An internal Atlanta Police Department memo reveals multiple nearby police agencies will no longer let their officers provide support for Atlanta officers as they deal with protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
In the memo, Chief Erika Shields said the move came as a result of the four Atlanta Police officers charged over the incident involving college students Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgram being tased and pulled from their car. The memo said agencies don’t want to risk their officers potentially being charged for criminal offenses for their possible actions.
“Now that the charges have been announced, I’m very concerned with the space we find ourselves in, both tactically and emotionally,” Chief Shields wrote. “Multiple agencies that were assisting us in managing this incredibly volatile time have pulled out, effective immediately. They are not comfortable with their employees being leveraged politically by the potential of also facing criminal charges.”
The specific agencies that have pulled their support were not named in the memo. CBS46 is working to obtain that information.
The catalyst for Shields’ memo were the charges filed against current and former officers announced Tuesday. Two of those charged were former APD officers Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner. Both were terminated for violating the department’s excessive force policy for their role in the use of a stun gun and other force against Pilgram and Young. Both face charges along with current officers Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Armond Jones, and Roland Claud.Chief Shields mentioned in the memo about calling the DA to protest the charges, which she said were not discussed with her ahead of time.
“Criminal charges were never part of any discussion that I had with the Mayor or her administration,” Shields wrote. “The criminal piece was brought to my attention yesterday through a fellow employee. Upon receiving the information, I called the DA and strongly expressed my concern, both to the appropriateness and the timing of any charges.”
2020 is an election year, which Chief Shields mentioned in the memo as potentially part of the reason charges were filed.
“This does not mean for a moment that I will sit quietly by and watch our employees get swept up in the tsunami of political jockeying during an election year,” Shields wrote.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office released the following statement to CBS46:
“The decision to prosecute or not prosecute is the District Attorney’s alone.
The Mayor has the authority to fire or not fire, as you saw her take such action Sunday. The City continues to investigate the facts of the matter and take action as needed, and within our authority.
The Mayor believes there is a broader point to be made, in that we must create levels of trust between public safety officials and the communities they are sworn to protect.”