Charges have been dropped against the Atlanta police officers who tased two students who attended HBCUs in 2020 who were caught in the middle of police shooting demonstrations.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against the six Atlanta police officers: Ivory Streeter, Lonnie Hood, Mark Gardner, Ronald Claud, Willie Sauls and Armond Jones. They were accused of the unlawful handling and arrest of Messiah Young and his girlfriend Taniyah Pilgrim on May 30, 2020 during a protest taking place five days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr., announced charges against all six officers, after the incident initially, but an official review determined that they were not criminally liable.
“The evidence in this case shows that the involved officers’ use of force was the direct result of Mr. Young and Ms. Pilgrim’s resistance to and noncompliance with the officers’ instructions,” Atlanta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Pro Tempore Samir Patel said in a statement.
At the time of the incident, Young was a Morehouse student while Pilgrim was attending Spelman College. The students were driving near the protest at about 9:44 p.m, after a curfew had been instituted and were forcibly removed from their car. Body-camera footage released by police shows officers smashing through the driver’s side window and snatching Young, 23 at the time, and Pilgrim, 21 at the time, out of the vehicle.
Mawuli Davis, the attorney for Young and Pilgrim, said about the charges being dismissed, “It’s sad and it’s sickening. This whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
“As scared as I was two years ago, I’m still scared right now knowing the people that caused so much trauma and harm to me and Messiah are able to walk free and go on about their lives,” Pilgrim said.
Young said he suffered a fractured arm and a cut that required more than 20 stitches.
Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fired Streeter and Gardner the day after the incident and issued a public apology to the students for what she described as an excessive use of force. However they were later reinstated following an investigation from the Civil Service Board that said the city failed to follow the proper personnel procedures.