Two Met officers who stopped black athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos found guilty of gross misconduct

25 October 2023, 12:55 | Updated: 25 October 2023, 14:39

Two Metropolitan police officers involved in the stop and search of athletes Bianca Williams and
Ricardo dos Santos have been found guilty of gross misconduct
Two Metropolitan police officers involved in the stop and search of athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos have been found guilty of gross misconduct. Picture: Alamy/Met Police

By Asher McShane

Two Met police officers involved in the stop and search of black athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos have been found guilty of gross misconduct.

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PCs Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks were found to have been untruthful about the smell of cannabis at the time of the stop on July 4 2020.

The misconduct panel found PCs Clapham and Franks in breach of professional standards around honesty & integrity.

PCs Clapham and Franks, along with acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, and Pc Michael Bond all deny all accusations against them, including allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop and search.

Bianca Williams and her partner were pulled over in July 2020
Bianca Williams and her partner were pulled over in July 2020. Picture: Metropolitan Police

None of the five officers were found in breach of professional standards in relation to equality and diversity or the use of force.

Read more: Bodycam footage shows shocking moment Bianca Williams and partner handcuffed as officers accused of misconduct

Read more: Met cops who handcuffed and searched Bianca Williams face gross misconduct hearings

Police body camera footage of Bianca Williams stop-and-search

The panel judged they wouldn't have been able to see the colour skin of the driver in the split second they turned the corner in front of them.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Like many Londoners I was deeply concerned by the stop and search of Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos in July 2020 which is why we asked for this matter to be referred to the IOPC.

"The incident raised serious questions about the police use of stop and search and the use of force, particularly against Black Londoners, and it is right that the full circumstances of this incident have been heard and assessed independently.

“The findings of the disciplinary hearing will anger and alarm many Londoners, and just shows the scale of the challenge the new leadership team have to change the culture of the Met.

"It is vital lessons are learned from this incident and I will support and hold the Met and the Commissioner to account on delivering the urgent improvements needed so that every Londoner can feel protected and served.

“My Action Plan continues to work to improve trust and confidence in the Met and to address community concerns about disproportionality in the use of certain police powers affecting Black Londoners, including stop and search, so that we can build a safer and fairer London for all.”

Olympic sprinter Mr Dos Santos and his partner and Team GB athlete Ms Williams made a complaint to the police watchdog saying they were racially profiled during an encounter on July 4 2020 with the group of officers.

They were followed by police as they drove to their west London home from training with their baby son, then three months old, in the back seat of their Mercedes.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos arrive to hear the panel's decision today
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos arrive to hear the panel's decision today. Picture: Alamy

Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for “DWB, driving while black”.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) brought the case against the five officers and said that the detention of Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams was "because they were black" and was "excessive, unreasonable and unjustified".

Karon Monaghan KC, for the IOPC, told the panel at the start of the hearing that the watchdog's case will say there is "institutional discrimination" in the Met Police.

The IOPC's case relied on wider documents and reports that indicated black people are "much more likely" to be stopped and searched in London more generally, and that black people are "routinely treated" with "more suspicion and hostility" by police officers and "stereotyped as criminal".

Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for "DWB, driving while black".

He told the panel while giving evidence that he had been "afraid" for the safety of his partner and his son.

When asked why he should be afraid of the police, the sprinter told of his "traumatic experiences" as a young black person who had been stopped by police on "multiple occasions" in the past.

He said he believes he is stereotyped as a black man driving a "nice car" as someone who "must be engaged in criminality", the misconduct hearing was told.

The panel heard Mr Dos Santos was stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018.

When shown body-worn footage of him mocking and swearing at the officers, he accepted his behaviour, saying: "Everybody deals with trauma differently."

Ms Williams cried as she watched footage of Mr Dos Santos getting pulled from the driver's seat to the roadside and handcuffed.

She denied suggestions her partner could have acted differently to avoid police attention, insisting that "he can't change the colour of his skin".

All five officers gave evidence over the course of the misconduct hearing in which they denied accusations of racism.

The panel heard they followed Mr Dos Santos in their police carrier because of the "appalling" and "suspicious" nature of his driving and were doing their duty when they conducted the stop and search.

Ms Monaghan told the panel that these were "exaggerated" descriptions that did not "reflect the reality" of Mr Dos Santos not speeding around corners, indicating before all of his turns, not driving through red lights and not skidding on the road.

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