Two Atlanta police officers fired for using excessive force in the arrest of two African American college students after a video showed them dragging them from a car and tasing them are suing the police chief and the city’s mayor.
The former officers – Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner – filed the suit challenging their sacking on Monday at the Fulton County State Court.
Streeter and Gardner said in the suit that they have “suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal.”
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This comes days after authorities in Atlanta charged Streeter and Gardner and four others for using excessive force in the arrest of Spelman College student Teniyah Pilgrom, 20, and former Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, while in a dark-colored Sedan driving near downtown Atlanta during a protest when the incident happened.
In a body camera video of the incident, which occurred at the time the city was enforcing a curfew aimed at curtailing rioting and looting following a nationwide protest in the aftermath of George Floyd’s gruesome killing to demand an end to racism and police brutality against blacks, 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.
Pilgrom and Young 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.
Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference that the two officers were fired after a painstaking review of the body camera footage. Three others were also placed on desk duty pending investigations.
“I share (the officers’ firings) with you because that is what you will see happen each and every day with the city of Atlanta going forward,” Bottoms said. “Our attitudes toward how we not only police our communities but how we respond to policing our communities has to change.”
The Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood Police Officers, Vince Champion said the firing of the former officer was premature.
“There’s a process. There’s an investigation. Then you determine what actually happened,” he was quoted as saying.