The Atlanta City Council Agrees to Pay $2 Million to Students Who Were Pulled From Their Cars During Protests in 2020

image by: WABE

IN ATLANTA — Two college students were shocked with Tasers and pulled from their car while they were stuck in downtown traffic because of protests over the death of George Floyd. The Atlanta City Council has agreed to pay them a settlement of $2 million.

On Monday, the City Council voted 13-1 to agree to the settlement amount. Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim had sued the city in federal court. The lawsuit, which was brought in June 2021, said that the police had no reason to pull the two students out of their car and shock them.

Young and Pilgrim were both students at Atlanta’s historically black colleges on May 30, 2020, when cops came up to them. A video of the fight went viral online very quickly, adding to the anger in a city that was already in the middle of protests.

The next day, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields said that three cops had been put on desk duty and two had been fired. A few days later, Paul Howard, who was Fulton County’s district attorney at the time, said that arrest warrants had been issued for six cops.

The two cops were fired, but in February 2021, the Atlanta Civil Service Board ruled that the city did not follow its own rules for firing people. The six police officers were charged, but the charges were dropped in May 2022 by a special prosecutor who was in charge of the case.

The resolution that the council passed on Monday says that any settlement should not be seen as admitting fault.

Pilgrim and Young’s lawyers were glad that the city agreed to settle.

Their lawyers, Dianna Lee, L. Chris Stewart, and Justin Miller, said in a statement, “This traumatic event has left a permanent mental and emotional scar on both of these young adults.” “This case has been a roller coaster of emotions for two college students who were attacked by police officers who used excessive force without a good reason.”

Young’s lawyer, Mawuli Davis, said, “The end of the civil case will allow these young people and their families to continue healing from this traumatic experience.” Davis also said, “It is important for them to help the community remember that the fight to stop police brutality continues.”

The police released the shocking body camera footage the next night, after the fight.

Another young man is shown begging with police to let him go while they arrest him in the middle of a traffic jam on a downtown street. He says he didn’t do anything wrong.

Young is in the driver’s seat of a stopped car in the street and seems to be recording video on his phone as a police officer walks up and opens the driver’s side door. Young shuts the door and tells the police to let the other man go so he can get into the car.

Young’s car gets stuck in traffic, and police running up to both sides of it yelling orders. Pilgrim tries to get out of the car, so an officer uses a Taser on her. Other police then pull her out of the car.

Young is told by another cop to park the car and open the window. A police officer hits the driver’s side window over and over with a stick until someone finally breaks it.

As the glass breaks, a cop tasers Young and then pulls him out of the car while yelling things like “Get your hands out of your pockets” and “He’s got a gun!” He got a gun. “He got a gun.” Police tie Young’s hands behind his back with a zip tie and lead him away once he’s out of the car and on the ground.

Reports from the police did not say that a gun had been found.


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