2 plead guilty to torching Atlanta Wendy's during Rayshard Brooks riot
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  • Two of three suspects in an arson attack on an Atlanta Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot by police 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 three people charged with arson in the burning of the Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta where a police officer fatally shot 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 within weeks of the fire, which came in the midst of weeks of upheaval and protest across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. A Fulton County grand jury in January 2022 indicted the trio on two counts each of first-degree arson and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson.

Kingston and White on Thursday pleaded guilty to the charges and each received a sentence of five years of 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. They were each sentenced under Georgia’s first offender law, meaning that if they complete their sentences without violating the terms or committing another crime, their records will be wiped clean.

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Wade’s case was still pending. He was in federal prison in West Virginia after pleading guilty in February 2022 to a charge of conspiracy to burn U.S. Postal Service vehicles. Amanda Young, a lawyer listed for him in court records, declined on Tuesday to comment on his Fulton County case or his co-defendants’ plea deals.

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

Wendys burning during Atlanta riot

The Wendys restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot burns during an Atlanta riot, June 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

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

Drew Findling and Zack Kelehear, attorneys for White, said in a statement that their client resolved her case with a plea “after three years of litigation, on the eve of a specially set jury trial.”

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The fast food restaurant was set ablaze during a protest on June 13, 2020, the night after a police officer fatally shot Brooks.

Police had responded on June 12, 2020, to complaints that Brooks was asleep in his car in the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. Police body camera video shows the 27-year-old Black man struggling with two white officers after they told him he’d had too much to drink to be driving 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 that he would not seek charges against either officer involved, saying they acted reasonably.

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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