The six Atlanta police officers who were accused of battery and aggravated assault against two HBCU students during a 2020 George Floyd protest have been cleared of all wrongdoing.
Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney announced Monday he was dropping the charges against the officers after an independent review suggested the officers were justified in their ‘use of force.’
“The evidence in this case shows that the involved officers’ use of force was the direct result of Mr. Young and Ms. Pilgrim’s resistance to and noncompliance with the officers’ instructions,” said Patel in a GBI news release. “The facts indicate that the officers’ actions were taken in response to Mr. Young’s and Ms. Pilgrim’s active resistance to the officers’ directives.”
On May 20, 2020, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim were stopped by police around 10 pm on Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Boulevard.
The two HBCU students were leaving a protest against the murder of George Floyd and a citywide curfew had just gone into effect.
Video footage of the incident shows officers smashing out the driver’s side window of the vehicle occupied by the two students. Officers then tased the couple, dragging them from the car before arresting them.
Messiah Young, who was a senior at Morehouse during the time of the incident suffered a fractured arm. He was also badly cut during the altercation and needed more than 20 stitches to close up his wounds.
“We felt like we were going to die in that car,” said Taniyah Pilgrim in an interview days after the incident.
Parents of the students have expressed their disappointment in the decision to clear the six officers involved.
“The world witnessed the outrageous and unjustified level of violence perpetrated against these college students,” said the attorneys for Young and Pilgrim. “How can a broken arm and 25 stitches be deemed the appropriate response for an alleged curfew violation?”
Although Young and Pilgrim say they did nothing wrong, District Attorney Samir Patel believed the actions of the officers directly correlated with the student’s noncompliance with the officers. He also stated the video of the incident wasn’t an accurate portrayal of the incident.
“The decision before my office is to determine if a criminal offense was committed and to follow the rule of law,” said Patel. “In this matter, the state is unable to find probable cause to prosecute the officers involved.”
It’s been two years since the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin. Although Chauvin now sits in jail for his crimes, far too often police officers are not held accountable for their wrongdoings.
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