2 plead guilty to burning Wendy’s after Rayshard Brooks’ death, get probation

3rd defendant will face trial from federal prison
The Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by Atlanta police was torn down in July 2020.

The Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by Atlanta police was torn down in July 2020.

Two co-defendants pleaded guilty to arson charges for burning down a southwest Atlanta Wendy’s during the protests following Rayshard Brooks’ shooting death in June 2020, while a third defendant is scheduled to go on trial next week despite being in federal prison.

Chisom Kingston and Natalie Hanna White each entered negotiated guilty pleas Thursday, according to Fulton County court documents. They each pleaded guilty to two counts of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson and received identical sentences of five years on probation and $500 fines.

John Wesley Wade’s trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, court documents show. He faces the same charges as Kingston and White, but he previously pleaded guilty to federal arson charges. He is being held at the Federal Correctional Institution, Beckley, a medium-security prison in Beaver, West Virginia.

Wade and two other men, Ellie Melvin Brett and Vida Messiah Jones, were convicted of burning five postal trucks outside a post office on Oglethorpe Avenue in southwest Atlanta. They torched the federal vehicles in 2020 after the Wendy’s was burned.

When Wade committed arson against the postal trucks, he was wearing an ankle monitor as part of his bond agreement in the Fulton case, according to federal prosecutors.

Wade was sentenced to five years in federal prison followed by three years of probation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. He is expected to be released in August 2024, records kept by the Federal Bureau of Prisons show, but he could face additional state prison time if found guilty in next week’s trial.

Wade, Kingston and White were accused of committing arson while protesting the shooting death of Brooks by an Atlanta police officer three years ago.

Two officers were called to the Wendy’s that was later burned down after police got a complaint that Brooks was asleep in his car in the drive-thru line. They spoke with Brooks, 27, at length before attempting to arrest him.

When they tried to put him under arrest, a physical fight ensued and Brooks grabbed one of the officers’ Tasers. As he tried to run away, he turned and fired the Taser toward one of the pursuing officers, who fired back with his handgun.

Brooks was hit and killed, and his death contributed to protests in Atlanta and nationwide that followed the killing of George Floyd in police custody.