Recorded on police body cam video viciously attacking two college students leaving a recent protest against police brutality, six Atlanta cops were charged Tuesday for tazing the students and assaulting them. Two of the officers were immediately fired for use of excessive force.
On Saturday night, 20-year-old Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim and 22-year-old Morehouse College student Messiah Young were leaving a demonstration near downtown Atlanta when they saw a classmate in police custody who was screaming in agony. As Young began to record the incident on his cellphone, officers approached the car and threatened to arrest him if he did not stop recording and continue driving.
Although Young did slowly continue driving into heavy traffic, an officer suddenly opened his door and attempted to pull him from the vehicle. Instead of allowing the officer to assault him for no apparent reason, Young tried to flee but only went a few yards before stopping again in traffic.
According to police body cam video, one of the officers attempted to smash the car windows with a metal baton as another cop aimed his gun at the students. Pilgrim appeared to be tazed immediately after opening her door despite the fact that she did not appear to be a threat to the officers.
After shattering the driver’s window, the officers tazed Young and yanked him out of the car while arresting him. Although use of force was used against Pilgrim, she was not charged.
“I heard officers say gun two-three times,” one of the officer wrote in his police report of the incident. “Not being able to see the hands of the passenger and being that she was in my immediate sight I deployed my city issued taser to defuse the situation.”
“It was the worst experience of my life,” Pilgrim told CNN.
After spending the night in jail, Young was later released with the charges against him dropped.
On Sunday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that two of the officers involved in the incident had been fired. Officers Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner were terminated after officials reviewed the body cam footage.
“As we watch the video today, it became abundantly clear immediately with the young woman that this force was excessive,” Bottoms said on Sunday. “It also became abundantly clear that the officer who tazed the young man needed to be terminated as well.”
On Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced that arrest warrants have been issued for officers Streeter, Gardner, Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Armond Jones, and Roland Claud. Streeter and Gardner were both charged with aggravated assault, while Streeter faces an additional charge of pointing or aiming a gun at Young.
Hood was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of simple battery, Sauls with aggravated assault and criminal damage to property, Jones with aggravated battery and pointing or aiming a gun, and Claud with criminal damage to property.
During the press conference on
Tuesday, Young appeared with a cast on his arm and told reporters, “I feel a
little safer now that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to
terrorize anyone else from this point on.”