Atlanta officials fired two police officers and placed three on desk duty pending review over the use of excessive force as protestors took to the streets Saturday to express their anger over the death of George Floyd.
Sunday Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she saw a video, which she called “disturbing,” of five officers pulling two college students out of a car in downtown Atlanta. Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields made the announcement at a press conference after reviewing body-camera footage.
“We understand that our officers are working very long hours under an enormous amount of stress but we also understand that the use of excessive force is never acceptable,” Bottom said.
The video shows a group of police officers in riot gear and gas masks pulling a woman out of the passenger seat and a man from the driver’s seat. Neither appear to not be fighting the police. Officers tased the man and zip-tie handcuffs on the woman on the ground
Shields said it was “shocking” to watch the officers “manhandling” the students in their car.
“These folks are going out everyday, they are getting pelted with rocks, knives thrown at them, ongoing gun shots, it really is an unpleasant space to be in. But that does not relieve us of our responsibilities. And we have a responsibility, when we handle any incident, not to escalate the incident and not to cause further harm or injury,” Shields said.
Bottoms said the woman was released without charges. The man was also released, and Bottoms has ordered to drop the charges against him. She did not specify what charges he faced.
TV station WTTG reports the two students were in the downtown area for the second night of protests in the aftermath of the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man whodied after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes.
The two are students of the historically black colleges Spelman College and Morehouse College. Bottoms said she spoke with leaders from both colleges, and the student’s representatives.
Shields offered an apology and acknowledged that the officer’s behavior was unacceptable.
“Sometimes the best thing, the only thing you can do as a police chief is come in and clean up the mess that’s before you,” Shields said.
Local reporters who witnessed the incidentsaid police flattened the car’s tires and broke the glass on the car.
The protest in Atlanta is one of many nationwide that started peacefully before turning violent. In Brooklyn, two New York Police Department cars drove into a crowd of protesters who pushed a barricade against one of them and pelted it with objects. Police officers in Minneapolis sprayed demonstrators with chemical irritant during protests. In Detroit a 21-year-old was killed as a car drove by protestors and sprayed shots.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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