*Taniyah Pilgrim and her boyfriend, Messiah Young, were tased and arrested by a group of aggressive police officers in Atlanta last summer. Now they’re suing the mayor and the city.
“The anxiety that night brings me every day — the nightmares that I still have to experience every single night — it’s like life took a total turn, for something that we didn’t ask to be involved with,” Pilgrim said.
We previously reported… CBS 46 cameras captured the officer’s use of excessive force on Young, a Morehouse graduate and Young, a Spellman student.
Here’s more from blavity.com:
Teniyah was tased and yanked from the vehicle and slammed to the ground and cuffed. Officers busted out the driver’s side window and began excessively tasing Messiah. Messiah was then yanked from the car to the ground and cuffed. He says police punched him about 10 times while he was on the ground.
The incident occurred blocks away from a Black Lives Matter protest over the killing of George Floyd. Neither Young nor Pilgram were involved with the demonstrations.
Young was charged with fleeing the scene and driving on an expired license, but Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered those charges to be dropped.
“I know the pain that they go through and continue to go through, and accountability is what relieves pain and brings peace,” said attorney Mawuli Davis, who is representing Young, as reported by ajc.com. “And unfortunately, there has been no accountability.”
Davis said the two college students have been left with chronic physical pain, anxiety and emotional scars, and laceration that required nearly 20 stitches for Young.
Mayor Bottoms is named in the lawsuit as well as the officers involved in the arrest, including Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Lonnie Hood, Armond Jones, Willie T. Sauls and Ronald Claud.
Here’s more from Atlanta Constitution Journal:
The lawsuit also includes Atlanta Police Department officers Carlos Smith, Steven McKesey, Sheldon Drinkard and 10 anonymous officers deemed “John Doe Officers” who according to documents were nearby while the other officers deployed their Tasers and “despite being in a position to intervene, chose to stand by and watch without making any effort to stop the obvious use of excessive force.”
Six of the police officers involved with the incident were fired and charged for excessive use of force. Two have had their terminations overturned, according to the report.
“For these young people to have this video out and have to live with this for the rest of their lives is unthinkable, but we are here to hold the city and all those involved accountable,” Davis said.
Attorney L. Chris Stewart noted that during Young’s arrest, another officer yelled that he had a gun. Officer Armond Jones then pointed his service weapon at Young.
“There was no gun. There was no weapon. There wasn’t even mace. There was nothing,” Stewart said. “Yet, he screamed multiple times from a distance ‘he’s got a gun,’ which could’ve gotten these kids killed.”
Pilgrim and Young were taken into custody, both reportedly had the charges against them dismissed.
“Pilgrim was held against her will for four hours without a mask in a police van with others during the height of COVID,” said Stewart, who is representing her. “She was never charged with a crime.”
‘I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off the street’ — Atlanta students Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim are opening up about 6 officers pulling them from their car and tasing them as they sat in protest traffic (warning: distressing) pic.twitter.com/jzkcDUJ7un
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 3, 2020
The complaint accuses Bottoms of enforcing an unconstitutional curfew that gave Atlanta police officers free rein to “use excessive force against citizens who were committing no crime on May 30, 2020, so long as doing so was ‘incidental.’”
The lawsuit also claims the curfew “failed to provide fair notice to APD officers or citizens regarding the scope of the curfew and its prohibitions, including but not limited to the particular locations where the curfew applied and whether the curfew prohibited citizens from traveling through the city in a vehicle.”
The lawsuit seeks punitive damages for Pilgram and Young and or their legal fees to be covered. It also calls for the officers to face a jury trial.