2 Atlanta officers fired after video shows them using ‘excessive force’ on 2 college students during protests

Two Atlanta police officers fired after video appears to show excessive force against protesters

ATLANTA — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Sunday night that two Atlanta police officers have been terminated after a viral video showed them using excessive force in the arrest of two college students during protests Saturday night.

Video of the incident showed officers tasing the two students as they sat in their vehicle and then forcefully dragging them out of the car.

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Bottoms said in a news conference Sunday night that it clearly was an excessive use of force.

“Some time during the night, I saw very disturbing video of two young college students who were in downtown Atlanta yesterday evening,” Bottoms said. “Our officers are working very long hours are under a very high amount of stress, but the use of force is never acceptable.”

Bottoms said that body camera video of the incident will be available shortly.

Bottoms said a total of five officers were involved in the incident, but after a review of the footage, two officers were fired and the other three have been placed on desk duty.

Earlier Sunday, the presidents of the colleges that make up the Atlanta University Center asked for an investigation into the arrests.

"While we understand the need to maintain order, the abusive behavior reported to us is completely unacceptable," AUC officials said.

Officials with Spelman’s Student Government Association identified the students as Taniyah Pilgram, who attends Spelman, and Messiah Young, a recent graduate of Morehouse.

Both students have since been released from custody. The Spelman SGA said Young had an epileptic seizure while in custody.

On Sunday, students and officials from the AUC gathered at Centennial Olympic Park to protest law enforcement’s treatment of African Americans.

“It is clear that the behavior of law enforcement in this country must change,” officials said. “Incidents like the one last night and the many events of police violence (recorded and unrecorded) leading up to today heighten the urgency of this need for change. And we support our students as champions and activists on behalf of change.”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 30: A police line is seen during a protest in response to the police killing of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Across the country, protests have erupted following the recent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the most recent in a series of deaths of black Americans by the police. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MAY 30: A police line is seen during a protest in response to the police killing of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Across the country, protests have erupted following the recent death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the most recent in a series of deaths of black Americans by the police. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images) (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)