ATLANTA (WCMH) — Atlanta police officers were not responding to calls in three of the department’s six zones after fired police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with felony murder for fatally shooting Rayshard Brooks in the back, CNN reports.
The police department told CNN an unusual number of officers working the late shift called out sick.
Atlanta police patrol six zones covering some 500,000 residents. They also patrol Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Atlanta Police Department said in a tweet that reports of multiple officers from each zone walking off the job as part of a “blue flu” were inaccurate.
“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate,” the police department said in a statement. “The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.”
Vince Champion, the southeast regional director of the International Brother of Police Officers, told CNN he received calls throughout the night saying officers were calling out and walking off their shifts.
“Some were just refusing to leave the precincts unless an officer needed help, so it was different things,” Champion told CNN.
“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.”
During a press conference Wednesday, prosecutors said Brooks posed no threat when he was gunned down and that Rolfe kicked him and offered no medical treatment as he lay dying on the ground.
Brooks was holding a stun gun he had snatched from officers but was 18 feet, 3 inches away when he was shot by Rolfe and was running away at the time, District Attorney Paul Howard said in announcing the charges, which came five days after the killing outside a Wendy’s restaurant rocked the city.
The felony murder charge against Rolfe carries life in prison without parole or the death penalty. He was also charged with 10 other offenses punishable by decades behind bars.
The other officer at the shooting, Devin Brosnan, faces an aggravated assault charge and two counts of violation of oath of office.
Attorneys for both officers have said they are not guilty.