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6 Atlanta officers charged for allegedly using excessive force

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June 2 (UPI) — Authorities in Georgia filed criminal charges against six Atlanta police officers Tuesday, accusing them of using excessive force against two people protesting police brutality.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said the six officers — Roland Claud, Mark Gardner, Lonnie Hood, Armond Jones, Willie Sauls and Ivory Streeter — have until Friday to surrender to police.

They face a variety of charges, including aggravated assault, simple battery, pointing or aiming a gun, and criminal damage to property. The officers were recorded on video breaking the windows of a vehicle and pulling Taniyah Pilgrim out, and using a stun gun on Messiah Young on Saturday.

At the time of the incident, Pilgrim, 20, and Young, 22, both students at historically black colleges — Morehouse and Spellman — were in a vehicle leaving a protest in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Police said they broke the city’s curfew.

One officer wrote in the police report that he didn’t know if either of the two students was armed.

“I heard officers say gun two-three times,” the unnamed officer wrote. “Not being able to see the hands of the passenger and being that she was in my immediate sight I deployed my city-issued taser to diffuse the situation.”

Howard said Pilgrim and Young “were so innocent almost to the point of being naive.”

“The conduct in this incident isn’t indicative of the way we treat people in the city of Atlanta and it certainly isn’t indicative of how we treat our children,” he added.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fired Gardner and Streeter on Sunday. The other four officers were on desk duty.

The Georgia NAACP compared the incident to other police use of force against African Americans across the country.

“We are done with the brutality and dehumanization of black bodies,” the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, said Sunday.

Gardner and Streeter are black, while Claud, Hood, Jones and Sauls are white.

Young attended Tuesday’s news conference.

“I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to terrorize anyone else from this point on,” he said.

Howard said he plans to ask a judge to grant a $100,000 signature bond for each of the six officers charged.

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