State Watch

These cities removed police officers over excessive force in George Floyd protests

A handful of police departments across the U.S. have taken action against police officers for actions against protesters.

Videos and other media have captured several instances of police violently clashing with protesters who have been demonstrating against the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died during a Minneapolis police arrest May 25.

Here are the places that have fired, suspended or are investigating officers for their conduct.


Six Atlanta police officers have been fired and five face charges of excessive force against a man and woman. Body camera footage shows the two college students being hit with tasers by officers before being pulled out of their car.

Taniyah Pilgrim and her boyfriend, Messiah Young, were stuck in traffic after going to buy some food amid the protests that took place last weekend. Young told ABC News that he saw a friend of his on the street, so he stopped to check in with him. The cops then tackled his friend and swarmed the car, ordering the man and woman to get out of the vehicle before forcefully opening the door.

The video then shows them using a taser. The couple can be heard screaming and asking what is happening as they are being shocked and wrestled out of the car.

Young, who was reportedly charged with eluding police, suffered a fractured arm among other injuries during the encounter. Pilgrim was not charged. Both have said they feared for their lives during the confrontation.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shield said they both decided after watching the footage to fire two of the officers involved, while putting three others on desk duty pending an investigation.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office later booked six of the officers and charged five of them on felony counts for use of excessive force — a move privately opposed by Shield, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN.


Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground at a demonstration. They were later charged with second-degree assault.

Footage shows the man walking toward the officers, while other police officers in riot gear can be heard yelling, “push him.” After being shoved, the man stumbled back and fell to the ground.

He can be seen lying on the ground, motionless, as a pool of blood begins to form near his head. One bystander in the video can be heard saying he is “bleeding out of his ear,” while calling for help.

The police department first claimed the man tripped and fell, but the video tells a different story.

The man was in stable but serious condition shortly after the incident, according to city leaders.

Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County official, described the unidentified man as “alert and oriented,” citing a medical official.

Other state and local leaders also voiced support for the suspensions, expressing concern about the video.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted Thursday that he found the incident “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful” and said he agrees with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) that the “officers involved should be immediately suspended pending a formal investigation.”

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A police officer in Fort Lauderdale has been relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave after a viral video showed him knocking over a protester who was kneeling with her hands up.

The shaky footage showed the officer turning to walk away from a crowd of demonstrators before shoving the protester who was kneeling behind him.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said the officer will remain on leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office and the department’s internal affairs office.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said “appropriate action” will be taken based on the findings in the investigation.

“That officer has been relieved from duty. … He is basically going to remain home until the investigation is complete,” Maglione said at a press conference Monday, one day after the incident.

“What occurred yesterday is not reflective of what we were trying to achieve yesterday,” Maglione added. “We were trying to provide a completely safe environment for folks to be heard. And for most of the day, absent two minutes, that is what occurred.”

New York City

Two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers were suspended without pay for misconduct during protests.

In one incident, footage showed an officer pushing a woman to the ground during a May 29 protest. Protesters can be heard yelling to “get his badge number.” The officer has been suspended without pay. Additionally, the supervisor at the scene has resigned and will be transferred.

The second officer was suspended after a video showed him pulling down a protester’s mask and pepper spraying him.

City officials say the cases have been referred to the department advocate for further disciplinary action.



Multiple police departments say they have opened investigations into the conduct of officers for questionable actions during protests over the past two weeks.

In addition to the recent suspensions, NYPD has opened investigations after protesters and journalists recorded several instances of officers appearing to use excessive force.

Videos have captured incidents of two NYPD cruisers driving into a crowd of protesters, officers using batons to move demonstrators down the street, and an officer pulling down the mask of a protester and spraying him, even though he had his hands up.

“For there to be calm, there also must be contrition, so I am sorry,” NYPD Commissioner Dermont Shea said at a press conference Thursday. “But sometimes even the best fall down. … So for our part in the damage to civility, for our part in racial bias, in excessive force, unacceptable behavior, unacceptable language, and many other mistakes, I am sorry.”

“I have said where officers have acted unprofessional, we will deal with that. I will deal with that,” he added.

The investigations in New York and elsewhere are shining a spotlight on police tactics, the use of force, racial bias and criminal justice following Floyd’s death. Law enforcement experts, however, note that officers usually avoid punishment since the investigations are often conducted by fellow officers or other members of the law enforcement community.

There is also the Supreme Court’s established “quality immunity” doctrine that puts the burden on prosecutors to prove that police officers clearly violated the law or the Constitution.

In the midst of the nationwide protests, federal, state and local lawmakers have vowed to begin working to reform the police through legislation, training, community outreach and more.

Updated on June 8 at 1:53 p.m.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Atlanta Buffalo demonstrations excessive force Florida Ft. Lauderdale George Floyd Georgia Minnesota New York New York City police misconduct Protests

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