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Wendy's reacts to Rayshard Brooks killing, burned restaurant: 'Heartbreaking events'

Lucas Manfredi

In a memo to employees posted on the company's blog, Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor addressed the fatal killing of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks by police in an Atlanta Wendy's parking lot and the burning-down of the restaurant that followed.

"I wanted to reach out regarding the heartbreaking events that occurred in Atlanta this weekend," Penegor said. "The tragic death of Rayshard Brooks, and the pain this has caused, saddens us all. Wendy’s has proudly served the Atlanta community for decades and seeing our restaurant burn was difficult, but we are extremely grateful that all of the team members remained safe."

ATLANTA MAYOR ON RAYSHARD BROOKS: 'I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS WAS A JUSTIFIED USE OF DEADLY FORCE'

Penegor said the franchisee of the Atlanta Wendy's is "ensuring that employees displaced from work will continue to be paid and will have the option to remain employed at other restaurants in the area." The company is also providing monetary relief through Wendy's employee assistance program, WeCare, to any restaurant team member who experiences "a financial loss due to short-term restaurant closures or disruptions."

"Wendy’s is committed to doing our part to make real change by supporting our employees and the Black community through social justice, youth and education efforts," Penegor added. "I realize that recent events have taken an emotional toll on all of us, and I encourage you to take advantage of support resources available like Employee Assistance Programs, and to seek comfort from each other, your friends and family. We will do everything we can to support the Wendy’s Family, and we’re hopeful that the days ahead will bring greater understanding and healing."

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The shooting in the Wendy's parking lot occurred Friday night after two officers, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, were called to the fast-food restaurant following a complaint that Brooks had fallen asleep in his car, which was blocking the restaurant's drive-thru lane, according to the Atlanta police department.

A struggle ensued when the officers attempted to take Brooks into custody after he failed a sobriety test. Brooks was able to grab hold of Brosnan's Taser during the altercation and began fleeing the scene before Rolfe fatally shot him.

Rolfe has been fired following a call for his termination on Saturday by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms while Brosnan has been placed on administrative duty. Atlanta police chief Erika Shields announced on Sunday that she would step down from her role following a wave of protests sparked by Brooks' killing just a few weeks after demonstrations across the country following the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Brooks died after undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. An autospy found he had suffered two gunshot wounds to the back and his death has been ruled a homicide.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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