ATLANTA, GA – Once again, in the name of pandering, we have an example of police officers being denied the right to a fair and impartial trial, also known as due process.
Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, the two Atlanta Police Officers who were fired after using their tasers on two college students, are fighting back. They’re suing Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for their jobs back.
The lawsuit states:
“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal.”
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
The officers were effecting a traffic stop after a 9pm curfew at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Andrew Young International Boulevard. Spelman College student Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, and former Morehouse College student Messiah Young, 22, were near downtown Atlanta and stopped their vehicle in the middle of the street.
One of the officers yelled several times for the driver, Young, to stop the car. Streeter allegedly smashed the driver’s side window and tased Young, and Gardner tased the passenger who allegedly refused to get out of the car.
Of course, there is very little being put out in the mainstream media as to why the officers elected to tase the poor, innocent students. And the information that is out there is being buried.
The vehicle was being signaled to stop…because there was another officer standing in the road a short way down from them. The driver didn’t comply, so officers surrounded his vehicle.
While ordering both occupants out of the car, both refused to comply. The driver reached his hands towards his pocket.
Mayor Bottoms was condemning the officers for the incident before an investigation even started. In a press conference, she said:
“[The video was] deeply disturbing on many levels. There was clearly an excessive use of force.”
After reviewing the body cam footage, Mayor Bottoms and Chief Shields ordered Officers Streeter and Gardner to be fired.
The next day, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced criminal charges against the two officers for aggravated assault, as well as four others who were reportedly on scene and involved. The possible charges for those officers have not yet been announced. They remain on desk duty.
In a memo to her officers, Chief Shields said that she fired Officers Streeter and Gardner because she “didn’t have an option,” but she never thought criminal charges would have been brought against any of the officers. She said it was a “political move” by DA Howard.
Shields also said:
“We created chaos and we escalated a low-level encounter into a space where we introduced violence. Once this occurs, we need to own it.
“The officers were fired because I felt that is what had to occur. This does not mean for a moment that I will sit quietly by and watch our employees get swept up in the tsunami of political jockeying during an election year.
“Now that the charges have been announced, I’m very concerned with the space we find ourselves in, both tactically and emotionally. Multiple agencies that were assisting us in managing this incredibly volatile time have pulled out, effective immediately. They are not comfortable with their employees being leveraged politically by the potential of also facing criminal charges.”
Five nearby agencies that were offering assistance to the city during riots have pulled out and elected to no longer assist.
DA Howard said he was “perplexed” by the accusation by Shields regarding political motivation. He said in a statement last Wednesday:
“The Chief, after assessing the excessiveness of the officers’ conduct, decided to fire two of the officers involved. After reviewing the police officers’ bodycam videos, she literally fired these officers on the spot.
“I am perplexed that when the Atlanta Chief of Police makes a decision within her authority her actions are legitimate, but when I, as the Fulton County District Attorney, make a decision to act under the law to ensure justice based on clear evidence available, these actions are deemed to be ‘political’ all of a sudden.”
For context, the charges against the officers occurred a week before the Democratic primary, where he faced two strong candidates. There were already two investigations open against Howard as he seeks his seventh term.
Both officers were serving in Atlanta PD’s Fugitive Unit as investigators. Streeter had been with the department since December 2003, and Gardner had been with them since August 1997.
The lawsuit claims that other officers “engaged in substantially similar conduct” and were not dismissed. The officers are seeking to be reinstated and to receive back pay and benefits.
Former Atlanta police officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, who were fired for their part in the excessive force used against two Spelman and Morehouse College students live on-air, filed suit against the APD to get their jobs back.https://t.co/REAGgupX3O
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) June 9, 2020
The attorney representing the officers is Lance LoRusso, who stated:
“Both were fired before they could be interviewed by the Office of Professional Standards in direct violation of the policies and procedures of the Atlanta Police Department as well as the law. Any charges brought by a District Attorney without a full investigation should raise concerns.”
As a guest on a podcast, Mayor Bottoms said:
“So my police officers just got a very real lesson in what our expectations and what our level of tolerance will be in the city of Atlanta. If the force was excessive, they’ve got to be fired. Period.
“And I think those are the type changes and expectations that we’ve got to give to our police officers and the expectation we’ve got to give to our community because nobody has patience with waiting.”
One may argue to the mayor that, yes, waiting is difficult when one is seeking justice. Much like victims and families of victims all over the nation must wait for suspects who committed crimes against them to wait for trials to play out.
However, those trials are necessary to ensure that proper justice is done. To make sure the accused have a fair and impartial trial. To make sure they’re allowed their Constitutional right to due process.
Unless, of course, you’re a police officer.
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