Met stopped Bianca Williams and family ‘because they’re black’, tribunal hears | Police

“Aggressive and confrontational” Metropolitan police officers stopped a car in which the British athlete Bianca Williams was travelling with her partner and baby, lied that they could smell cannabis and detained them “because they’re black”, a tribunal has heard.

Five members of the Met’s territorial support group are accused of gross misconduct over the 4 July 2020 stop of Williams and the Portuguese sprinter Ricardo dos Santos, in Maida Vale, north-west London.

Acting Sgt Rachel Simpson, PC Allan Casey, PC Jonathan Clapham, PC Michael Bond and PC Sam Franks deny all the charges.

Williams and dos Santos were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of possessing drugs and weapons.

At the opening of the tribunal in central London, Karon Monaghan KC, representing the director general of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: “It is alleged that the officers treated Mr dos Santos and Miss Williams in this way because they’re black.

“The director general will say that the detention of Mr dos Santos and Miss Williams for 45 minutes, on the road, in full view of their neighbours was because they were black …

“The director general will say that not only did the officers lie about smelling cannabis, they did so because Mr dos Santos was black.”

The tribunal heard that Simpson, despite leaning into the car, did not smell cannabis. Nevertheless, she detained Williams while awaiting a police dog even though she had told the athlete that she could “see now” that she was not in a gang.

Monaghan said: “It was obvious that she [Williams] was with her partner and son rather than all being members of a gang.”

The tribunal heard it was inconceivable that dos Santos would have used or been around people who had used cannabis given that he and Williams were returning from training and that he was driving his baby.

Monaghan said that dos Santos had told the IOPC that he had previously been stopped several times while driving by officers “thinking he must be a drug dealer or have access to illegal finance”. She said this history, as well as the stress of the situation, explained why dos Santos was swearing while being detained. “The officers’ actions were aggressive and confrontational and they had no reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr dos Santos was in possession of an offensive weapon,” she said.

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Monaghan told the tribunal: “Mr dos Santos will say that as he was driving on Great Western Road, he made eye contact with PC Casey and sensed at that moment that the police carrier was going to follow him.”

Casey had no recollection of making eye contact and the officers maintain that they did not realise the driver – dos Santos – was black until after the car was stopped, the tribunal heard.

But Monaghan said: “The fact that the driver was black caused him [Casey] to think there was something suspicious, in a way that he would not have thought if the driver had been white.”

She said the IOPC would also rely on evidence of institutional racism in the case, which is expected to last six weeks. The Met police apologised to Williams days after the stop for distress caused by the incident.

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