June 18 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Police Department saw a rise in officer absences early Thursday amid word of a planned walkout to protest criminal charges against two officers in the death of Rayshard Brooks.
The department said the numbers of officer absences late Wednesday and early Thursday were greater than normal but disputed reports that they were related to the Brooks controversy.
It was reported that some of the absent officers called out to oppose charges filed Wednesday by the Fulton County district attorney. Prosecutors charged Garrett Rolfe, the officer most directly involved with Brooks' death, with murder, aggravated assault and violation of oath by an officer.
Another officer who was at the scene, Devin Brosnan, was charged with a count of aggravated assault and two counts of violation of oath. He is expected to testify against Rolfe in the state's case.
Atlanta's WGCL-TV reported that some officers who had reported to work refused to answer calls in certain precincts Wednesday night.
"There are officers walking off," said Vince Champion, Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police. "There are officers saying they are not going to leave the precinct unless to help another officer. Some are walking off and sitting in their personal vehicles."
The Atlanta Police Department, however, disputed the notion that the absences were part of a protest.
"Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate," the department said in a tweet. "The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call-outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents."
Brooks was killed last week during a DUI stop in front of a fast food restaurant. Video from the arrest shows that Brooks took a Taser from an officer and briefly tried to flee before turning back toward the officers. He was shot moments later.
The district attorney's office said Rolfe kicked Brooks and stood on his shoulders as he lay on the ground.