Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Sunday that she ordered the firings of two police officers who were involved in the arrest of two African Americans on Saturday night, saying body camera footage shows they clearly used excessive force.
Bottoms said she shared the news "because that is what you will see happen each and every day with the city of Atlanta going forward. Our attitudes toward how we not only police our communities, but how we respond to policing our communities, has to change." Bottoms said while she understands how hard officers are working, and that they are clocking long hours, there is never any excuse for excessive force.
The incident involved Teniyah Pilgrom, a 20-year-old Spelman College student, and Messiah Young, a 22-year-old former Morehouse College student. Officers approached their car because they were out after the citywide curfew, and ordered them to get out of the vehicle. Body camera footage shows one officer yelling at the driver, using a baton to hit their window before smashing it. The officer then used a taser on the driver, while a second officer tased the passenger, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports.
Initially, police officials said the car was impeding traffic, and claimed Young and Pilgrom reached for a gun, but no weapon was recovered from the scene. Both have been released from custody, and charges will not be filed against them. Three other officers involved in the incident have been reassigned to desk duty, pending an investigation.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told the Journal-Constitution his office is working with Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and "moving rapidly to reach an appropriate charging decision" regarding the officers' conduct.