Two Plead Guilty in Fire at Atlanta Wendy’s Restaurant During Protest After Rayshard Brooks Killing

  • Two of three suspects in an arson attack at an Atlanta Wendy’s where police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks have pleaded guilty.
  • Chisom Kingston and Natalie White each admitted to two counts of first-degree arson and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.
  • The case of the third suspect, John Wade, remains pending.

Two of the three people charged with arson in the Wendy’s restaurant fire in Atlanta, where a police officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in June 2020, have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors.

Chisom Kingston, Natalie White and John Wade were arrested on arson charges just weeks after the fire, which came amid weeks of unrest and protests across the country following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer of Minneapolis. In January 2022, a Fulton County grand jury indicted the trio on two counts each of first-degree arson and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

Kingston and White pleaded guilty Thursday to the charges and each received a sentence of five years’ probation, a $500 fine and 150 hours of community service to be completed with a nonprofit organization within the first year of probation, according to online court records. Each of them was sentenced under Georgia’s first offender law, which means that if they complete their sentences without violating the terms or committing another crime, their records will be expunged.

Wade’s case was still pending. He was in federal prison in West Virginia after pleading guilty in February 2022 to one count of conspiracy to burn U.S. Postal Service vehicles. Amanda Young, an attorney listed under her name in court records, declined Tuesday to comment on her case in Fulton County or the plea agreements of her co-defendants.

Kingston attorney Khalil Eaddy said his client is remorseful and grateful to have this case behind him.

Wendys burning during Atlanta riots

The Wendys restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed burns during a riot in Atlanta, June 13, 2020. (News21USA Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

“This is a good young man committed to his family and his community,” Eaddy said in a news release Tuesday. “Since that night three years ago, he not only graduated from Georgia State University with plans to begin graduate school, but he has kept faith in our courts and in justice itself.”

Drew Findling and Zack Kelehear, White’s attorneys, said in a statement that their client settled his case with a plea “after three years of litigation, on the eve of a specially scheduled jury trial.”

The fast food restaurant was set on fire during a protest on June 13, 2020, the night after Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer.

Police responded on June 12, 2020 to complaints that Brooks was asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane of the restaurant. Police body camera video shows the 27-year-old black man struggling with two white officers after they told him he had too much to drink to drive and tried to arrest him. Brooks grabbed a Taser from one of the officers and fled, firing it at the other officer as he ran. An autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.

A special prosecutor appointed to examine the shooting last year announced he would not press charges against any of the officers involved, saying they acted reasonably.

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Before he was shot, Brooks told officers three times that he had been with a girlfriend named Natalie White that night. Findling confirmed at the time that his client is the person Brooks was talking about, but declined to comment further on their relationship, saying only that they were close.

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