BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:22am July 04, 2024,

$2M settlement reached with 2 college students pulled from car during the 2020 demonstrations

Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim were confronted by Atlanta police officers during the 2020 George Floyd protests -- Images via Atlanta Police Department

A $2 million settlement has been reached with two college students who were tased and pulled out of a car during the 2020 protests that erupted in Atlanta after George Floyd’s murder. According to The Associated Press, the settlement was approved by the Atlanta City Council in a 13-1 vote on Monday.

The settlement comes after the plaintiffs Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim filed a federal lawsuit in June 2021. The pair claimed that there was no basis for the police to pull them out of the car and tase them.

The confrontation in question happened on May 30, 2020, and the two students were attending historically Black colleges. The video of the incident also drew outrage and exacerbated tensions as the city was already grappling with the protests.

Two officers involved in the confrontation were ultimately terminated while three others were assigned desk duty. A few days later, six police officers were charged in connection with the incident.

But the two fired officers were reinstated in February 2021 after the Atlanta Civil Service Board determined the city contravened its procedures regarding personnel matters, The Associated Press reported. A special prosecutor in May 2022 also dropped the charges against the six police officers.

Despite the settlement, the resolution stated that it did not mean it was an admission of liability. Pilgrim and Young’s lawyers, however, welcomed the settlement in a statement. 

“This traumatic incident has left a permanent mental and emotional scar on both of these young adults,” Pilgrim’s lawyers, Dianna Lee, L. Chris Stewart and Justin Miller, said. “This case has been a roller coaster of emotions for two innocent college students who were the victims of unjustifiable excessive force by officers of the APD.”

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

What happened?

The incident occurred at the time the city was enforcing a curfew aimed at curtailing rioting and looting following the George Floyd protests demanding an end to racism and police brutality against blacks. In a body camera video of the incident, an officer is seen trying to pull out the driver from the vehicle, which was stopped in the middle of the street, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The two African-American College students were yelled at continually to stop the vehicle and open the window by an officer. That officer also banged the driver’s side window with a baton before deciding it was time to smash it. And that he did.

The occupants of the vehicle were then tased by the howling officer and a colleague amid cries and pleas for the officers to stop. The incident reportedly occurred at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Boulevard.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 4, 2024

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