Internal APD Chief's Memo: Politics to blame for Paul Howard's decision to charge APD officers

IBPO's regional director Vince Champion was upset when he heard some police departments decided not to back up APD during last night's protests. 

The controversy within law enforcement stemming from District Attorney Paul Howard deciding to criminally charge six APD officer involved in an arrest of two African American college students.

"We bowed down to the protesters," says Champion.

The controversial arrest by APD took place Saturday night near Centennial Olympic Park. A FOX 5 camera was there when two African American college students, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, were ordered out of their car, tazed, and then dragged, screaming out into the street.

The next day, APD chief Ericka Shields and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reviewed the body camera videos and fired two of the officers involved. Three other officers were put on desk duty while the city investigated.

Then in a surprising move, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard charged six officers involved in the incident. with various assault or battery charges.

Paul Howard's decision about what took place during the altercation on this street corner sent shock waves through the law enforcement community. And lead to emotional and powerful memo from Chief Ericka Shields to her command staff.

The I-Team obtained the memo in which Chief Shields told her staff late Tuesday night that "Multiple agencies that were assisting us in managing the incredibly volatile time have pulled out, effective immediately."

As the Tuesday night curfew was a mere an hour away, Chief Shields wrote to her staff she "strongly expressed her concern about the charges to Paul Howard."  And then told her staff, she will not sit by and "watch our employees get swept up in the tsunami of political jockeying during an election year."

Vince Champion also saw politics at play in the DA's office. Howard is up for reelection in next week's primary election.

"Years we had officers sitting on the desk that were involved in shootings and it took two to three years to get anything," said Champion referring to Howard's criminal charges filed within 48 hours of the incident.

Howard told me his decision was not political and he was confused and surprised by the chief's memo. He said it was Chief Shields who described to him the excessive conduct by the officers. "If it is not political to fire the officers, then why is it political to charge them," said Howard.