An internal police investigation has been launched after officers carried out a search of car in the Elephant and Castle earlier this month, writes Kit Heren…
Police are alleged to have broken a young black man’s phone and car door handle, threatened to use a taser on him and didn’t keep to social distancing rules, possibly infecting him with coronavirus, while searching his vehicle for drugs as he drove home from visiting his vulnerable father, with his brother and sister.
Fidel, a legal advisor and solicitor from Kent who declined to provide his last name, said he believes he was targeted because of his skin colour and added that the officer involved was “excessively forceful”.
Police told Fidel to pull over near Elephant & Castle in south London on the evening of May 2, telling him he was speeding. After a heated argument in which Fidel said he asked police to provide a reason for the search, he claims one of the officers drew a taser.
Fidel said the officer “failed to act in good faith and was unnecessarily aggressive from the offset.
“He was excessively forceful… there was clearly no immediate harm or threat of violence to him or any of the surrounding officers,” he added. “He could not explain why he deployed a taser on me.”
The officer is then alleged to have damaged the car window and broke the door lock while forcing it open. Fidel claims he also damaged the phone that he was using to film the incident.
Throughout the incident the officer allegedly failed to stick to social distancing rules, and Fidel says he has now developed coronavirus symptoms and is in self-isolation.
Police found no drugs in the car.
Fidel said: “This incident has caused us emotional trauma and distress and a complete loss of faith in the Met Police. Police are meant to be seen as public symbols of trust and safety, but me nor my family felt at all safe. We still do not actually know why we were stopped. We are a law-abiding family who were only travelling to see our poorly father…
“None of us were a threat in any way but were treated like criminals.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which investigates complaints against the police, has said it is looking into the incident.
A Met Police spokesperson said: “The local borough Professional Standards team are aware of a complaint in relation to the search of a vehicle near to Elephant and Castle on Saturday, 2 May. The vehicle was stopped after it was spotted being driven erratically and a search of the car followed.
“Officers are continually reminded about the importance of social distancing while carrying out their duties. An investigation is currently ongoing into this matter.”
An IOPC spokesperson said: “At our request, the MPS has confirmed the incident will now be referred to the IOPC. Once received we will assess the information provided to determine whether an investigation is required and the level, if any, of our involvement.“