Two Georgia college students who were violently tased and pulled from their vehicle by Atlanta police during a George Floyd protest said they are glad the six officers involved have been arrested and are being held accountable, calling the developments a “small step in the right direction.”
On Saturday, Teniyah Pilgrim, 20, and Messiah Young, 22, who both attend an Historically Black Colleges and Universities, were heading to get something to eat when they were dragged out of their car during a protest and then tased by two police officers in a moment captured on police body camera footage.
Since then, those officers and four others have been charged with crimes that range from aggravated assault to battery and property damage.
Pilgrim said the cops treated them like “animals.” In body cam footage, Pilgrim can be seen screaming in fear as Young, her boyfriend, tried to help pull the taser wires off her body.
“It was so confusing and fast,” Pilgrim said. “We couldn't we even process what was happening.”
Young was injured during the encounter and had to spend the night in jail, while Pilgrim was held in a police van for hours. Young suffered a fractured wrist and cut that required 20 stitches.
“I was in shock. I had no idea the injuries were so severe,” he said. “I was terrified for my life. We didn’t do anything, we had [our] basic human rights taken.”
Pilgrim said she was released without an apology or explanation. Young was initially charged with fleeing the scene and driving with an expired license, but the charges he faced were dropped at the mayor's behest.
The couple believes they were targeted because they were taking cell phone footage of the protest.
"It was a vicious act," Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said at a news conference Tuesday.
The officers who have been charged— Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Armond Jones and Roland Claud— have until June 5 to turn themselves in. They will have a $10,000 bond.
Streeter and Gardner were both fired on Sunday as well.