LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Atlanta police chief who resigned final 12 months after a high-profile police capturing has been employed to run the division in Louisville, Ky., a metropolis nonetheless reeling from its personal outstanding capturing that helped gasoline the outcry for police reform that turned a defining issue of 2020.
The incoming chief, Erika Shields, will develop into the fourth police chief to guide the Louisville Metro Police Division for the reason that demise of Breonna Taylor in March, Mayor Greg Fischer introduced on Wednesday. She is going to exchange the town’s interim chief, Yvette Gentry, when she is sworn in on Jan. 19.
Ms. Shields will arrive in a metropolis rife with racial pressure that ballooned with the killing of Ms. Taylor and subsequent protests, which drew 1000’s of individuals this summer time and fall. A lot of the anger surrounding Ms. Taylor’s demise remains to be evident in Louisville right now, 9 months later, and activists mentioned they are going to ramp up demonstrations in an effort to strengthen their calls for for a change within the police power.
“Erika is certainly coming into chaos,” mentioned Milly Martin, a political and social activist in Louisville. “Hopefully she will deal with it.”
Ms. Shields served as Atlanta’s police chief for 3 and a half years, however resigned two days after a police officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, in June. Officers had responded to a name reporting that Mr. Brooks was asleep in his automobile in a Wendy’s parking zone.
After 40 minutes of questioning and sobriety checks, the officers tried to arrest Mr. Brooks, who hit one officer, took one other one’s Taser, fired it after which ran. One of many officers, Garrett Rolfe, pulled out a handgun and fired at Mr. Brooks as he fled, hanging him twice within the again.
Prosecutors mentioned that Mr. Rolfe then kicked Mr. Brooks as he lay dying, whereas one other officer stood by. Neither of the 2 officers rendered first assist for greater than two minutes.
Officers fired Mr. Rolfe and charged him with homicide and aggravated assault inside per week of the capturing. His case is awaiting trial.
Ms. Shields resigned the identical day that Mr. Rolfe was fired, saying in an announcement on the time that she was stepping down “out of a deep and abiding love for this metropolis and this division.”
She now involves a metropolis that’s nonetheless coping with an much more outstanding police capturing — that of Ms. Taylor, who was killed throughout a raid on her house in March.
No officers have been charged for Ms. Taylor’s demise. One officer, Brett Hankison, faces expenses of endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors when he shot into their house. The Police Division announced last week that two different officers would even be fired for his or her roles within the lethal raid.
In demise, Ms. Taylor turned a world icon for renewed calls to reform police departments and maintain officers accountable after they commit pointless violence. That’s particularly obvious in Louisville, the place fallout from the lethal raid continues to reverberate via the town. Protesters, although fewer in quantity than through the summer time and fall, nonetheless occupy a public sq. in her honor downtown, and public officers proceed to clamor for reforms and accountability measures that they complain have been gradual to return.
Ms. Martin, the political activist, mentioned she was upset that officers appointed Ms. Shields, who was requested to resign by the Atlanta chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. following the killing of Mr. Brooks.
“I simply don’t see how she’s going to be match for Louisville,” Ms. Martin mentioned. “Because the Black neighborhood, why would we would like a girl like Erika Shields coming to our metropolis to be the subsequent police chief when clearly, clearly she couldn’t get Atlanta P.D. beneath management?”
Atlanta had a number of police shootings whereas Ms. Shields served as chief, a few of them resulting in reforms.
In a single occasion, in 2019, an Atlanta police officer was working with an F.B.I. process power when the group tried to arrest 21-year-old Jimmy Atchison after a chase. Mr. Atchison finally tried to give up, however was shot within the face and killed by the Atlanta police officer. The officer mentioned on the time that be believed Mr. Atchison was holding a weapon.
Not one of the officers had been sporting physique cameras, and the capturing stays beneath investigation, in keeping with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In response, Ms. Shields introduced that the Police Division would stop to associate with the F.B.I., the Drug Enforcement Administration or U.S. Marshals Service as a result of these companies don’t put on physique cameras.
Ms. Shields, Atlanta’s second feminine chief and its first brazenly homosexual one, additionally gained some help amongst progressives when she met with protesters who took to the streets after the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis in Might.
“I believed the best way she waded out into the crowds to try to higher perceive the ache and fear that individuals had been feeling in Atlanta final summer time was actually admirable,” mentioned Matt Westmoreland, a Democratic Metropolis Councilman in Atlanta.
Robert Friedmann, professor emeritus of prison justice at Georgia State College, mentioned a few of Ms. Shields’s means to achieve Louisville would depend upon Mayor Fischer and the Metro Metropolis Council, and whether or not these elected officers would give the brand new chief the liberty to enact adjustments as she sees match.
“If the mayor won’t disrupt her place and her job, Louisville will likely be fortunate to have her,” Mr. Friedmann mentioned, including that police chiefs typically come beneath substantial political pressures, notably after high-profile shootings and during times of excessive crime charges.
Like many cities, Louisville skilled a pointy improve in homicides and different crimes final 12 months. The Louisville Metro Police Division logged 173 homicides in 2020, greater than the earlier two years mixed.
Chris Wells, a Louisville activist who attended a gathering on Tuesday to advertise a truce between the town’s feuding gangs, mentioned he doubted that somebody from outdoors Louisville may are available and proper the myriad issues that solely worsened for the town’s Black residents in 2020.
The choice course of main as much as Wednesday’s announcement has unfolded in secrecy, and Mr. Fischer had declined to debate the choice committee’s deliberations. Metropolis officers confronted public criticism for not releasing the listing of finalists earlier than making a range, in view of the requires elevated transparency within the wake of Ms. Taylor’s demise.
“We weren’t given a alternative,” mentioned Attica Scott, a state consultant from Louisville who participated in a number of racial justice demonstrations. “We weren’t engaged as companions, we weren’t engaged as neighborhood — activists, protesters and leaders have been omitted.”
Gerald Griggs, the second vp of the Atlanta chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., mentioned that regardless of some reform efforts, Ms. Shields was in the end unsuccessful in stopping pointless acts of police violence. He mentioned the demise of Mr. Brooks was “the straw that broke the camel’s again.”
“To listen to that now she’s going to one of many epicenters of the problems round police brutality is disheartening,” Mr. Griggs mentioned. “I believe it’s a foul determination. I like her as an individual, however as an administrator of a police power, she’s been unable to curtail the exercise that offers rise to police brutality.”
He added that activists in Atlanta “have a kindred spirit with Louisville as a result of we perceive what it’s wish to lose a member of the neighborhood,” and that Ms. Shields “can count on activists from Atlanta to be in Louisville — we need to maintain her accountable.”