ATLANTA – A 20-year-old college student from San Antonio who was dragged from a car by Atlanta police when she and her boyfriend were caught in traffic caused by a protest over the death of George Floyd said she feared the officers would kill them.
“I still can’t even process what happened,” Taniyah Pilgrim said at a news conference Monday. “We felt like we were going to die in that car.”
Dramatic body-camera video released by police shows a group of officers shouting orders, smashing the driver’s side window, deploying stun guns and pulling Pilgrim and Messiah Young from the sedan. Throughout, the couple can be heard screaming and asking officers what is happening.
Young, 22, of Chicago, is a rising senior at Morehouse, where he’s studying business management. Pilgrim is a psychology major at Spelman College. Both schools are historically black colleges near downtown Atlanta.
“I thought [we] were going to die.” College students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young speak out after graphic video shows Atlanta police using stun guns and dragging them from their car during protest. https://t.co/nYkiImeO9R pic.twitter.com/JxzqGth72O— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 2, 2020
The two were out getting something to eat Saturday night when they got snarled in traffic along Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, their lawyers said. A friend of theirs, another Morehouse student, was standing in the street talking to them while they were stopped when police began to take him into custody, Young's lawyer Mawuli Davis said.
Young used his phone to film what was happening and that’s when officers turned on him, Davis said, adding he believes the officers’ motivation was to keep his client from capturing what was going on.
Young suffered a fractured arm and required 20 stitches. He said the arrest was “one of the hardest things that I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Six Atlanta police officers have been charged in connection with the incident.
“I’m so happy that they’re being held accountable for their actions ... It was just ridiculous and I’m happy that they’re being held accountable. All I can say is I hope that every police officer who thinks it’s OK to drag someone, beat someone, do all this stuff, just because they’re cops. I hope they’re all going to be held accountable," Pilgrim said.