Fired police officers sue Atlanta mayor, police chief

Ivory Streeter (left) and Mike Gardner, both veteran Atlanta police officers, were recently fired. (Photos: APD)

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Ivory Streeter (left) and Mike Gardner, both veteran Atlanta police officers, were recently fired. (Photos: APD)

The two Atlanta police officers fired after using their Tasers during recent protests want their jobs back, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner say their use of force was lawful, and they were fired without a proper investigation, the lawsuit states. The suit, naming Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, was filed in Fulton County State Court.

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“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal,” the suit states.

Neither APD nor Bottoms immediately responded to a request for comment late Monday.

On May 30, Streeter and Gardner were working when they attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle after the 9 p.m. curfew. Body camera video showed an officer trying to remove the driver from the vehicle, which is stopped in the middle of the street. The incident occurred at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Boulevard.

Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, and Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, were near downtown Atlanta when they were confronted by the group of police officers. The pair later said they felt as though they were going to die.

The following day, Bottoms announced the officers had been fired. Then on June 2, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced criminal charges against Streeter, Gardner and four other officers involved.

Shields called the officers’ arrests a political move by Howard in a memo to her staff.

“We created chaos and we escalated a low-level encounter into a space where we introduced violence,” Shields wrote. “Once this occurs, we need to own it.”

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In addition to losing their salaries, Streeter and Gardner say their state peace officer certification is in jeopardy, the lawsuit states.

In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, defense attorney Lance LoRusso echoed the thoughts of Shields, saying Howard’s motives were political in quickly charging the officers. LoRusso also criticized Howard for building a case around the officers’ use of a Taser.

“It would turn American law enforcement on its ear if we’re going to label a Taser as a deadly weapon,” he said.

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