Two Black HBCU students who were dragged from their vehicle during a Black Lives Matter protest in Atlanta are suing the city, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the police department.
On Thursday, 21-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim and 23-year-old Messiah Young filed a federal lawsuit, which accuses Atlanta deputies of assault and false arrest for the May 2020 incident that sparked outrage across the nation.
Pilgrim and Young were headed home on the night of May 30th when they got stuck in traffic due to the ongoing unrest surrounding the murder of George Floyd. Shocking police bodycam video shows the moment when officers shouted at them while approaching their vehicle. The two were then tased and dragged from their car while they screamed and pleaded with the officers.
According to the suit, the police smashed their windows and physically assaulted them and had no justification. Young’s attorney, Mawuli Mel Davis, is demanding “accountability” for the unwarranted attack.
“For these young people to have this video out and have to live with this for the rest of their lives is unthinkable, but we are here to hold the city and all those involved accountable,” Davis stated at a press conference on Thursday.
Young was punched multiple times during the brutal beating and suffered a deep laceration to his arm that required 13 stitches. Despite both students being unarmed, an officer continued to scream that they had a gun, resulting in Pilgrim being tased.
“There was no gun. There was no weapon,” said Pilgrim’s attorney L. Chris Stewart. “Yet he screamed multiple times from a distance, “He’s got a gun,” ‘which could have gotten these kids killed.”
In total, six officers were hit with criminal charges, including simple battery, pointing or aiming a gun, aggravated assault, and criminal damage to property days after the beatings occurred. Those officers have been identified as Roland Claud, Ivory Streeter, Lonnie Hood, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones, and Willie Sauls.
Bottoms and former Police Chief Erika Shields fired Gardner and Streeter once the bodycam video went viral. However, in February, their firings were overturned by Atlanta’s Civil Service Board, who claimed the city did not follow its proper protocol when terminating the officers.
Shields stepped down two weeks after the incident.
“I thought [we] were going to die.” College students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young speak out after graphic video shows Atlanta police using stun guns and dragging them from their car during protest. https://t.co/nYkiImeO9R pic.twitter.com/JxzqGth72O
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 2, 2020