Amid ongoing national unrest, six Atlanta police officers were charged Tuesday following tense video recording authorities dragging two college students from their car and firing on them with stun guns while the students sat idle in traffic. CBS News reports two of the officers involved in the matter have since been fired from the department after the department and mayor determined they had used "excessive force." The other four have been placed on administrative leave, per a spokesperson. The officers face counts for aggravated assault, simple battery, criminal damage, and pointing or aiming a gun.
Over the weekend, a graphic video went viral of two Atlanta college students, Messiah Young, and Teniyah Pilgrim, sitting in their car after the city's 9 p.m. curfew screaming and asking officers what was happening as they were pulled out of their vehicle during a traffic jam amid George Floyd protests. Footage shows an officer telling Young to keep moving the car, but then abruptly opens the door and attempts to pull him out. As Young manages to drive off, he is later stopped down the road by a traffic jam, where officers proceed to swarm the car and assault the two. At one point in the video, Young is heard saying, "I'm not dying today" as officers vocally claim Young has a gun — but per police reports, there was never one recovered.
#BREAKING: 2 Atlanta Police officers fired after video showed them using "excessive force" in the arrest of two college students Saturday night, the Mayor says.
The arrest was reportedly due to disregarding curfew & orders from police.May 31, 2020
According to the AP, the Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced the charges against the six officers during a news conference with Young and Pilgrim in attendance. "I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else," Young said. Pilgrim was released without charges, admitting at the press conference how she was "so happy that they're being held accountable for their actions."
During the press conference, Howard revealed Young had been charged with "attempting to elude" officers, but Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is ordering the charges be dropped. Young suffered a fractured arm and a gash requiring 24 stitches as he was yanked from the car, along with several bruises after being punched "more than 10 times" in the back by officers. Bottoms has also since spoken out, admitting that while she understands authorities are "working very long hours under an enormous amount of stress," the video is "disturbing on many levels."
“I thought [we] were going to die.” College students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young speak out after graphic video shows Atlanta police using stun guns and dragging them from their car during protest. https://t.co/nYkiImeO9R pic.twitter.com/JxzqGth72O— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 2, 2020
The incident took place during protests over the death of George Floyd, a black male who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has since been arrested and charged. The African American man's death was captured on video that went viral across social media, sparking several protests and riots across the country against police brutality.
The Star Tribune reports a Minneapolis memorial service will be held on Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. local time, with reporter Heather Brown disclosing it will be held at North Central University. Rev. Al Sharpton will perform the eulogy at the service. A second memorial service will take place in North Carolina, the state where Floyd was born, on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. A specific location for the following service has not yet been announced.