Six Atlanta police officers have been charged with aggravated assault, simple battery, and criminal damage to property, among various other related charges. Footage of the incident shows officers forcefully pulling two college students out of a car, smashing its windows, and using a stun gun during an arrest as protests continued nearby. The arrest warrants were issued for Lonnie Hood, Roland Claud, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones, Willie Sauls, and Ivory Streeter.
The incident was captured on body-camera footage, when officers stormed Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim’s car, smashing their windows and assaulting both of them. Young, who was driving Pilgrim’s car, stopped in traffic to shoot a video of an officer having an encounter with another man. Young asked the officer to allow the other young man to get into his car. From the body-cam footage, the officer is heard saying, “Go or go to jail,” which prompts Young to leave.
Police then catch up to the car, attempting to force the door open. Claud used a baton to smash the window, while Gardner and Streeter used stun guns on Pilgrim and Young as they were pulled out of the car.
Before Young was taken to the hospital, he was reportedly punched at least ten times in the back. Young suffered from a fractured wrist and received 24 stitches for a large laceration.
Pilgrim says that she is left with anxiety and nightmares from the incident. Officers threw Pilgrim to the ground and she landed face down on the pavement and was then handcuffed. Both Pilgrim and Young were then taken into custody.
Young was charged with eluding the police and was released on a signature bond. The initial charges against Young were dropped, and Pilgrim was never charged with anything after being held by the authorities following the incident.
“I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions, there was not one justifiable thing that they did,” said Pilgrim at the prosecutor’s press conference. “I hope they are all held accountable because it’s not OK.”
Four of the officers involved with the incident were fired, though two were reinstated soon after. All six of the officers involved in the incident are facing a range of charges from aggravated assault to criminal damage.
“Trying to move forward from this point is very, very irritating and very, very triggering at a point, just seeing brutality continue,” Messiah Young has said. “You would think that there would be some type of reform or change at this point – every day I’m reminded of something from that night… there’s no reason that the events that took place that night should have transpired how they did. It makes no sense at all. These are so-called professionals doing their so-called job, but we see on a daily basis that – there seems to be like a never-ending cycle of this.”
As a response to the lack of settlement, a lawsuit has been announced against the city of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and several of the police officers involved in the assault.