Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on Sunday, May 31, that two Atlanta police officers were fired after using "excessive force" on two college students while making an arrest during a protest on Saturday, May 30.
Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter, officers with the Atlanta Police Department since 1997 and 2003 respectively, were terminated from the police force after footage of them violently confronting a black woman and man went viral.
Backlash on Social Media
Several Atlanta police officers were filmed breaking the windows of a vehicle with two occupants inside before violently removing the woman from the car and tasing the man on Saturday amid protests in the area. The young man and woman were later identified as Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim respectively, both students of historically black colleges in Atlanta.
Cell phone footage of the incident immediately started circulating on Twitter, amassing nearly 12 million views and hundreds of comments from social media users.
While some users expressed their anger over the police's "unlawful and unjust" use of force, others accused the officers of targeted the students because they were black and the white woman traveling in the vehicle in front of them was "untouched."
The pilgrim was detained but released at the scene without any charges while Young was taken to a local hospital and released on Sunday. Although Young was initially charged with fleeing the scene and driving with an expired license, the charges were later dropped.
Disciplinary Action Against Officers Involved
"As we watch the video today, it became abundantly clear immediately with the young woman that this force was excessive," Bottoms said at Sunday's press conference. "It also became abundantly clear that the officer who tased the young man needed to be terminated as well."
While Gardner and Streeter have been fired, the other three officers involved in the incident have been assigned desk duty, as pointed out by the mayor.
"After review of that footage, Chief Shields and I have made the determination that two of the officers involved in the incident last night will be terminated immediately," the mayor added. "The other three officers are, right now, on desk duty pending further determination of what, if any, appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against them."
The incident is the latest in a series of clashes between civilians and law enforcement amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man who died on May 26, after a Minneapolis officer knelt over his neck for several minutes while detaining him.