The Atlanta police officers who were seen on live television pepper-spraying, tasering and dragging two black college students from their car during protests in the city are now facing multiple criminal charges.
The Fulton County District Attorney announced Tuesday (Jun 2) that six Atlanta Police Department officers were charged for using excessive force during the violent arrests of Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim Saturday night.
Two Atlanta police officers are finally fired after body-camera footage showed they used excessive force in protest incident. Please tell me how anybody thinks this is remotely okay?! Or why so many cops are covering their badge numbers and body cams pic.twitter.com/pWHvmbILaj
— Sytrux (@Sytruxx) May 31, 2020
Two of the officers—investigators Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner—were fired earlier this week as a result of the incident after bodycam footage confirmed their use of excessive force, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.
Streeter was also charged with aggravated assault for tasering Young and pointing a gun at him, while Gardner is facing the same charge for tasering Pilgrim.
Officers Lonnie Hood and Willie Sauls were also slapped with aggravated assault charges for their roles in the incident. Hood reportedly used a taser on both Pilgrim and Young, while Sauls pointed his at the students.
Another APD officer, Armond Jones, was charged with aggravated battery for forcefully throwing Young to the ground and pointing a gun at him.
The sixth cop, Roland Claud, was charged with criminal damage to property for smashing the couples’ car window.
Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim took part in a press conference Monday (Jun 1), in which Pilgrim said that she and Young feared for their lives during the incident.
“I still can’t even process what happened,” Pilgrim said. “We felt like we were going to die in that car.”
She added in a press conference Tuesday after the officers’ charges were announced: “I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions, there was not one justifiable thing that they did. I hope they are all held accountable because it’s not OK.”
Young, 22, of Chicago, is a rising senior at Morehouse College, where he’s studying business management.
Pilgrim, 20—from San Antonio, Texas—is a psychology major at Spelman College.
Both schools are historically black colleges near downtown Atlanta and a part of the Atlanta University Center (aka AUC).
Lawyers representing the pair said they were out getting a bite to eat Saturday night when they got caught up in traffic around 9:30 p.m. along Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta after a citywide curfew was announced.
Young suffered a fractured arm and required more than 20 stitches as a result of the violent arrest, which he referred to as “one of the hardest things that I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
He added on Tuesday: “I feel a little safer that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else from this point on. We just hope there is a change in the police culture.”
All six police officers have been asked to turn themselves in to be booked on the aforementioned charges by the end of Friday, June 5th.