Two officers fired in ‘excessive force’ arrests in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — Two police officers have been fired and three others placed on desk duty over excessive use of force during a protest arrest incident involving two college students, Atlanta’s mayor said early yesterday.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference that she and police Chief Erika Shields made the decision after reviewing body-camera footage of a Saturday night incident that first gained attention from video online and on local news.

“Use of excessive force is never acceptable,” Bottoms told reporters. Shields called the footage “really shocking to watch”.

Police on Sunday night identified the fired officers as Investigator Ivory Streeter, who was hired in December 2003, and Investigator Mark Gardner, who was hired in August 1997.

Bottoms said the woman, Taniyah Pilgrim, was released without charges. She said the man, Messiah Young, was released, too, and she’s ordering the charges against him dropped. She didn’t specify what charges he faced. A police report said Young was charged with attempting to elude police and driving with a suspended licence.

Dramatic body camera video that police released shows police taking another young man into custody in a downtown street alongside a line of stopped cars. The man pleaded police to let him go, saying he didn’t do anything.

Young, sitting in the driver’s seat of a car stopped in the street holds up his phone, appearing to shoot video as an officer approached and pulled the driver’s side door open. Young pulled the door shut and said repeatedly, “I’m not dying today.”

He urges the officers to release the other man and let him get in the car as the dark sedan advances a bit.

The car gets stuck in traffic and officers run up to both sides of the car shouting orders. An officer used a stun gun on Pilgrim as she’s trying to get out of the car and then officers pull her from the vehicle.

Another officer yelled at Young to put the car in park and open the window. An officer repeatedly hits the driver’s side window with a baton, and another officer finally manages to break it.

As the glass shatters, an officer used a stun gun on Young and officers pulled him from the car as officers shouted, “Get your hand out of your pockets,” and, “He got a gun. He got a gun. He got a gun.” Once he’s out of the car and on the ground, officers zip tie Young’s hands behind his back and lead him away.

Police reports do not list a gun as having been recovered.

The mayor said she had delayed the news conference several hours to review all the body-camera footage because she and Shields wanted to be certain about what happened.