A month of George Floyd protests frequently brought demonstrators to Buckhead, many of whom said part of the reason was the neighborhood’s status as a majority-White example of Atlanta income inequality — which U.S. Census data bears out. And as local controversy erupted over the Atlanta Police killing of Rayshard Brooks, Buckhead’s Zone 2 precinct has reported few uses of force this year and no shootings.

Census stats

Jim Skinner, a planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission, provided custom Census statistics for Buckhead at the Reporter’s request.

The 2019 Census estimate had Buckhead’s population at 100,123. The racial breakdown was as follows, with the citywide figure in parentheses for comparison:

  • White: 71.6% (36.2%)
  • Black: 11.7% (51.3%)
  • Asian: 7% (5.1%)
  • Hispanic: 7.4% (5%)

Buckhead also differs greatly from the city as a whole on income and wealth in the form of home ownership:

  • Median household income: $100,414 ($58,167)
  • Average household income: $157,835 ($99,153)
  • Per capita income: $81,684 ($44,736)
  • Median home value: $645,461 ($336,684)
  • Average home value: $786,967 ($463,063)

In estimates based on Census surveys conducted in 2014-2018, about 8% of Buckhead households had incomes below the federal poverty level, compared to about 18% citywide. And Buckhead had an estimated 969 households that receive food stamps, compared to 31,855 citywide.

Police use of force

APD makes it moderately easy to get use-of-force reports, providing those for Zone 2 in 2020 via an Open Records request. However, complaint reports were delayed, with APD citing resources tied up in responding to the ongoing protests.

Of the 10 use-of-force reports provided, two appeared to occur outside of Zone 2. None of the remaining eight involved lethal force or the use of weapons. They ranged from throwing people to the ground to laying a hand on someone’s chest to knocking down a door for a hostage situation. Two suspects were described as having minor facial injuries after being pulled to the ground by officers. Seven of the eight reports included rulings that they were justified; the other one had no ruling either way.

The knee-to-the-neck restraint infamously used by Minneapolis police during the killing of Floyd is banned by APD — though there are exceptions for deadly-force situations.

APD said the use of a “neck restraint” is against their use-of-force policies for normal arrests. Neck restraints include chokeholds and other forms of pressure to the neck or throat.

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police says such neck restraints are widely prohibited. APD said it has prohibited such holds for at least 16 years.

“It appears the language on neck restraints was added into our use of force policy in 2004. I don’t have information on why,” said APD spokesperson Carlos Campos.

A big exception in local departments is that choking a suspect would be allowed in a situation where deadly force is permitted, basically meaning where the suspect is deemed to be an immediate threat to killing or severely injuring another person. In essence, a neck restraint is seen as a lethal tactic.

The APD’s use-of-force policy addresses neck restraints in a lengthy passage:

“Employees will not use neck restraints, carotid artery holds or other weaponless control techniques that are not taught or approved by the department due to the potential for serious injury or death; unless they are in an emergency situation or under exigent circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use force to prevent serious bodily injury or death and city-issued and/or authorized lethal or less-lethal weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available or effective.”

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.