College Students Tased By Atlanta Police During George Floyd Protests To Get $2 MIllion Settlement – Essence

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JUNE 17: Taniyah Pilgrim (L) and Messiah Youngas listen to Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. announce 11 charges against former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe on June 17, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Rolfe is charged with felony murder of Rayshard Brooks, 27, on June 12 while chasing Brooks after a struggle during a field sobriety test in a Wendy’s restaurants parking lot. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Two Atlanta college students have received a $2 million settlement stemming from a lawsuit they filed after being tased and pulled from their car while they were stuck in traffic during a George Floyd protest in 2020, according to the AP.

Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim filed the lawsuit in June 2021, arguing that the police had no cause to pull them from their car and shock them. Video of the May 30, 2020, incident went viral, and immediate action was taken by then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and then-Police Chief Erica Shields, who fired two of the police officers and placed three others on desk duty.

 Police body cam footage released following the clash showed a young man saying he hadn’t done anything and pleading with officers to release him as they placed him under arrest during a traffic jam.

Young, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his car at the time, appeared to be filming the incident. The officers approached his car and yanked open the door. Young closed the door and told the officers to let the young man in custody go and let him get into his car.

Young then attempted to drive away but got stuck in traffic, and the officers ran up to both sides of the car, shouting demands. Pilgrim, who was in the passenger seat, tried to leave the vehicle, but at that point, officers tased her and pulled her from the car.

The scene escalated as police ordered Young to put the car in park and open the window. He refused, and the officers started trying to break the driver’s side window with a baton. They finally broke the window and tased Young and violently got him out of the car. 

In the footage,  police were also heard shouting, “Get your hand out of your pockets,” and, “He got a gun. He got a gun. He got a gun.” Young was then placed under arrest. However, no gun was ever found. 

The settlement with the city of Atlanta comes after the two officers who were fired were reinstated, and the six officers involved in the case were cleared of any charges. At the time of the 2022 ruling, the Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel explained that the officers’ actions were justified given the law. “Not only was law enforcement acting within the scope of their legal authority in their actions to obtain compliance, but their actions were also largely consistent with the Atlanta Police Department’s own use of force policy.”

In reaching the settlement, the Atlanta City Council, which approved the payout, was careful to say that it was not an admission of liability. However, Pilgrim’s lawyers, Dianna Lee, L. Chris Stewart, and Justin Miller, said in a statement to the AP, “This case has been a roller coaster of emotions for two innocent college students who were the victims of unjustifiable excessive force by officers of the APD.”

Young’s lawyer, Mawuli Davis, echoed the sentiment, “The resolution of the civil case will allow these young people and their families to continue healing from this traumatic experience,” Davis continued, “It is important for them to help the community to remember that the fight to prevent police brutality continues.”

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