Two Atlanta University Center students, Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, have filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta after they were pulled from their cars and tased following a protest. The lawsuit accuses police officers of assault and false arrest while escalating a nonviolent situation by pulling out a gun.
“Accountability is what relieves pain and brings peace, and unfortunately there has been no accountability,” attorney Mawuli Mel Davis said.
The incident in question took place on May 30, 2020, in the greater Atlanta area. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had issued a curfew in an effort to curb protests against police violence. Unaware of the curfew, Young was driving home as Pilgrim sat in the passenger seat. Attempting to clear the area where a protest was taking place, an officer waved Young forward and instructed him to leave the area. Young drove forward a few feet, but was stuck in traffic yet again. Sitting in traffic, Young began to film police officers as they confronted a person on the side of the street. From there, officers confronted Young and Pilgrim as they sat in the car. According to the lawsuit, one officer claimed the pair had a gun and began to tase them and pull them out of the car.
“There was no gun. There was no weapon," Pilgrim's attorney, L. Chris Stewart, said.
“Yet he screamed multiple times from a distance, ‘He’s got a gun,' which could have gotten these kids killed."
The two left the encounter with multiple lacerations and other injuries.
“The anxiety that night brings me every day — the nightmares that I still have to experience every single night — it’s like life took a total turn, for something that we didn’t ask to be involved with,” Pilgrim said about the incident.
“It’s like life took a total turn for something that we didn’t ask to be involved with."
Bottoms and former Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields attempted to fire the officers involved. While two officers are no longer on the force, two other officers were reinstated in February.