Students tased during protest

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- Six Atlanta police officers, including two former officers, now face charges for their role in the use of a stun gun and other force against two people during a protest. The entire incident was aired live on CBS46 News during demonstrations on Saturday. 

Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. and members of his office announced charges against two officers already fired and four others for their involvement in the incident involving Taniyah Pilgrim, and Messiah Young over the weekend. D.A. Howard said he and his team watched CBS46's video extensively and interviewed the students before deciding on charges.

The charges include:

Officer Lonnie Hood

  • 2 counts of aggravated assault (using taser)
  • Simple battery 

Officer Willie Sauls

  • Aggravated assault (pointing taser)
  • Criminal damage to property (vehicle involved)

Officer Ivory Streeter

  • Aggravated assault (used taser)
  • Pointing or aiming gun at Messiah Young

Officer Mark Gardner

  • Aggravated assault (used taser)

Officer Armond Jones 

  • Aggravated battery of Messiah Young
  • Pointing or aiming a gun at Messiah Young

Officer Roland Claud

  • Criminal damage to property (vehicle involved)

Each have until June 5 to turn themselves in. Each have been granted a $10,000 signature bond.

CBS46 cameras captured the incident on live television when Messiah Young, 22, and Teniyah Pilgrim, 20, were taken into custody after the 9 p.m. curfew went into effect Saturday night. Young is a student at Morehouse College, and Pilgrim attends Spelman College.

Young and Pilgrim were leaving the protest at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in a car at the time. The footage shows an officer approach the car as Young, the driver, tried to videotape someone being arrested near the sidewalk. Officers tell the couple to keep moving. After words are exchanged, an officer opens the door and tries to grab Young, who drives off and closes his door. He doesn't get very far because there's traffic in front of him. That's when several officers swarmed the car and started beating on the windows.

Pilgrim eventually opens her door and within seconds is hit with Gardner's Taser as she screams, "I didn't do nothing!" Other officers shatter the driver's side window, and Streeter deploys his Taser, striking Young. During the commotion, an officer yells, "He's got a gun! He's got a gun!"

No gun was found.

Howard said in the Tuesday press conference that Messiah Young told him an officer punched him more than 10 times in the back as he was being escorted. He was restrained at the time. 

In a report filed by Officer Gardner, he said officers were attempting to secure Young and Pilgrim. He said he approached the passenger side and gave verbal commands to Pilgrim to "show her hands and stop resisting." Then, Gardner says he heard other officers shout "gun." Gardner said he couldn't see the hands of the passenger, so that's when he Tased her.

"I was not sure if she or the male driver was the one suspected of possessing the handgun. I served in a back up roll to officers that were making the arrest based on a traffic stop. My purpose for deploying my taser was to bring the female under control for which the officer I was assisting was making an arrest. I did not witness the initial traffic violation or crime under which she or her male companion were being investigated," Gardner said in his report.

Pilgrim was detained and later released at the scene without charges. Young was initially charged with fleeing the scene and driving with an expired license, but the mayor later ordered those charges to be dropped.

An Atlanta Police Department spokesman said Investigator Ivory Streeter had been with the Atlanta Police Department for more than 16 years. Investigator Mark Gardner had been with the department for more than 22 years.

APD Chief Erika Shields talked about both officers shortly after the incident occurred. “These are good guys," Shields said. "I know them as individuals. I’ve worked with the one for over 20 years. But they made that level of mistake that cannot be rolled back.”

The officers were terminated for violating the department's excessive force policy and three other officers were placed on desk duty pending further investigation.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made the announcement during a press conference Sunday.

"After review of that footage, Chief [Erika] Shields and I have made the determination that two of the officers involved in the incident last night will be terminated immediately," the mayor said.

Shields also spoke at the press conference, echoing the mayor's comments.

Click here to watch the press conference

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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