Met Police officer who knelt on man's neck must 'reflect' on actions, says watchdog

29 July 2021, 17:37

Video footage showed a Metropolitan Police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man in Finsbury Park, north London
Video footage showed a Metropolitan Police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man in Finsbury Park, north London. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A Metropolitan Police officer filmed kneeling on the neck of a black man just weeks after the death of George Floyd in the US must "reflect" on his actions, a watchdog has said.

Footage of the officer kneeling on the neck of the 48-year-old man in Finsbury Park, north London, was captured on a mobile phone and shared widely on social media.

The incident on July 16 last year echoed the killing of Mr Floyd, who was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, sparking a wave of protests around the world.

One of the officers from the London incident was later questioned under criminal caution by an investigator from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) on suspicion of common assault.

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A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decided to take no further action - a decision that was upheld even when the 48-year-old man exercised his right to review.

But an IOPC investigation was opened into the decision to stop and search the man, the level of force used and whether he was treated differently because of his race.

The suspect was stopped following reports a white man had been beaten up by two black men on Isledon Road in the north London borough of Islington.

He was stopped because his clothing and description matched one of the suspects, and the officer attempted to handcuff him in order to search for weapons, the IOPC said.

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The IOPC concluded on Thursday that the officer had a misconduct case to answer as his use of force may have been unnecessary and excessive.

But it found that it would be appropriate to undertake reflective practice "to reflect and learn from the incident to prevent any issues identified from reoccurring" rather than face a more severe sanction.

The investigation also found the officer had a misconduct case to answer concerning "authority, respect and courtesy" for the way he spoke to the man and nearby members of the public.

It again said this could be dealt with by reflective practice.

The IOPC report said investigators had found no evidence the man had been treated differently because of his race and that he was stopped because he matched the description of someone suspected of assault.

It said there was no evidence the second officer breached professional standards of behaviour.

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IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "This was a thorough and detailed investigation of an incident that attracted considerable concern at the time because of a video going viral on social media.

"Stop and search is an intrusive and contentious police power which must always be used reasonably, proportionately and, where possible, should be intelligence-led."

He added: "Following our investigation, we now understand the whole picture and on this occasion we found that officers had initiated the stop and search appropriately, based on the information they had been provided with.

"However, one of the officers may have used more force than necessary and his communication with the suspect and members of the public nearby may have been inappropriate.

"In these circumstances the officer will now work with their supervisor to reflect, learn and improve from what occurred, to prevent this from happening again."