Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021
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The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating five officers over their interaction with Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos in Maida Vale on 4 July, and whether they were “treated less favorably because of their race”.

The watchdog revealed that after the incident, the Metropolitan Police put their three-month old son on a database that stores information on children known to the police.

Ms. Williams, 26, accused officers of racial profiling and suggested she and her partner were pulled over for a weapons search because they were black and driving a Mercedes.

The incident focused renewed attention on the use of stop and search powers in Britain amid Black Lives Matter over the summer.

Ms. Williams, a Team GB sprinter, and Portuguese 400m record holder Mr. Dos Santos, 25, were dragged from the car and handcuffed in footage that was shared widely on social media. No illicit items were found.

Days after the incident, the Metropolitan Police commissioner said two reviews by the force’s directorate of professional standards had found no misconduct by its officers.

Dame Cressida denied that footage of the evidence “reveals racism” and said the vehicle was stopped because of the way it was being driven, after apologizing to Ms. Williams.

On Thursday, the IOPC announced that it was investigating five officers over potential breaches of police standards including on the use of force, authority, respect and courtesy.

The watchdog is probing “whether Ms. Williams and Mr. Dos Santos were treated less favorably because of their race”, the accuracy of the accounts provided by the officers and if statements made by the Metropolitan Police during the investigation were appropriate.

The IOPC is assessing “the manner of some of the officers’ initial approach to Mr. Dos Santos” and the decision to handcuff him and keep him restrained after a search.

Investigators are looking at why Ms. Williams was grabbed before police sought her co-operation with the search, handcuffed and kept restrained after the search.

They are also probing why the vehicle was followed and stopped, if the search was “reasonable and objective” and whether the force used was “lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate”.

The IOPC said the couple’s baby son, who was in the back of the car at the time, was added to Scotland Yard’s Merlin database for children known to the police and questioned whether there were “legitimate grounds”.

Regional director Sal Naseem said: “We have taken the decision that this meets the threshold for a misconduct investigation, the allegations will now be investigated thoroughly and independently.”

Scotland Yard confirmed that nothing was found in the search and no arrests were made.

It said its Directorate of Professional Standards had reviewed all available footage and found “no indication any of the officers’ actions would amount to a breach of police standards of professional behavior serious enough to justify disciplinary proceedings”.

The Metropolitan Police said it referred itself to the IOPC after Ms. Williams’ complained of their treatment on social media.

A spokesperson said that in an initial response to the IOPC, the force said: “If proven, the failings would only amount to minor breaches of the standards of professional behavior or performance-related issues.”

The Metropolitan Police said it would cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation but had not suspended any of the officers involved or put them on restricted duties.

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