Atlanta officers won’t face charges from 2020 arrest of 2 college students
An Atlanta district attorney has dropped the charges for six police officers accused of battery and aggravated assault against two college students, after they were out past curfew following a George Floyd protest in 2020, the DA announced Monday.
Video footage shows officers on foot confronting two Black young adults, Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, who, at the time, were students of Spelman College and Morehouse College, respectively. The pair had been passing officers in a car 45 minutes after the city’s 9 p.m. curfew.
After they appear to drive away briefly from the officers, Pilgrim and Young stop — at which point the officers swarm the vehicle. Stun guns are used on both occupants, who are ripped from the car as Pilgrim screams for them to stop.
“I agree with Mayor [Keisha Lance] Bottoms and I agree with our police chief, Erika Shields, when they both have conveyed in so many separate ways that the conduct in this incident — it is not indicative of the way that we treat people in the city of Atlanta,” Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Paul Howard told reporters at the time.
Pilgrim was never charged; Young was charged with attempting to elude officers before the charge was dismissed at the request of Bottoms, who apologized.
The officers charged following the incident were Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones and Roland Claud. Streeter and Gardner were fired from the force, while the three others were placed on desk duty.
But Samir Patel, the temporary district attorney for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, dropped the charges against the officers, arguing that the officers’ use of force was “the direct result of Mr. Young and Ms. Pilgrim’s resistance to and noncompliance with the officers’ instructions.”
Patel said the officers were acting within the Atlanta Police Department’s use of force policy, and that the force stopped after Pilgrim and Young were subdued by stun guns.
“The video that was widely distributed through media in the days following May 30, 2020, was not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter between Mr. Young, Ms. Pilgrim, and law enforcement,” he said.
He continued, “I wholeheartedly believe that Georgia has made significant progress in improving how our communities and police work together and we must continue that positive path, always guided by the rule of law.”