Charges dismissed against officers who stopped Tased students in cars A viral video showed officers using their Tasers and forcing Morehouse and Spelman students out of their cars.
ATLANTA — Several Atlanta police officers no longer face charges after they were arrested for pulling two college students from a car in the summer of 2020.
You may recall body camera video that showed officers pulling students out of a car during a protest in downtown Atlanta over the killing of George Floyd.
Mark Winne, Channel 2 investigative journalist spoke exclusively on Monday with the special prosecutor who has decided to clear these officers of any wrongdoing.
Special Prosecutor Samir Patel said the encounter near Centennial Olympic Park led to charges against six officers – some felonies. One officer was only charged with one misdemeanor. All were obtained by the office of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard through a judge.
But Howard’s successor, Fani Willis, pulled out of the case over a dispute, and the attorney general appointed Patel.
“This decision may upset a lot of people, but I can’t let that come to mind when I made this decision,” Patel said. “The right thing to do in applying the law and the facts is to decline to prosecute this case.”
Patel said his primary job was as a district attorney for Bartow and Gordon counties.
But last year, he took on the job of special prosecutor to determine whether six Atlanta police officers had just done their job or were breaking the law on May 30, 2020, at the chaotic epicenter of protests and more downtown. of Atlanta during their meeting with students Messiah Young and Pèlerin from Taniya.
He determined that criminal charges related to the incident against APD officers Ivory Streeter, Lonnie Hood, Mark Gardner, Roland Claud, Willie Sauls and Armond Jones should be dismissed.
“These officers had no intention of violating any criminal law,” Patel said. “Early August I asked the GBI to do an investigation which was increasingly difficult for them because I was asking them to investigate something that had happened over a year before and they made a incredible work.”
Patel said the encounter took place on the first night of a 9 p.m. curfew set by then-Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in an apparent effort to single out those peacefully protesting the murder. of George Floyd of others who wanted to sow chaos.
He cited the civil service testimony of former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.
“It was a powder keg that we were sitting on,” Shields said.
“These officers have been ordered to detain individuals in violation of curfew,” Patel said.
Patel said Young, who was driving a car, police stopped downtown about 44 minutes after curfew, and Pilgrim maintained they were unaware of the curfew. fire.
“Initially, Messiah Young was trying to film the arrest of a pedestrian, possibly a nearby friend?” Winne asked Patel.
“That’s right,” Patel said.
Patel said body camera video shows three encounters between APD officers and the car within minutes where initially officers could have arrested the couple for violating curfew, they just wanted them to move on and do not impede traffic.
“Officers made repeated attempts to obtain compliance, they refused, and these officers used whatever force they deemed necessary and reasonable,” Patel said.
Patel said that after the first encounter, Young moved the car a short distance. In the second, he accelerated with an officer hunched over in his vehicle. In the third, Young’s once-open window was rolled up and the driver’s door, once opened, was locked.
“Was your decision closer to what happened to Taniyah Pilgrim?” Winne asked Patel.
“It was,” Patel said.
Patel said Pilgrim, who had obeyed the direction of an officer during the first stop to get back into the car, began to comply at the third by sticking out his leg, but then pulled it out and was Tased.
Then an officer smashed Young’s window and he was also shocked.
Patel said neither Young nor Pilgrim were charged, nor should the officers be.
“It has become very clear based on the case law that these officers acted within their legal sphere of action and that their actions were not criminal,” Patel said.
His attorney Mawuli Davis said Young fractured his arm and received about 20 stitches.
He said an unknown officer repeatedly punched Young in the back at a location away from the scene.
Justin Miller, attorney for Pilgrim and Davis, said people were frustrated and angered by the ruling that what happened to the students shouldn’t have happened and that many black Americans know that the idea that Georgia progress in police accountability is a myth.
Young and Pilgrim’s attorneys released a statement Monday evening, saying:
“Messiah Young, Taniyah Pilgrim and their families are incredibly disappointed and discouraged by the decision announced today by the Cherokee Judicial District Attorney that charges against Atlanta Police Department officers have been dismissed.
“The world has witnessed the outrageous and unjustified level of violence perpetrated against these students. How can a broken arm and 25 stitches be considered the proper response for an alleged curfew violation?
“The fact that these students and their families had to wait in anguish and put their lives on hold for two years while this case was thrown out of court is equally outrageous.
“The narrative that Georgia is on a ‘positive path’ when it comes to police accountability is a lie that should not be told or repeated. This decision only further erodes community confidence in the justice system.
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