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No charges for Atlanta officers over May 2020 encounter with college students

FILE - In this photo taken from police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police...
FILE - In this photo taken from police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department, an officer points his handgun at Messiah Young while the college student is seated in his vehicle, in Atlanta, Saturday, May 30, 2020. On Monday, May 23, 2022, a prosecutor said he would not prosecute Atlanta police officers involved in the May 2020 confrontation with two college students who were stunned with Tasers and pulled from a car while they were stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd's death.(Atlanta Police Department via AP, File)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 7:49 PM CDT
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ATLANTA (WGCL/Gray News) - The arrest affidavits for the police officers involved in an incident with two college students in May 2020 have been dismissed, according to a press release.

The arrest affidavits were issued for Lonnie Hood, Roland Claud, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones, Willie Sauls and Ivory Streeter.

Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim were approached by police officers at 9:44 p.m. on May 30, 2020, after they violated curfew.

After the incident, attorneys for Pilgrim and Young claimed the police officers stormed their car, smashed the car windows and physically assaulted Young and Pilgrim. The incident was caught on camera and went viral after it was shared on social media.

According to the Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney, the evidence in the case, which was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shows that the involved officers’ use of force, including the use of a Taser, was the direct result of Young and Pilgrim’s resistance and refusal to obey the officers’ instructions.

The district attorney also says that as soon as Young and Pilgrim were subdued, any force used by the officers ended immediately.

Additionally, 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, according to the district attorney.

The district attorney’s office says that the video that was distributed by the media in the days following the incident was not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter between Young, Pilgrim and law enforcement.

The curfew was in place because of protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Young was reportedly filming protesters being arrested. Police told Young and Pilgrim to keep moving but they were unable to do so.

Young’s arm was fractured and cut during the incident and it required stitches. Pilgrim also claimed that she was injured. Both Young and Pilgrim claimed they suffered emotional and physical trauma.

Pilgrim was a student at Spelman College and Young was a student at Morehouse College at the time of the incident.

The following statement was issued on behalf of Young and Pilgrim by their attorneys, L. Chris Stewart, Justin Miller and Mawuli Davis:

“Messiah Young, Taniyah Pilgrim and their families are incredibly disappointed and disheartened by the decision announced today by the Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney that charges against the Atlanta Police Dept. officers have been dismissed.

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 fact that these students and their families had to wait in anguish and put their lives on hold for two years while this case was kicked around the legal system is equally outrageous.

The narrative that Georgia is on a ‘positive path’ as it relates to police accountability is a lie that should not be uttered or repeated. This decision only further erodes community confidence in the justice system.”

The following statement was issued on the behalf of officers Gardner and Streeter by their attorney, Lance LoRusso:

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