ATLANTA — Two college students who were Tased by officers responding to protests in downtown Atlanta following the death of George Floyd last summer are now filing a lawsuit against city leaders.
Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim announced Thursday that they have filed a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and several of the officers involved in their assault.
Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at the news conference, where attorneys for Young and Pilgrim said they weren’t even part of the protests, but just got caught in traffic nearby when police confronted them.
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Gehlbach also talked to Young and Pilgrim, who said they hope the lawsuit will push the city to take action.
“This isn’t just about me -- this isn’t just about us -- this is an entire generation that has to deal with brutality or injustice and wrong-doing for nothing. Because of the color of their skin or simply because of what they prefer,” Young said.
The couple said they pulled out their phones to record what they were seeing and believe that is why they were targeted.
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A viral video showed officers using their Tasers and forcing the Morehouse and Spelman students out of their car.
Young suffered a fractured arm and had to get 20 stitches, according to his attorney.
Young and Pilgrim said that more than a year after the incident, they’re still haunted and have nightmares.
“Our lives are now at a standstill because of this when we should be able to move on,” Pilgrim said.
Two officers were fired and three were placed on desk duty. The Civil Service Board ruled in February that both fired officers should get their jobs back.
“There’s still been no accountability to the true victims of this occurrence,” attorney Harold Spence said. “If there was excessive force, then certainly the victims of that excessive force need to be treated fairly and justly.”
Attorneys say the suit could be in the courts for years because the city refuses to negotiate or try to settle with them.
“So for these kids, they’re in limbo,” attorney Justin Miller said. “They’re stuck and can’t move forward because we don’t know what’s happening.”
Miller also represented George Floyd’s family in Minnesota and said the way the two cities have responded is very different.
“The city hasn’t reached out to us and said, ‘Let’s talk about it. Let’s figure it out. Let’s work on it.’ The city of Minneapolis did those things and see the difference in how these two situations are playing out in these two different cities,” Miller said.
Young said that until the city responds, he’s going to have to keep reliving the incident.
“Until there are steps taken around the central problem, I am going to be reminded of this every single day of my life,” Young said. “So there just needs to be something done so that people don’t experience this ever again.”
A spokesperson for the city told Gehlbach they have yet to be served with the lawsuit and can’t comment on any pending litigation.
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