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Six Atlanta officers charged after students pulled from car during Floyd protest

Kate Brumback, Associated Press

Six Atlanta police have been charged after a dramatic video showed officers pulling two young people from a car and shooting them with stun guns while they were stuck in traffic caused by protests over George Floyd’s death, a prosecutor said.

Fulton County dstrict attorney Paul Howard announced the charges during a news conference.

“I feel a little safer now that these monsters are off of the street and no longer able to terrorise anyone else,” said 22-year-old Messiah Young, who was dragged from the vehicle along with his girlfriend, 20-year-old Taniyah Pilgrim, when they were caught in traffic.

The Saturday night incident first gained attention from video online and on local news. Throughout, the couple can be heard screaming and asking officers what is happening.

Police body camera video (Atlanta Police Department/AP)

Two of the officers were fired on Sunday after Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Police Chief Erika Shields determined from body camera footage that they had used excessive force.

Ms Pilgrim was released without charges. Mr Howard said Mr Young was charged with attempting to elude the officers but the mayor has said she is ordering his charges should be dropped.

Body camera video from seven officers shows police taking another young man into custody in a street alongside a line of stopped cars. The man, who Mr Howard identified as Chancellor Meyers, is pleading with police to let him go, saying he did not do anything.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of a car stopped in the street, Mr Young holds up his phone, appearing to shoot video as an officer approaches and pulls the driver’s side door open.

Mr Young pulls the door shut and says repeatedly, “I’m not dying today”, He urges the officers to release the other man and let him get in the car.

Messiah Young (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)

The car gets stuck in traffic and officers run up to both sides of the car shouting orders. An officer uses a stun gun on Ms Pilgrim as she is trying to get out of the car and then officers pull her from the vehicle.

Another officer yells at Mr Young to put the car in park and open the window. An officer repeatedly hits the driver’s side window with a baton, and another finally manages to break it.

As the glass shatters, an officer uses a stun gun on Mr Young and officers pull him from the car as officers shout, “Get your hand out of your pockets”, and, “He got a gun”.

Once he is out of the car and on the ground, officers tie his hands behind his back and lead him away.

Mr Howard said no gun was found.

Mr Young’s arm was fractured and he suffered a gash requiring 24 stitches when he was pulled from the car, Mr Howard said. Mr Young told Mr Howard’s investigators that an officer who escorted him from the scene after his arrest punched him in the back more than 10 times as they walked.

“I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions,” Ms Pilgrim said at the news conference.

Taniyah Pilgrim (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP)

Mr Young and Ms Pilgrim attend historically black colleges near central Atlanta.

The two officers whose firings were announced on Sunday — Investigator Ivory Streeter and Investigator Mark Gardner, who are both black — were charged along with four other officers.

Streeter is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against Mr Young and is also charged with pointing a gun at him, arrest warrants say.

Gardner is charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against Ms Pilgrim, a warrant says

Lonnie Hood and Willie Sauls are charged with aggravated assault for using a Taser against them.

Armon Jones is charged with aggravated battery for hurting Mr Young’s left arm when he dragged him from the car, and with pointing a gun at Young.

Roland Claud is charged with criminal damage for using a “window punch” to break the windows of Ms Pilgrim’s car.