A college student dragged from a car by Atlanta police when she and her boyfriend were caught in traffic during a protest over the death of George Floyd says she feared the officers would kill them.
"I still can't even process what happened," Taniyah Pilgrim said at a news conference on 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.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Sunday after reviewing body camera footage that she and Police Chief Erika Shields decided to immediately fire two of the officers involved and place three others on desk duty pending investigation.
"Use of excessive force is never acceptable," Bottoms told reporters. Shields called the footage "really shocking to watch."
Police identified the fired officers as Investigator Ivory Streeter, hired in 2003, and Investigator Mark Gardner, hired in 1997.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said his office was "moving rapidly to reach an appropriate charging decision."
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."
The 22-year-old from Chicago is studying business management and Pilgrim, 20, from San Antonio, Texas, is a psychology major. Both are at black colleges near downtown Atlanta.
The two were out on Saturday night when they got snarled in traffic and were talking to a friend when police started taking 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.
Police on Sunday released video from police body cameras showing Young pulling his car door shut and saying "I'm not dying today" before officers use a stun gun on Pilgrim and pull her from the car.
Officers then break the driver's side window with batons and slash the tyres, lawyers said.
An officer uses a stun gun on Young and he is also pulled from the car as officers shout "he got a gun, he got a gun".
Davis said Young has never been arrested and there was no gun or drugs in the car.
"There is no justification, none whatsoever, for what they did to them," Davis said.
Bottoms said Pilgrim was released without charges, Young was released too and she's ordering charges against him dropped. A police report said he was charged with attempting to elude police and driving with a suspended licence.
Australian Associated Press