Two Black Students Sue City Of Atlanta Over 2020 Arrest

Two students are suing the city of Atlanta after a May 30, 2020 arrest that they say inflicted trauma, anxiety and pain. 

A little more than a year after the terrifying event, Messiah Young and his girlfriend Taniyah Pilgrim still feel the effects. Pilgrim is a student at Spelman College, and Young is a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The students were driving near a George Floyd protest when they were targeted and forcibly removed from their vehicle. Body-camera footage released by police shows officers smashing through the driver’s side window and snatching Young, 23, and Pilgrim, 21, out of the vehicle. 

During a press conference held on Thursday (June 17), Young says the footage of himself and other black men across the U.S. serves as a “constant reminder” of what took place. 

RELATED: Atlanta Police Officers Reinstated After Being Fired For Tasing Incident

“A huge part of my life was diminished,” Young said. “Trying to move forward from this point is very irritating and very triggering. At a point, just seeing brutality continue, you would think there would be some type of reform or change at this point.”

Filed Thursday, the lawsuit names the city of Atlanta, Police Chief Rodney Bryant, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and nine police officers who were associated with the arrest. 

Attorney Harold Spence calls the lawsuit an “accountability action” and there never stood a time where “excessive force” and physical restraint was necessary. “No officer intervened that night,” Spence continued. “In fact, they became part of the maniacal feeding frenzy.”

A day after the incident, two officers, Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter, were fired, along with former Police Chief Erika Shields.  In total six officers have been charged in connection. 

The termination of the officers were reversed, as the city of Atlanta Civil Service Board discovered violations of city policies and other violations that resulted in two police officers’ fair process of rights. 

“I still can’t even process what happened,” Pilgrim said at a news conference last summer. “We felt like we were going to die in that car.”

Even a year later, this traumatizing event still causes the couple profound distress.

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