A special prosecutor has dismissed charges for six officers who were accused of using excessive force against two college students in Atlanta in 2020.
Special Prosecutor Samir Patel said the officers’ actions were not unlawful and were consistent with the Atlanta Police Department’s use of force policy, WSB-TV reported.
“It became abundantly clear based upon the case law that these officers acted within their lawful scope and their actions were not criminal,” he said.
According to CBS News, on May 30, 2020 Messiah Young, 22 and Taniyah Pilgrim, 20 were leaving a George Floyd protest when they were approached by police officers for violating the city’s curfew set for 9:00 pm.
Video of the ordeal captured an officer telling Young to keep driving, however moments later another officer attempted to pull Young out of the vehicle. Young was able to get away from that officer but, after driving a few feet down the road several officers surrounded the car and began tasing the two students. Young alleges during the encounter he was forced onto the pavement and punched several times by officers.
According to CNN, then-mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was disturbed when she saw the video and ordered charges to be dropped against the man. The woman was not charged.
“As we watch the video today, it became abundantly clear immediately with the young woman that this force was excessive,” Bottoms said in 2020. “It also became abundantly clear that the officer who tased the young man needed to be terminated as well.”
Days after the incident Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced arrest warrants for officers Ivory Streeter, Lonnie Hood, Mark Gardner, Ronald Claud, Willie Sauls and Armond Jones, USA Today reported.
A nine-month independent investigation was launched into the ordeal and found that the officers acted within the scope of their duties.
Patel alleges the video of the incident was “not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter” and that his office was “unable to find probable cause to prosecute the officers involved for a crime under Georgia law,” USA Today reported.
However, attorneys for Young and Pilgrim disagree with the special prosecutor’s decision and said, the students “and their families are incredibly disappointed and disheartened by the decision announced today…the world witnessed the outrageous and unjustified level of violence perpetrated against these college students. How can a broken arm and 25 stitches be deemed the appropriate response for an alleged curfew violation?”
Attorney Justin Miller stated that the students will soon file a civil suit, WSB-TV reported.
“We’re here to make sure business does not continue as usual, that we keep pushing forward for civil rights, especially for these young people,” he said.
The officers were reinstated by the city in February 2021.