Romford, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via JOE ROBERTS/Metro
A police officer who was caught on camera launching a vicious attack on a handcuffed male teenager is currently under investigation, reported the British newspaper Metro yesterday.
Video footage from an eyewitness of the incident, which occurred on Easter Monday (22nd April 2019) show a uniformed officer grappling with a teenager, aged seventeen, on Heath Park Road, a main road in the Essex town of Romford, which lies just east of London. The officer and the boy move around in a tight space, the officer raising his truncheon threateningly towards the young man.
The male officer then strikes the youth in his left thigh with his police-issue cosh, causing the teenager to shout in pain, demanding to know why the policeman is beating a child. As the youth protests, the officer forces him to sit on the street pavement, still raising the truncheon above the boy’s person. The officer then restrains the boy by his handcuffed wrists as a crowd gathers. The boy then protests to passers-by “He’s slapping me with a stick!” and begs witnesses to dial the UK emergency services number, 999.
Shocked witnesses to the arrest reported the incident to police watchdogs, and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which regulates police forces in Britain has said it is opening an investigation into the assault and its circumstances.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police stopped and searched the boy and his friend on Monday after suspecting them of carrying drugs, under police powers granted by the Misuse of Drugs Act. A struggle between the youth and the officer ensued and the officer then struck the boy a number of times. The boy’s friend allegedly fled the scene and went home. According to police sources cited by Metro, the 17-year-old was found in possession of class B drugs and arrested for possession with intent to supply and obstruction of a drugs search. The other youth, aged fourteen, was also later arrested at his home address in Brentwood Road, also in Romford. Both teenagers were later released but are still under investigation themselves. The police have counter-claimed that the officer began striking the boy after he at first lashed out at the policeman.
The boy’s unnamed mother expressed anguish at the nature of her son’s apprehension. She was quoted as being appalled by the ‘violent arrest’ and said that her family were traumatised at the attack. She commented “We are enormously grateful for the huge amount of support we have received since the publication of the video.”
IOPC interim regional director for London Sal Naseem said: “We recognise that this incident has generated significant concern amongst the local community, as well as comment from police officers, concerning the officer’s decision to use his baton during the arrest.
‘The video circulating on social media only captures part of the arrest, so it is right we independently investigate to establish what happened during the entirety of the incident.”
The headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, which is responsible for policing in Romford and other areas of Greater London, and is also known as Scotland Yard, released a statement on the incident. They wrote: “We are aware of footage circulating on social media.
‘A full review into the circumstances surrounding the incident was carried out by the East Area Command Unit professional standards team, in liaison with the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards.
‘A public complaint was received, then referred to the IOPC, who have now launched an independent investigation.’
‘The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) continues to work with our communities and will listen and act with regards to community concerns; we remain committed to keeping Londoners safe.”
The footage of the assault has been circulated widely on social media, sparking debates on police brutality against young people, and a petition to suspend the policeman involved, drawn up by the BAME Lawyers for Justice group, has already attracted around 35,000 signatures. The group said: “We condemn the recent, aggressive and disproportionately violent arrest of two young black brothers.’
‘This arrest has caused huge outrage and concern amongst Londoners and many more concerned citizens throughout the country are appalled at what they’ve seen.”
The police in London have been accused over a period of decades of discriminating against young people in the area during arrests and ‘stop and searches’, particularly against male youths of black British, Afro-Caribbean and African heritage, and have tried to make amends in recent years in light of several incidents of brutality and wrongful arrest of youths and adults from non-white backgrounds.
A forty-second clip of the incident was released by Metro on its website, and can be viewed by clicking the article from the newspaper mentioned here in ‘Sources’ below.
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
“Police officer filmed beating boy in handcuffs will be investigated” – Joe Roberts, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (26 April 2019) https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/26/police-officer-filmed-beating-boy-handcuffs-will-investigated-9326537/?fbclid=IwAR0w1Dbt8wAm2_qwQulJFu3K16IQVZSniEupGgP_My0iqnFoQgDAOnsA2I0
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