Video of Atlanta police officers pulling the students from a car and shocking them with Tasers has sparked national outrage and resulted in the termination of two of the cops. The others have been placed on desk duty.
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.
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.
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.
Asia Simone Burns is a watchdog reporter for the AJC. Burns was formerly an intern in AJC’s newsroom and now writes about crime. She is a graduate of Samford University and has previously reported for NPR and WABE, Atlanta’s NPR member station.