Atlanta, GA – Two former Atlanta police officers who were fired after video of them pulling college students out of a car during a curfew enforcement during the George Floyd riots have filed suit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the now-former police chief.
The incident occurred on May 30 and was captured on bodycam video that showed multiple Atlanta police officers pulling a driver and his passenger out of car after the car initially fled from police, FOX News reported.
The mayor and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields announced the termination of Atlanta Police Investigators Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter on May 31.
On June 2, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard charged Gardner and Streeter with aggravated assault, and filed charges against four other Atlanta police officers who had been involved in the incident, FOX News reported.
Streeter is also facing charges for pointing a gun at the driver of the car.
Chief Shields initially suspended the other four officers pending investigation, according to FOX News.
The police chief has since resigned amid the fallout from the fatal officer-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks Friday night.
On June 10, the police department announced the termination of two more of the officers in connection with the May 30 incident, WSB reported.
Officials confirmed that Atlanta Police Officers Lonnie Hood and Armond Jones had also been terminated.
Hood, a 29-year veteran of the department who discharged his Taser multiple times during the incident, is charged with aggravated assault (assault with a deadly weapon) on the driver and aggravated assault and simple battery on the passenger, WSB reported.
Jones, who has been on the police force for two years, was charged with aggravated battery and pointing or aiming a gun at the driver.
“This is happening so fast. No due process and, our opinion, this all appears to be political on both sides from the mayor to the district attorney,” International Brotherhood of Police Officers Southeast Regional Director Vince Champion told WSB. “It tears down moral and it also lets them know that three of the top officials who should have law enforcement’s back do not. And they’re going to sacrifice men and women in law enforcement for their political gains, their own personal gains or whatever the reasoning is.”
Gardner and Streeter filed a lawsuit in Fulton County State Court on Monday that names the Atlanta mayor and the now-former police chief as defendants, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The lawsuit claimed the former investigators’ use-of-force was lawful and alleged that the officers were fired with a proper investigation.
“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal,” the lawsuit read.
Gardner and Street are seeking reinstatement to the police department, back pay, and benefits, FOX News reported.
The suit alleged the officers were denied due process and were fired in violation of the city code which required an investigation, notice, and a pre-disciplinary hearing.
“Way too quick they had no due process,” Champion told WGCL. “Knee-jerk-reaction that the mayor and the chief made for their own political reasons.”
“This video was really shocking to watch in how we were manhandling a couple of young people in their car,” Chief Shields said when Gardner and Streeter were fired, the Associated Press reported.
“I really wanted to believe that the body-worn camera footage would provide some larger view that could better rationalize why we got to this space,” the chief said. “And having spent most of the afternoon with the mayor, reviewing the footage exhaustively, I knew that I had only one option, and that is to terminate the employees.”