ATLANTA — A city review board says that two Atlanta police officers who were fired for using a stun gun and excessive force on two college students during summer protests should get their jobs back.
The Atlanta Civil Service Board ruled in favor of officers Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter on Monday. The board said the city didn’t follow its termination policy and denied the officers due process.
Attorney Lance LoRusso, who represents the officers, told Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston both Gardner and Streeter will get their jobs back plus eight months of back pay.
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A viral video on social media and body camera footage showed officers use Tasers on Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim while they sat in their car on May 30.
The officers then forcefully dragged them out of the car and arrested them.
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Former Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms fired the officers after the video surfaced, saying it was a clear use of excessive force. Four other officers were placed on administrative leave.
In an interview with Channel 2 Action News last year, Lorusso criticized Howard, saying he rushed the criminal charges against all six officers for political reasons.
Right now, the case is in the hands of the Georgia attorney general’s office after Howard’s successor Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis referred the case to them.
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Bottoms released the following statement.
“While the Civil Service Board (CSB) has reversed the termination of the officers, given the unrest across our city and nation at the time, and the disturbing video footage before us, I still believe that the right decision was made. It is also important to note that the CSB did not say that the officers’ conduct was lawful. This incident, and others, have resulted in changes to our use-of-force policy, including de-escalation training and guidance on when and how to intervene in specific situations. It is my sincere hope that these policy changes and additional training for our officers will help eliminate the potentially life-threatening and deadly encounters that have happened in the past.”
Mawuli Davis, attorney for college student Young, released a statement regarding the reinstatement:
“The family of Messiah Young, the Morehouse College student brutally attacked by six Atlanta Police Department officers in a May 30, 2020 incident captured on video, was stunned and saddened to learn through the media that two of the officers involved in the attack have been reinstated to the Atlanta Police Department.
Recently, the family learned, also through the media, that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office is turning over handling of the cases of Messiah’s six assailants to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. In two consecutive weeks they have experienced the pain of the justice system continuing to fail them as victims of police brutality.
The family is grateful for those who continue to organize and protest to change a system that remains unjust where “Black Lives” are concerned. They will not stop demanding justice for Messiah, Taniyah and all of the victims of police violence.”