A Black caretaker on the way back from buying toilet roll for his workplace was stopped by police who told him he wasn’t “dressed for the climate” as he had a coat on during a sunny day. Eric Taylor, 20, who works at a football centre and owns a small business selling drinks and sandwiches, believes that he was detained by the officers because “he is Black”.
The South Norwood resident posted a video on social media of the stop and search by police on Wednesday, March 23 at 4.47pm, as he walked along a side road off Dagnall Park, in Selhurst, Croydon. A Met Police spokesperson said officers were patrolling the area, which is well-known for drug dealing, and that Eric stood out for “wearing several layers of clothing despite the warm weather”.
However, Eric says there were white children walking past wearing jackets while he was being searched but that the officers did not stop them. He told MyLondon: “There were kids wearing coats walking past me…but it’s because I’m Black, that’s why [the police] do that. There were a lot of kids walking by with jackets on and they were white, they were not Black.”
READ MORE: Police stop and search Croydon man wearing a coat on sunny day and say he’s ‘not dressed for the climate’
(Image: Eric Taylor)
The Met Police spokesperson added: “Officers approached him to establish his reasons for being in the area. He became hostile and refused to account for what he was doing. He was detained for the purposes of a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Nothing was found and the man went on his way.”
Before being stopped, Eric says he had arrived at the football centre where he works to start his shift but when he realised toilet paper hadn’t been delivered, he went to the shop to buy some. On the way back, he says that police pulled and approached him questioning the way he was dressed.
Eric said: “They came straight to me and I couldn’t move left or right. I was in a circle with them. So they said, ‘why are you wearing this jacket in this hot sun?’ That was the first question that came out of their mouth. When they said that I thought that’s a police trying to make me feel little. The sun just came out on a day that I was wearing a jacket. The sun is out but it’s still cold out here.”
The 20-year-old says that the police had no reason to suspect him as he questioned their use of police powers. He said: “For them to say that and use that kind of term that we’re searching you under Section 23 [Misuse of Drugs Act 1971], I’ve read Section 23. I can choose for you not to search me, unless you’ve got something to show I’m a suspect.
“But there was nothing to suggest that I was a suspect, I’m just going about my day to day business. I’m holding a toilet roll in my hands. I’m not smoking or doing anything that will make the police think I’m a threat to the public. I was not doing any of that.”
The caretaker claims that local residents came out of their homes questioning why the police had detained him as they proceeded to conduct a search. He said: “The neighbours said, ‘why are you doing this? It’s not fair. Is it because he’s Black?’ They said, ‘look at this guy wearing a jacket, you’re not stopping them.’
Eric says he has been stopped by police before and that he was handcuffed in an armed raid after a person made a false claim about him. He went on to add that people who saw him being confronted near his shop would not have known if he was a “criminal” and that the police were “destroying” what he was trying to achieve.
He added: “I’ve been arrested in front of my own customers, they don’t know if I’m a criminal or a bad person. The place where I work, I managed to build a cafeteria and a shop where I manage to sell patties, sandwiches and everything. There’s the Brit School there and students come to my premises and buy food from my shop. It’s called Carter’s Refreshment bar. The shop is adjoined to the sports arena where I work and the students come and buy from me.
“There’s been an incident where my shop got raided. Armed police raided my shop and put me in handcuffs. They didn’t do nothing about it. Ever since then my sales dropped. [Being detained] started agitating me even more like, ‘you guys are destroying everything I’m trying to change my life for’. They could have handled the situation in a different way.”
Eric was released and nothing was found. He reported the encounter after the Metropolitan police contacted him via Instagram. Speaking to MyLondon Detective Chief Superintendent Lee Hill, Violent Crime Taskforce said: “We are aware of footage circulating on social media; this shows only a small part of this incident and we would ask people not to rush to judgement.
“In this instance a formal complaint has been received and is being handled in accordance with the Police Reform Act. This will include a review of all the available footage, including the officer’s body-worn video. Our officers have to conduct themselves in the most challenging of circumstances and it is right their actions should be subject to public scrutiny.”
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