Ex-cops charged with assault sue Atlanta's mayor and police chief

Peter Martinez

Editor's note: Two additional officers have been fired from the Atlanta Police Department. Read the latest update here.

Two former Atlanta police officers are suing the city's mayor and police chief after they were fired for tasing two college students leaving a protest last month. The former officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, filed a lawsuit Monday saying they were let go without a proper investigation.

The suit claims Street and Gardner have "suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal."

The May 30 incident unfolded live on CBS affiliate WGCL-TV. The officers used a stun gun on driver Messiah Young, 22, and passenger Teniyah Pilgrim, 20. 

Video shows an officer tell Young, who was driving, to keep moving but then the officer opens the door and tries to pull Young out of the car. Young manages to drive off but is stopped down the road by traffic. Officers then swarm the car. One officer opens the passenger-side door as another attempts to break the driver-side window. 

The officer on the passenger side then uses his Taser on Pilgrim, who could be heard screaming throughout the encounter. Young can also be seen being tased before officers pull him from the car. Young also said he was punched at least 10 times while he was being subdued on the pavement.

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Atlanta police officers seen using stun guns on Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young. Young and Pilgrim were leaving a George Floyd protest at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday, May 30 when they were assaulted by several police officers. Two officers were fired for their role in the incident. CBS News

Six officers were charged in the incident. Both Gardner and Streeter were charged with aggravated assault.

However, the lawsuit claims the officers "were involved in a use of force incident that arose within the scope and course of their duties." They also allege they "have rights to procedural due process prior to and following and following any disciplinary action pursuant to the charter, ordinances, and policies of the City of Atlanta."

The police union in Atlanta claims there was a failure of due process.

"Way too quick they had no due process," Vince Champion, southeast director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told WGCL-TV. "Knee-jerk-reaction that the mayor and the chief made for their own political reasons."

Paul Howard, the Fulton County district attorney, said this was the third time the DA's office has brought charges against police officers before they were indicted. He also noted that Young and Pilgrim were "extremely innocent." 

Read the lawsuit filed by Streeter and Gardner below:

Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.

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