000 lynchings between 1877 and 1950.

“We are in no way deterred from our commitment to helping communities confront the history of racial injustice represented by lynchings of black people by white mobs,” the group said in a statement on Monday. “That symbols designed to promote understanding and repair are targets of vandalism and violence just reinforces the need for this project.”

The sign and others like it have been vandalized before. Someone defaced the Kansas City marker with graffiti in 2019, and a sign just outside of Glendora, Miss., placed in memory of Emmett Till, has been repeatedly struck by gunfire.

Reporting was contributed by Julia Carmel, Jill Cowan, Michael Crowley, Shaila Dewan, John Eligon, Richard Fausset, Jacey Fortin, Astead W. Herndon, Dan Levin, Adam Liptak, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Kate Taylor, Ali Watkins, Will Wright and Alan Yuhas.