Two police officers have been reinstated following a show of excessive force where they used stun guns in an encounter with a pair of Atlanta college students during George Floyd protests last summer.
The Atlanta Civil Service Board ruled in favor of reinstating officers Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter on Monday and will allow them to receive compensation with back pay, Essence reports.
BREAKING: Charges are being filed against fired Atlanta Police Officers Ivory Streeter (left) and Mark Gardner (right) for tasing the college couple from Spelman and Morehouse. pic.twitter.com/HHkl507uyz
— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) June 2, 2020
Bodycam footage captured the two officers using tasers during an altercation on May 30 with 20-year-old Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgram and her boyfriend Messiah Young, a 22-year-old student at Morehouse College. The young couple participated in a Black Lives Matter protest when Atlanta police ordered them to exit their vehicle, according to Atlanta news station 11Alive.
Police said the students wouldn’t comply with orders to exit the car, so they forcefully removed them and tased Young. Officers at the scene alleged they were under the impression the students were armed, but no weapons were found at the scene.
Gardner and Streeter were fired almost immediately after the video surfaced by former police chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who expressed that use of the weapon given the situation was “clearly” an act of excessive force and in violation of department policy, according to 11Alive.
“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,” Bottoms said.
The former police chief apologized to the college students for the incident. “I am genuinely sorry. This is not what we are about,” she said.
Four other officers were put on desk duty and the district attorney’s office brought charges against all six officers associated with the incident, 11Alive reports.
Following the abrupt firing, the two officers filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in their fight against the city, requesting a court order to have the mayor and chief recind their firing, provide back pay and restore all other employment benefits like sick leave and compensation time.
“It’s devastating. The entire team, they’re family. And the rest of the officers and the city are walking around like they lost six of their brothers. It’s like a death,” Jason Segura, the chapter president of Georgia’s International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said in response to learning of Gardner and Streeter’s situation.
The city board agreed with the officers, finding that the terms of the officers’ dismissals “did not follow the personnel regulations of the Atlanta Code of Ordinances in the dismissal.” The Atlanta Police Department contended that the officers were supposed to have been given five days to respond to the allegations brought against them, but that process was not respected.
Both of the officers were fired one day after video of the harrowing encounter went viral on the web, according to Essence.
Despite the officers recent reinstatement, the criminal case against them was recently transferred to the office of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. Once a new prosecutor is appointed, they will evaluate whether or not the case will proceed.