In May 2020, a viral video showed the forceful confrontation between six Atlanta cops, Spelman student Taniyah Pilgrim, and Morehouse student Messiah Young. The two HBCU students drove past officers after the city's 9 pm curfew, and in response, law enforcement swarmed their vehicle, employed stun guns against both occupants, and ripped them out of the car.
Pilgrim, the passenger, was never charged, but Young, the driver, was charged with attempting to elude officers. Per Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom's request, Young's charge was eventually dismissed.
At the time of the violent arrest, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told reporters, "I agree with Mayor [Keisha Lance] Bottoms and I agree with our police chief, Erika Shields, when they both have conveyed in so many separate ways that the conduct in this incident — it is not indicative of the way that we treat people in the city of Atlanta."
After an investigation of the incident, six Atlanta police officers, Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones, and Roland Claud were charged with battery and assault.
However, the temporary district attorney for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, announced on Monday (May 23) that the officers involved will not face charges after all. Samir Patel said the use of force by the Atlanta cops was "the direct result of Mr. Young and Ms. Pilgrim's resistance to and noncompliance with the officers' instructions."
Patel argued that the officers were acting in line with the police department's use of force policy and said the force ended after cops used stun guns on the two HBCU students.
"The video that was widely distributed through media in the days following May 30, 2020, was not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter between Mr. Young, Ms. Pilgrim, and law enforcement," the temporary district attorney said.
He continued, "I wholeheartedly believe that Georgia has made significant progress in improving how our communities and police work together and we must continue that positive path, always guided by the rule of law."