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2 more Atlanta cops fired over pulling college students from car at George Floyd protest

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Two additional Atlanta police officers were fired Wednesday over a dramatic incident involving two college students who were yanked from a car stuck in traffic during a large protest against racial inequality and police brutality, according to CBS Atlanta affiliate WGCL-TV. Two other officers were previously relieved of duty less than 24 hours after the May 30 encounter.

WGCL-TV identified the newly fired officers as Sergeant Lonnie Hood and officer Armon Jones. The four fired officers and two others still on the force all face criminal charges stemming from the encounter.

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.

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

Hood, Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter are charged with aggravated assault for using their Tasers on the students. Hood is also charged with simple battery for violently pulling Pilgrim from the car and throwing her to the ground, according to The Associated Press. Jones is charged with aggravated battery for hurting Young's left arm when he dragged him from the car and slammed him on the street; in addition, he is charged with pointing a gun at Young, according to a warrant.

Attorneys for Young and Pilgrim praised Wednesday's decision to fire more officers.

"These college students were simply sitting in their car, stuck in traffic when they were pulled from their car, beaten and tased for no reason," they said. "It is encouraging that Mayor Lance-Bottoms is making every effort to right a wrong that was obvious to all when watching the officers' body cameras. We can't continue to allow members of law enforcement to recklessly abuse the citizens they are sworn to protect."

On Monday, Streeter and Gardner filed a lawsuit against the city's mayor and police chief, alleging that they were let go without a proper investigation.

The suit claims they have "suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal." It goes on to say 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 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."

All of the charged officers are black, except for one, according to AP. The Atlanta Police Department said its sworn personnel is about 61% black, according to 2019 data.

Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.

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