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Prosecutor rules six Atlanta officers were justified while arresting college students during the 2020 protests

The investigation looked into the night of May 30, 2020, when officers were filmed breaking windows of the students’ vehicle, yanking a woman out of the car and tasing a man. The students were identified as Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, who attended Morehouse and Spelman colleges, which are historically black schools.

The review found that Young and Pilgrim violated curfew that night and were approached by officers, according to the finding released Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“The evidence in this case shows that the involved officers’ use of force was the direct result of Mr. Young and Ms. Pilgrim’s resistance to and noncompliance with the officers’ instructions,” the release said.

Attorneys for the students said they were victims of an “unjustified level of violence.”

The students said at the time they were on their way home from picking up food when they got caught in traffic downtown. The arrest left Young with a broken wrist, about 20 stitches in his forearm and bruises all over his ribs, he told CNN in 2020.

The incident took place during nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Four of the six officers were ultimately terminated after the incident and two filed a lawsuit. Some of the charges against the officers included aggravated assault of Young, aggravated assault of Pilgrim, simple battery and criminal damage to property, according to then-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.

The termination of two of the officers was reversed in early 2021. An attorney for them said they look forward to returning to full duty. CNN could not determine the status of the other four officers on Monday.

The results of the review dismiss the arrest affidavits against the officers, the release said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to conduct an independent criminal investigation back in August 2021, the release said. The review was led by Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Samir Patel.

In reference to the widely circulated video of the incident, the release said it “was not an accurate portrayal of the entire encounter between Mr. Young, Ms. Pilgrim, and law enforcement.”

Atlanta Police officer charged in tasing of college students was named in prior excessive force lawsuit

Attorneys for the students said in a statement they were all “incredibly disappointed and disheartened by the decision.”

“The world witnessed the outrageous and unjustified level of violence perpetrated against these college students,” read the statement from L. Chris Stewart, Justin Miller and Mawuli Davis.

“How can a broken arm and 25 stitches be deemed the appropriate response for an alleged curfew violation? The fact that these students and their families had to wait in anguish and put their lives on hold for two years while this case was kicked around the legal system is equally outrageous,” the attorney’s statement read.

Vince Champion, Southeast region director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, told CNN, “We are glad for our people.”

“We always said wait until the investigation is completed,” Champion said. “Now that the investigation has been completed, we’re happy that the charges were dropped.”

CNN’s Aditi Sangal, Tina Burnside, Eric Levenson and Pamela Kirkland contributed to this report.

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