Two college students said they were traumatized after police used tasers and dragged them from a vehicle at a protest on Saturday night.
The six Atlanta police officers are being charged with using excessive force, according to officials.
The officers were filmed in downtown Atlanta breaking windows of a vehicle, yanking a woman out of the car and tasing a man. The two victims were later identified as college students at Spelman and Morehouse, both historically black schools, and were returning from protests calling for an end to police violence against black citizens.
Taniyah Pilgrim, the Spelman College student, said she thought she might be killed in that moment. “I was thinking, OK, this is the end,” she said.
Morehouse College student Messiah Young told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he has not yet watched the video of the incident. “I’m not trying to relive that moment at this point. It's a little too much right now, and I’d rather, you know, just recover, honestly,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the hardest moments that I've had to face in my life. I just can't even fathom what happened. At this point, I'm just so far gone, it's like I'm trying to remove myself from that situation, but it’s really hard to cope with,” Young said, growing emotional.
Young’s wrist was broken, he got 20 stitches in his forearm and he said he felt lingering effects of being tasered.
Pilgrim said the effects on her are “traumatizing.”
“I haven't even processed the situation and everything that happened. … I don't want this to continue to happen and have more victims who are traumatized that can't sleep, can't eat. I don't want that for anyone else. This is disgusting. This isn't right,” Pilgrim said.
“Once they approached the car, they literally swarmed the car. I just was shellshocked. I've seen the situation so many times, you know. We have George Floyd, we have so many people dying and it's just senseless. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, all these people are dying every day, and people are out protesting for this reason. It's still happening at these protests. We see this literally daily. And it's just not OK,” Young added.
One of the officers wrote in a police report that he used his taser because he was unsure whether Pilgrim or Young were armed.
“As we've seen in the past, [there was an] attempt to assassinate the character of these young people to say there was a gun. There was never a gun,” said Young’s attorney Mawuli Davis. “… The culture in policing in America and in Atlanta must change and it must change immediately, or innocent people risk literally losing their lives.”
Young said the incident really underscores the need for policing reform.
“Change is really all that needs to come from this. There needs to be a total reset in policing,” he said. “…There needs to be a sense of trust and safeness and security dealing with law enforcement. We just need to see a total shift in the way things are done because at this point we're going to continue having these protests. We're going to continue losing black lives, brown lives.”