Atlanta Officers Fired After Video Shows Use of Taser, Violence on 2 Black College Students
Two Atlanta police officers have been fired after viral online videos showed them dragging two black college students out of their car with what the city's mayor termed “excessive force” after a George Floyd protest on Saturday night.
Multiple videos -- including an officer's own body-cam footage -- show a cluster of officers breaking the window of the car in which Taniyah Pilgrim, a senior at Spelman College, was riding with her friend Messiah Young, a student at Morehouse College, after the city's 9 p.m. curfew.
One video shows a circle of officers surrounding the vehicle. Officers use a stun gun on Pilgrim before appearing to pull her violently from the passenger side door. She’s then restrained on the ground.
Another officer yells at Young, in the driver's seat, to open his window before an officer pummels and then breaks the window with his baton. An officer then aims a taser into the car, shooting Young with the stun gun and yelling “he’s got a gun” repeatedly as they pull Young from the car.
According to the police report, no weapons were found on the couple, KMOV4 reports.
Pilgrim was released without charges, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a Sunday press conference.
Young was also released, Bottoms said, and the charges against him have been dropped.
According to the police report, Young was charged with attempting to elude police and driving with a suspended license, KMOV4 reports.
Pilgrim spoke out about the aggressive encounter in an interview with CBS46: “I was so terrified, I didn’t know what to do. What was going through my mind was how not to die. That's what was going through my mind.”
At Sunday's press conference, Bottoms said she and Police Chief Erika Shields decided to fire two of the involved officers and put three others on desk duty after reviewing footage of the incident.
“Use of excessive force is never acceptable," Bottoms said, with Shields noting that the videos were “really shocking to watch.”
“I really wanted to believe that the body-worn camera footage would provide some larger view that could better rationalize why we got to this space," Shields said. But after reviewing the footage, “…I knew that I had only one option, and that is to terminate the employees."
On Sunday, the fired officers were identified as Investigator Ivory Streeter, who was hired in December 2003, and Investigator Mark Gardner, hired in August 1997.
As of Monday, it was unclear whether the officers will face charges for the incident.
Neither Bottoms' nor Shields' offices immediately responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.