The mother of a 12-year-old boy is taking legal action against the Met Police after they raided the family’s home and arrested him for playing with a toy gun.
Armed officers and sniffer dogs stormed the home of Kai Agyepong in Camden, north London, on the evening of July 17 after a member of the public claimed to have seen a black male holding a firearm.
In reality, it was a BB pellet gun that had been fitted with a blue slider to distinguish it from the real thing.
Kai’s mother Alice criticised the police, saying her family felt “utterly violated” by the incident and is now suing the force for racial discrimination, trespass, false imprisonment, assault and battery.
Lawyer Iain Gould, representing the family, said the “robotic, thoughtless handcuffing of people following arrest/ during searches, is an endemic problem amongst the police nationwide”.
He also referenced data from between 2018 and 2019 which showed black people were six times more likely to be handcuffed then white people.
In a blog post he wrote: “Such is the dispassionate, almost robotic, tone of a Metropolitan Police statement made in response to a shocking incident last Friday night involving my client Alice Mina Agyepong and her young family; but sometimes ‘dispassionate’ can shade into ‘disingenuous’, for what that carefully crafted statement fails to make clear is that the “male” who was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm, was in fact Mina’s 12-year-old son Kai… who had been doing nothing more than playing with his toy gun in the living room of his house.
“The disingenuous and defensive nature of the police statement is further reflected in the choice of words used to later describe Kai – “the youth” and (inaccurately) “the teenager” – words which obviously tend to convey an impression that Kai was far older than 12, perhaps a young adult rather than, as he is, a child.”
He said the family were awoken in “terrifying circumstances” and the Year 7 pupil was kept handcuffed in a police van while his house was subject to a “gross and disproportionate invasion”.
He said: “During this time, Kai, a Year 7 pupil at Maria Fidelis Catholic School was kept handcuffed in a police vehicle before being eventually “de-arrested” when the Police established that they had terrorized the family for no purpose other than to arrest a child for playing with a toy in his own home.
“Major questions will need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police as to how this everyday event escalated into an armed raid, during which deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon Mina and her children.
“Even as it stands, with the physical force being ‘confined’ to the handcuffing of a 12-year-old boy, the emotional and psychological impact cannot be underestimated.
“For a family to have the safety and sanctity of their home violated in such a way, is literally the stuff of nightmares.And not least amongst the questions to be answered will be to what degree the Police response to the report they received was escalated because of the colour of Kai’s skin. Given the knowledge we already have in relation to disproportionate uses of force and Police powers generally upon black people, this is a very real concern.”
Speaking about the raid, Ms Agyepong, who also has two daughters living at home aged 16 and 23, said: “In my mind there was no question they were going to shoot us.
“Their guns were drawn in such a way they were aiming their rifles at me and my kids.”
She said the Met had thrown “every single resource except a helicopter” at the incident, adding that in addition to the armed officers and dog unit, there were two vans of ordinary PCs and an ambulance.
Even after being shown the BB gun, officers still conducted a full search of the premises lasting more than an hour.
Ms Agyepong said her son had “undoubtedly” been racially profiled.
Commander Kyle Gordon, the Met’s lead for firearms, said: “There have been a number of well-publicised shootings in London in recent months where members of the public have been injured.
“As the public would rightly expect, we take every report of a firearm seriously in order to protect our communities.
“Officers attending reports such as this must treat them as genuine until they can verify whether or not an actual firearm is present.
“Based on the information at hand, the officers acted in line with their training and my expectations, enabling the incident to be concluded as quickly and safely as possible.”
Commander Gordon said he had watched the body-worn video of the incident and said he was “content” with the officers’ professionalism and how they had explained to residents what was going on.
“The reporting member of the public was right to call us and we would encourage others who see similar weapons to do the same,” he said.
“We are committed to bearing down on violence and we rely on our communities to help us do this.”
He added that Kai had been immediately dearrested as soon as officers had established the only weapon in the house was the BB gun.
The Met has referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC).