Council president criticizes Atlanta mayor over firings of officers during summer protests, shooting

ATLANTA — Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore tells Channel 2 Action News “cooler heads should have prevailed” at City Hall in the handling of two incidents of alleged police brutality last year.

In an interview with Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher, Moore said she will not be surprised if the two officers involved in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks are reinstated because of mistakes in the handling of their cases.

Moore is challenging incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose office pushed back Tuesday by accusing Moore of being soft on police abuses.

Two officers involved in a controversial tasing incident have already been reinstated because the city fired them without a full investigation and appeals hearing, and the officers involved in the Brooks case also say they were denied due process.

“Cooler heads should have prevailed, and it should have been explained to the public exactly what the process was going to be in dealing with both of those situations,” Moore told Belcher.

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The first incident came when six officers tried to stop two young people who were downtown during last May’s protests. When they drove away, the officers tased them, yanked them from their car and arrested them.

Moore says she was shocked by the incident but also by the mayor’s decision to fire some of the officers without an investigation and appeal hearing.

“I know emotions probably got involved, but that is not the way we handle not only police officers but any employee in the city,” Moore said.

Bottoms also directed the firings of the officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, who were involved in the confrontation with and shooting death of Brooks.

Moore is waiting to see if they, too, will be reinstated.

“I don’t know what I expect, but I would not be surprised if they were, because I believe we ran into a similar incident where we didn’t do our administrative pay with leave and an investigation (before firing them),” Moore said.

Moore also criticized Bottoms for calling Brooks’ death “murder” before the investigation was complete.

“That would be something that a court will determine, but I don’t think it was appropriate, particularly for the mayor of the City of Atlanta to use those terms,” she said.

The council president says officers regularly tell her the mayor’s handling of those two incidents lead directly to a sharp decline in morale.

Belcher asked Moore what will happen if the officers in the two incidents are not convicted of criminal charges when they finally come to trial.

“I would say that if they’re acquitted, there will be protests in the streets. I would expect that,” she said.

But she also had a warning that if she is mayor and protests turn violent: “If they are damaging property or injuring officers or throwing bricks, those things are unacceptable and will be met with accountability of the people who are doing it.”

A representative for the city of Atlanta did not respond to specific points Moore made about mistakes leading to the reinstatement of the accused officers, but a brief statement accused Moore of being willing to tolerate police abuses.

“If Atlantans want a candidate for Mayor who will turn a blind eye to excessive use of force then they have their candidate in Ms. Moore,” the statement said.

The mayor has not responded to Belcher’s request for an on-camera interview about these issues.