Two Savannah Police officers were fired following an investigation into excessive force used during an April arrest — what the city's police chief called "totally unacceptable and egregious behavior on their part."

The firings of Cpl. Daniel Kang and Sgt. Octavio Arango were announced at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. The matter was referred to the district attorney's office for potential criminal charges.

"I was horrified," said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, describing his reaction after reviewing body camera footage of the incident.

Kang had been a member of the force for eight years; Arango had been on the force for 15 years, authorities said. The two allegedly used force to detain the wrong person during a search for a suspect wanted on domestic violence charges. 

Authorities did not provide specific details of what transpired during the incident due to the ongoing criminal probe.

But Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said the officers' actions "during this particular incident was totally unacceptable and egregious behavior on their part.”

“I do not believe that their behavior during this incident is in line with our core values of the department, which is to protect, serve and to build trust in the community," the chief said. 

He said he couldn’t go into further specifics but that he was confident that as more details are made public that “there will be a better understanding of why certain decisions were made.” From the material he reviewed, Minter said, suspending the officers was not strong enough.

“Based on my review of this matter," the chief said, "I believe that more, stronger discipline needed to be involved in this matter, especially when I looked at the totally unacceptable and egregious behavior in this particular situation.” 

Meg Heap, the district attorney for Chatham County, said the case will be presented before a grand jury for criminal consideration in September. 

Heap would not describe what happened during the incident, other than to say, "It was sufficiently concerning."

"If you look around this country, people are demanding justice," she said. "The best way I can assure justice is to put this case before a grand jury as quickly as possible."

She refused to release the body cam footage. “I cannot on an open case, ethically, give anything out," Heap said.

The Internal Affairs Division launched an investigation into the incident shortly after it happened, and a review of body camera footage found the officers had violated several department policies. 

A newly formed citizens task force reviewed the footage from the incident last week and recommended to the chief that the officers' actions warranted a referral to the prosecutor's office. The mayor formed the task force as a way to hold police accountable in the use of force and to better engage the community in reforming police.

“If you want to change culture, you have to do things differently," the mayor said. "It’s a message to the community that I meant what I said on that hot day at the end of May that it was going to be a new day in Savannah – that Black lives matter.”