US protests: Top official in Trump administration resigns over protest handling

Police in Atlanta are protesting against murder charge by not going to work

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A top official in the Donald Trump administration submitted their resignation on Thursday, citing the president's handling of recent racial tensions.

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said that the president's actions "cut sharply against my core values and convictions," according to the resignation letter, obtained by The Washington Post.

Taylor is the youngest assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in history and the first black woman to serve in the post.

Elsewhere, former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe turned himself in to authorities at the Fulton County Jail on Thursday after being charged with felony murder and 10 other charges.

The district attorney confirmed it would not seek the death penalty in the case.

Devin Brosnan, the second officer charged in the June 12 shooting of African-American Rayshard Brooks, 27, also turned himself in and was released after signing his own bond, said his lawyer, Don Samuel.

Mr Brosnan has not agreed to be a state witness, Mr Samuel said on Thursday, contradicting a statement by the lead prosecutor on the case.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard on Wednesday said the second officer had become a "state witness", agreeing to help prosecute Mr Rolfe.

Mr Brosnan, who did not fire his weapon, faces lesser charges including aggravated assault and violation of his oath.

Mr Brooks is the latest in a long line of African Americans whose killing by police was captured on video.

It further increased tension amid a national discussion about police accountability and racial equality.

Mr Brooks's death came during protests in the US and abroad, sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 25.

Mr Floyd, another African-American man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder, while three others were charged with aiding and abetting.

The police encounter with Brooks started out calmly after he was found sleeping in his car in a drive-through lane at a Wendy's restaurant in Atlanta.

Mr Rolfe and Mr Brosnan administered a sobriety test, after which the situation became more tense.

Video of the encounter with Mr Brooks appeared to show him grabbing one of the officer's Tasers, then turning and pointing it at Mr Rolfe before being shot.

The district attorney said on Thursday that investigators concluded Mr Rolfe knew at the time that the Taser had already been fired twice and was thus harmless.

One of the bullets from Mr Rolfe's gun hit a white Chevy Trailblazer at the Wendy's, threatening the life of the three bystanders inside, the state prosecutor said.

Mr Samuel said the decision to charge Mr Brosnan was "irrational" and politically motivated.

He said his client's conduct on the night of the shooting was "exemplary" and a "textbook example" of how an officer should approach a situation involving someone inebriated, as Mr Brooks was that night.

Mr Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault for standing on Mr Brooks's body after he was shot and for breaching his oath of office by not rendering medical aid straight after Mr Brooks went down.

Atlanta’s police department reassured residents on Thursday that it could still protect the city, even though some police officers did not show up to work in protest against the charges against Mr Rolfe.

Hours after the murder charge was announced, the Atlanta Police Department tweeted that it had more officers taking time off than normal.

But it said it had “enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents".

It is not clear how many officers did not turn up for work but only one officer showed up for work on Thursday morning in Zone 6, which covers much of Atlanta’s east side.

Several dozen are normally assigned to patrol that area, said Vince Champion, south-east regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

Atlanta officers are walking off their shifts or not responding to calls because they feel “abandoned, betrayed, used in a political game", Mr Champion told AP.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Chicago can keep all records of complaints against police officers that are more than five years old, delivering a victory for police reform advocates who say the records are crucial to keeping track of officers accused of brutality and misconduct.

Though the ruling is part of a legal battle that started long before last month’s death of Mr Floyd in Minneapolis, it deals with many of the issues that demonstrators have raised at the widespread protests.

The Chicago Police Department has long been dogged by a reputation for brutality and misconduct, particularly in regard to its treatment of people of colour, so keeping the older records of complaints against officers is seen as crucial for monitoring the most problematic ones.

In California, police chiefs on Thursday endorsed a plan to more aggressively weed out bad cops who break the law or have a history of complaints.

The California Police Chiefs Association also called for periodic checks to make sure officers are mentally stable, part of a package of reforms they offered after weeks of protests over the slayings of black people by police.

Officers could lose their training certifications, after due process hearings, if they are convicted of any felonies or certain misdemeanors or have “a history of egregious misconduct” with repeated and sustained complaints or policy violations, the chiefs said.