Six Atlanta police officers have been charged with using excessive force after dragging two college students out of a car, bashing in the vehicle’s windows and using a stun gun during an arrest Saturday night. The incident happened during widespread protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
According to ABC News, the charges include aggravated assault, pointing or aiming a gun, simple battery and criminal damage to property. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard identified the officers as Lonnie Hood, Roland Claud, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones, Willie Sauls and Ivory Streeter. The incident was caught on body-cam.
The violent run-in transpired when Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgram stopped in traffic to film an altercation between police and another man, Chancellor Meyer. Young asked the officers if they could let the man into their car since he had been thrown to the ground and was crying. The officer told Young to leave the scene or go to jail, so Young drove off — only to get stuck in traffic. Police caught up with the car and Claud broke the window with a baton, leaving Gardner and Streeter to turn their stun guns on the passengers. Before Young was taken to the hospital, one of the officers repeatedly punched him in the back.
Young was charged with eluding the police and released on bond, while Pilgram was not charged. All charges have since been dropped at the behest of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“I thought both Messiah and I were going to die,” Pilgram said on Good Morning America 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,” Young said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We just hope there is a change in the police culture.”
Two of the officers — Streeter and Gardner — were fired by Mayor Lance Bottoms on Sunday after video of the incident went viral, according to CNN. “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 tased the young man needed to be terminated as well.”
Last Monday, Minnesota police killed 46-year-old unarmed black man George Floyd after an officer leaned on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. All officers involved have since been fired and the officer who put his knee to Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. A recent autopsy concluded that the cause of death was homicide.