Atlanta protests: Six police officers charged with using excessive force in arrest of college students

Justin Vallejo
Journal-Constitution via AP

Six police officers in Atlanta have been charged with using excessive force during the arrest of “two of the nicest people” during protests over the death of George Floyd.

In an arrest captured on body cameras on Saturday night, police allegedly broke car windows to grab and use tasers against college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, leaving them with injuries including fractured wrists and large gashes requiring 24 stitches

Fulon County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Tuesday that both the students were innocent and gave corroborating versions of events.

“In fact my investigators concluded that they were so innocent almost to the point of being naive,” Mr Howard said.

“These were really two of the nicest people that we had ever gotten the chance to meet in the DA’s office.”

Arrest warrants were issued for officers Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones and Roland Claud.

The various charges levied against the officers include aggravated assault, simple battery, criminal damage to property, and pointing or aiming a gun.

Two of the officers, Mr Streeter and Mr Gardner, were fired on Sunday by Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Speaking at a press conference, Ms Pilgrim, 20, said she and Mr Young were driving home from the protests when she suffered the worst experience of her life.

“I hope every police officer who thinks it’s okay to drag someone, beat someone, do all this stuff because they’re cops, I hope they’re going to be held accountable as well,” Ms Pilgrim said.

Mr Young said it was only a small satisfaction that the police were held accountable and that there needed to be a change moving forward so all officers were held accountable in the culture of policing.

“I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorise anyone else from this point,” he added.

Mr Howard said a $10,000 (£7,975) signature bond has been set for all of the officers, who have been asked to turn themselves in by Friday to be processed by Fulton County Jail.

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