ATLANTA - Two Atlanta police officers who were captured on video forcibly pulling a pair of college students out of their car and placing them under arrest during protests Saturday night, May 30 have been fired, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Sunday, May 31.
The two students were in downtown Atlanta during during the second night of protests in the city over the death of George Floyd. In the incident, the two students were pulled from the car, stunned and arrested. FOX 5 learned one of the students is enrolled at Spelman College and the other is enrolled at Morehouse College. Both were released from police custody Sunday.
Addressing the events from that night, the mayor called the video "disturbing."
"There clearly was an excessive use of force. 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 during a news conference Sunday evening.
Five officers were involved in the incident. The three remaining officers have been assigned to desk duty pending an investigation, the mayor said. Mayor Bottoms said police body camera video from the incident would be released to the media.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields specifically addressed the incident with the two college students, stating that her officers had a responsibility not to escalate any incident.
"These folks are going out everyday, they are getting pelted with rocks, knives thrown at them, ongoing gun shots, it really is an unpleasent space to be in. But that does not relieve us of our repsonsibilities. 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.
The mayor extended a 9 p.m. curfew for the city of Atlanta through Sunday night. Bottoms had previously signed an order establishing a curfew for the city through Saturday night, which ended at sunrise on Sunday. The mayor called the curfew a “very unusual and extreme step.”
MARTA announced it would be suspending all rail, bus, and paratransit services at 9 p.m. Sunday as a result of the curfew.
Saturday night's protests began peacefully, but slowly escalated as demonstrators went home and rioters remained behind. City officials had alreayd stated there would be a zero-tolerance policy in regards to violence after the peaceful protests.
During the violence, an APD officer was struck by someone riding an ATV. The officer was take to Grady Memorial hospital and was being treated in the ICU. Chief Shields said they are hoping he will have the ability to walk again.
The governor authorized up to 3,000 members of the National Guard to assist in controlling protests in cities across the state.
As of Sunday, Atlanta police had arrested more than 150 people related to the protests.
The demonstrations are in response to the death of George Floyd, who was kllled while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who worked for the Minneapolis Police Department, is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Floyd died after the 44-year-old Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.