Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms apologized Sunday for what she said was clearly excessive force used by Atlanta Police in the arrest of two young African Americans during the city’s curfew crackdown Saturday night after protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
The victims, 20-year-old Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim and 22-year-old Morehouse College student Messiah Young, were near downtown Atlanta when they were confronted by the group of police officers, AJC.com previously reported.
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Here are minute-by-minute updates from Howard’s press conference:
Noon: The press conference has ended.
11:56 a.m.: Mawuli Mel Davis, the attorney hired to represent Young, said he is "prayerful" that the charges will lead to a conviction in the case. He said the officers must be held accountable for the incident.
Both Pilgrim and Young expressed “satisfaction” and thankfulness that the officers were charged.
“I feel safer now that these monsters are off the street and no longer able to terrorize people,” Young said.
Young said there must be change within the culture of policing.
Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis (left) speaks on behalf of Taniyah Pilgrim (second from left) and Messiah Young (second from right) during a press conference by the Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Atlanta, Monday, June 2, 2020. District Attorney Paul Howard (right) announced criminal charges against six Atlanta police officers involved the arrest of Pilgrim and Young. Davis is representing Young.
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
11:51 a.m.: District Attorney Howard showed a video of the students' arrests.
11:47 a.m.: Howard said this is not the first time the district attorney's office has brought charges against an officer before an indictment. He said he will ask a judge to grant a $10,000 signature bond. Each officer is asked to surrender by June 5, Howard said.
11:42 a.m.: Howard announced that six officers will be charged in the case. Officers Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, both of whom were fired following the incident, are charged with aggravated assault, Howard said. Streeter faces an additional charge of pointing or aiming a gun at Messiah Young.
Howard has also charged Officer Lonnie Hood with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of simple battery; Officer Willie Sauls with aggravated assault and criminal damage to property; Officer E. Armond Jones with aggravated battery and pointing or aiming a gun; and Officer F. Ronald Claud with criminal damage to property.
11:41 a.m.: Howard said the students involved were "extremely innocent."
“My investigation concluded they were so innocent almost to the point of being naive,” Howard said.
11:36 a.m.: After spending a night in jail, Young was informed during a preliminary hearing that he was being charged with trying to obstruct the officers. Those charges were later dropped, seemingly at the instruction of Mayor Bottoms, Howard said.
11:34 a.m.: According to Howard, Taniyah Pilgrim was the owner of the car she and Young were inside at the time of the incident. Young, who was driving the vehicle, was trying to flag a classmate over to invite him into the car.
A police officer tackled the classmate to the ground, and another officer told Young to keep driving, “or go to jail,” Howard said.
11:29 a.m.: District Attorney Paul Howard said he agrees with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields.
“The conduct in this incident isn't indicative of the way we treat people in the city of Atlanta and it certainly isn't indicative of how we treat our children,” he said.
11:27 a.m.: The press conference is now underway.