(CNN) — Six Atlanta police officers were booked, five on felony charges, after allegations of using excessive force during a protest Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.
In a video recording of the incident, the officers are seen breaking windows of a vehicle, pulling a woman out of the car and tasing a man.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields expressed concern about the charges in an internal memo and indicated she hadn’t expected them.
Criminal charges “were never part of any discussion that I had with the Mayor or her administration,” Shields wrote in the memo provided to CNN by the department. Shields said she found out about them from “a fellow employee.”
“I called the DA and strongly expressed my concern, both to the appropriateness and the timing of any charges,” Shields wrote.
“The officers were fired because I felt that is what had to occur,” Shields wrote. “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.”
The regional director of the police union expressed concern about how quickly the officers were fired and charged.
“We definitely believe they’re premature charges,” said Vince Champion, Southeast Regional Director, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, in a statement to CNN.
“We are asking the same thing that we ask, that everybody asks, for citizens,” Champion said. “They have their time to have investigations. They were given no due process.”
The charges against the officers announced Tuesday by District Attorney Paul Howard include aggravated assault of Messiah Young, aggravated assault of Taniyah Pilgrim, simple battery and criminal damage to property.
Two of the six officers, Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner, were fired Sunday by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“As we watch the video today, it became abundantly clear immediately with the young woman that this force was excessive,” Bottoms said Sunday. “It also became abundantly clear that the officer who tased the young man needed to be terminated as well.”
In a police report, one of the officers said that he used his taser because he was unsure whether Pilgrim or Young were armed.
“I heard officers say gun two-three times,” the officer wrote. “Not being able to see the hands of the passenger and being that she was in my immediate sight I deployed my city issued taser to defuse the situation.”
All six have been released on signature bonds, according to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
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