The Atlanta officers who dragged two college students out of their car while they sat in traffic amidst a Black Lives Matter protest will not face prosecution, per NBC News. The former Fulton-County District Attorney Paul Howard announced arrest warrants for the six officers involved but the prosecutor said they could not be charged with a crime under Georgia law.
In May of 2020, Messiah Young and Taniya Pilgrim were trying to get past a crowd of demonstrators after city curfew when they were confronted by police. Per the body camera footage that was released a day later, the officers arrested Young while he pleaded for them to let him go. The two were also stunned with Tasers.
The prosecutor decided to dismiss the arrest warrants filed against the six officers: Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Lonnie Hood, Roland Claud, Willie Sauls and Armon Jones.
More on the decision from NBC News:
“Not only was law enforcement acting within the scope of their legal authority in their actions to obtain compliance, their actions were also largely consistent with the Atlanta Police Department’s own use of force policy,” Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel said in a statement Monday.
He said he is “unable to find probable cause to prosecute the officers involved for a crime under Georgia law.”
Patel’s statement says video that was distributed after the incident “was not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter between Mr. Young, Ms. Pilgrim, and law enforcement.” It wasn’t immediately clear whether he was meant the first videos that circulated online or the body camera video.
Once the video of the incident went viral online, former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former Police Chief Erika Shields announced two of the six officers had been fired, per NBC. Bottoms said the use of excessive force was “really shocking to watch.”
The attorneys representing the two students, Justin Miller and Mawuli Davis, said in a statement they were “incredibly disappointed and disheartened” by the prosecutor’s decision.
“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?” the lawyers said to NBC.
The definition of “excessive force” should be straightforward at this point. Too many officers have gotten away with misconduct, abusing their power against people who didn’t need to be handled that way.