Remember when Metropolitan Police officers dragged UK sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner out of their car and away from their three-month-old child on false claims that they could smell cannabis?
Nearly two years after the incident, five officers involved will face gross misconduct charges that could lead to them being sacked. Another officer will face a charge of misconduct.
It is understood that a disciplinary panel will also consider whether racial discrimination played any part in the actions of some of the officers, who deny wrongdoing and insist they will contest the charges.
This Site reported on the incident when it happened.
Ms Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped at 1.20pm on July 4, 2020 in Maida Vale, north-west London, by officers from the Met’s Territorial Support Group. He was driving and she was in the back with their child.
Reports of a police statement at the time claimed,
The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.
The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.
It was also alleged that the officers justified their search by claiming they could smell cannabis.
Both athletes are trained by the former Olympic champion Linford Christie, who accused police of institutional racism, and they also said they believed racism played a part in the incident.
In a statement, Christie asked,
“Can Cressida Dick [then Met Police Commissioner, who spoke in support of her officers’ behaviour] or anyone please explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over?
“Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?
“This is not the first time this has happened (second time in two months) and I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any long #BLM #MetPoliceRacist.”
A few days later, the Met referred the incident to the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which has taken two years to deliver its findings.
This Writer’s personal opinion is that I would want access to every piece of evidence used in the case, when the disciplinary panel comes to hear it, because I simply don’t trust the institutions involved to make a correct decision without public supervision.
I have grave doubts about the reasons the Met gave to justify chasing, stopping and searching these athletes’ car, and there is also the matter of the distress caused to them as they were separated from their very young child.
The IOPC’s recommendation is a step in the right direction. But will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back?
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