Pair trained by Olympic champion consider legal action over incident in west London
Two black athletes trained by former Olympic champion Linford Christie who were stopped and handcuffed by police officers while with their three-month-old son are considering legal action, the Guardian understands.
Video of the incident in Maida Vale, west London, on Saturday, posted by Christie on Twitter, showed officers telling the occupants of the vehicle, Ricardo dos Santos and Bianca Williams, they were going to be searched, while the obviously distressed Williams said repeatedly: “My son is in the car.”
In another tweet, Christie, the most successful British and European sprinter, said officers stopped the athletes outside their home and assaulted the male driver.
He called on the Met chief, Cressida Dick, “or anyone else” to justify the officers’ conduct. “Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation and finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test?” he wrote.
“This is not the the first time this has happened (second time in two months). And I’m sure it won’t be the last, but this type of abuse of power and institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any longer.”
On Sunday, the Met police said there were no misconduct issues in relation to the way the stop and search was carried out. But the Guardian understands that the couple are considering legal action.
The incident was the latest in a series of videos posted on social media for which officers have been accused of discriminatory use of their powers or force amid the Black Lives Matter protests.
In some instances, forces have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct after pressure. However, having reviewed the social media footage and video from bodyworn cameras of Saturday’s incident, the Met said its officers had acted properly.
The stop took place at about 1.25pm and was executed by the Territorial Support Group, which was patrolling the area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.
The Met said the vehicle had blacked-out windows and was “driving suspiciously”, including being on the wrong side of the road. It said when officers indicated for it to stop, the car sped off. Officers caught up with the vehicle when it stopped on Lanhill Road, but the driver initially refused to get out of the car, the Met said.
The occupants, a 25-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were detained for the purposes of a search under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the statement continued. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.
Helen Harper, the commander for central west basic command unit, said: “I understand the concern when incidents like this happen and how they can appear when part of it is filmed without context.
“Due to the concern raised, we conducted a review of the stop. This included social media footage and bodyworn camera footage of the officers at the scene. We are satisfied that there are no misconduct issues.
“The officers were deployed to a high-violence area of London and the manner of the driving raised suspicion. It is only right that they act on it. We are open to discussing the incident with the individuals involved if they wish to do so.”