The Atlanta Police Department has fired two officers who used excessive force in arresting two college students during Saturday night’s protests in Downtown.
The incident was caught on video widely circulated on social media that showed five officers tasing a Morehouse and a Spelman student – identified as Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim – in their car on International Boulevard near Centennial Olympic Park. The other three officers have been assigned desk duty pending further disciplinary action.
The two officers terminated were named as veteran officers Mark Gardner (23 years with APD) and Ivory Streeter (17 years with APD). Both served as investigators with APD’s Fugitive Unit.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields spent Sunday afternoon reviewing the officers’ body cameras before making the decision to terminate the two officers.
Bottoms said in a 6 p.m. press conference that the bodycam images were “awful” and ordered charges dropped against the two students. “Excessive force is never acceptable,” Bottoms said.
Shields said she was “shocked” by the bodycam footage. “We have a responsibility not to escalate and cause harm or injury. I was shocked by the video of how these college students were manhandled in their car. I knew there was only one option and that was to terminate these officers. I apologize to both of the students and how we behaved as an agency. It was unacceptable.”
Below is the footage from former officer Streeter’s body camera that shows the incident. Be warned that the images are graphic and disturbing.