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'Adding insult to injury' | Attorneys for college students tased by Atlanta Police say they're pursuing civil case

Attorneys for Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young said their civil rights were violated when officers used a Taser on them in 2020.

ATLANTA — Attorneys for two college students who were tased by Atlanta Police in 2020 said the young adults have been shocked again by the news to drop charges against the officers. Now their legal team is running "full steam ahead," with their civil lawsuit, attorneys announced on Tuesday.

A day after the Cherokee County district attorney's office announced it dropped the charges against six Atlanta police officers in the 2020 incident, legal teams for Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim said dismissing the affidavits will not end their pursuit for justice.

"We believe their civil rights were violated," Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis said.

The legal team filed a civil lawsuit in June 2021 on that claim, court documents show. Attorney Justin Miller said it's not about the monetary settlement, but about the message the case sends.

Attorneys for the students said the young adults were tased by Atlanta Police officers and yanked out of their vehicle on May 30, 2020, as the city was faced with protests downtown following the police killing of George Floyd. The legal team also pursued a criminal investigation that was dismissed Monday.

APD released body camera video of the incident, saying the confrontation with the students was due to a curfew violation.

RELATED: Charges dismissed | APD officers' use of force justified in 2020 incident involving Spelman, Morehouse students, Cherokee DA determines

Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel was tapped as the prosecutor of the case after Fulton County's district attorney recused herself. Patel's office announced Monday that prosecutors have wrapped up their review involving officers Ivory Streeter, Lonnie Hood, Mark Gardner, Ronald Claud, Willia Sauls and Armond Jones. Streeter and Garder were both let go from the department, and later Jones and Hood were fired as well. Claud and Sauls were put on desk duty. 

APD confirmed Tuesday that all but Jones remain with the force.

Watch the full press conference below.

RELATED: Atlanta college students tased, dragged from car during protests announce lawsuit against city

Attorneys for the college students delivered powerful words, saying the decision was "adding insult to injury."

"The level of violence that we all witnessed was based on a curfew violation. I don't want us to miss that," Davis said.

Pilgrim, a student at Spelman College during the incident is now 22 years old and Young, who was attending Morehouse College, is 24. Both spoke during the news conference Tuesday, calling the decision to drop the charges "disappointing."

"The entire situation did not need to escalate to the point that it did," Young said. "Every day is a trying moment. Every day I'm still reminded of the unfortunate situation that occurred that night."

In Young's legal battle, he was the one cited for breaking curfew, a citation that was eventually dropped, according to his attorney. He said in the two years it took for the special prosecutor to make his decision, he's had to live with the fear he felt on the night of May 30, 2020.

"This was something that was brought unto me. We never wanted to be in this situation," he said in front of the Fulton County Courthouse Tuesday. "I'm not going to let this define who I am as a person."

Young also vowed to do all that he can to make sure others don't have to face a similar situation.

Pilgrim also stepped up to the podium in front of the courthouse steps to express her disappointment and fire to create change.

"The same way I was scared almost the exact day two years ago, I'm still terrified now," she said. "Especially knowing that the people who caused so much trauma and harm to me and Messiah are able to walk free and go on about their lives."

She said though the officers can go back to work, she can't shake the trauma they caused her.

"This is our real life," she said. "We have to live with this every single day and it's very hard to navigate your life when you have something like this going on."

"This is very scary, this is very sad that we're still going through this two years later," she said. "Like Messiah said, we'll continue to use our voices to try to make sure things like this don't get swept under the rug."

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