Atlanta police

Fired Atlanta Officers File Suit Against Mayor, Police Chief

The fired officers want their jobs to be reinstated, as well as back pay and benefits

In this Saturday, May 30, 2020, photo taken from police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department, an officer points his handgun at Messiah Young while the college student is seated in his vehicle, in Atlanta. The following day, Atlanta's mayor two police officers were fired and three others placed on desk duty over excessive use of force during the arrest of Young and fellow college student Taniyah Pilgrim, seated in the passenger side of the car.
(Atlanta Police Department via AP

Two Atlanta police officers who were fired after video showed them using stun guns on two college students pulled from a car in traffic during a large protest against police brutality are looking to get their jobs back.

Former Investigators Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter sued Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields on Monday.

The lawsuit alleges that the officers were fired in violation of the city's code, without investigation, proper notice or a pre-disciplinary hearing.

Bottoms and Shields have said they reviewed body camera footage from the May 30 incident and decided to immediately fire the officers and place three others on desk duty. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard brought criminal charges on June 2 against Gardner, Streeter and four other officers involved in the incident.

Gardner and Streeter are charged with aggravated assault — Gardner for using a Taser against 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim and Streeter for using a Taser against 22-year-old Messiah Young — according to warrants.

Pilgrim and Young, who are dating, are students at different historically black colleges near downtown Atlanta. Pilgrim was released the night of the incident with no charges. Young was arrested and charged with eluding police, but the mayor has said she ordered the charges dropped.

Shields has since questioned the timing and appropriateness of the charges against the officers.

In their lawsuit, the fired officers seek reinstatement to their jobs, as well as back pay and benefits. The suit states that the officers were denied due process, and that the other officers who “engaged in substantially similar conduct” were not dismissed.

Neither Bottoms nor the police department responded to a request for comment late Monday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Lawyers for the college students have said their clients were caught in traffic caused by a protest over the May 25 police custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Four Minneapolis officers were arrested in the death of the African American man.


This story has been corrected to show the filing was a lawsuit, not a court order.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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