A JustGiving page that was set up to help provide financial assistance to two former Met Police officers who were sacked after a gross misconduct panel decided that they could not smell cannabis from a stop and search that happened over three years ago has now passed £135,000.
Former PCs Jonathan Clapham and Sam Franks were on patrol in London in July 2020 when they stopped to let a Mercedes turn into a road. However, the Mercedes entered the road on the wrong side and then drove at an average speed of 32 MPH in a 20 MPH zone.
The vehicle was being driven by Ricardo dos Santos. In the car was a three-month-old baby and his partner, Bianca Williams. When the car finally did come to a stop, dos Santos and Williams were placed in cuffs as officers tried to understand why dos Santos had driven in the way witnessed by the officers.
Williams uploaded some partial footage from the stop to social media, which soon went viral. For three years, several media outlets reported the views of dos Santos and Williams, suggesting they were only stopped owing to their ethnicity.
The IOPC investigated the incident and directed that a misconduct hearing, chaired by a legally qualified professional, should occur. Also on the panel was a police officer and an independent person.
After six weeks, the panel concluded that dos Santos and Williams were not stopped owing to their ethnicity. Two professors specialising in the field of optics concluded that before the vehicle was stopped, the officers would not have been able to discern the skin colour of the driver.
The panel also took into account the behaviour of dos Santos before being stopped and immediately after he was stopped and concluded that the officers had not used excessive force during the encounter.
However, based on the balance of probability, the panel determined that Clapham and Franks were untruthful when they said that they could smell cannabis, something that their three other colleagues who were with them also said.
No cannabis was found on dos Santos or Williams, and despite the manner of dos Santos’ driving, including speeding and entering the minor road on the wrong side, the two were let go.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, the IOPC was called out by many in the policing profession, including by a police commentator, for continuing to reference the pair’s skin colour, despite the panel concluding that the duo were not stopped because of the colour of their skin.
Several media reports suggested that, even though the panel had found otherwise, the couple’s skin colour was pivotal concerning why they were stopped.
The Met decided that Clapham and Franks should be sacked, and they apologised to dos Santos and Williams for the stop without referencing how dos Santos drove before officers even attempted to stop him.
A JustGiving page was set up to support the officers and their families with the cost of living and their mortgage payments and to support the officer’s children during the cost-of-living crisis currently being experienced in the UK.
The initial target was £50,000, but thanks to overwhelming public support, the amount raised has now exceeded £135,000.
Some sections of the media asserted that the general public was ‘outraged’ at the fundraiser, and many invited former police officers onto their programmes to discuss the matter.
However, a quick look at the comments sections of such articles suggests that contrary to the claims by some media outlets regarding the public’s ‘outrage’, many people support the two officers.
Some journalists appeared to try and get the fundraiser pulled, but a spokesperson for JustGiving confirmed that, as the officers had committed no crime, the fundraiser would remain active.
An inside source from the Met informed Emergency Services News that senior management expressed strong displeasure over the fundraiser, viewing it as a challenge to the disciplinary process. It’s noteworthy that the funds are intended to assist the families of the officers during the period they seek alternative employment.
The JustGiving page can be found HERE
Before You Go…
Want a front-row seat to the most gripping stories from the heart of the emergency services? Join our exclusive WhatsApp Channel now and be the first to get real-time updates, videos, and tales from the frontline.
Join our WhatsApp community!
ESN is now on WhatsApp, and we want you to join our communities.
To join, you need to have WhatsApp on your device. All you need to do is click the link and press 'Join community'.
No one will be able to see who is signed up, and no one can send messages except the ESN team.
Joining our WhatsApp channel is a great way to help support our work and best of all, it is free!
If you don't like our community, you can check out any time you like. To leave our community, click on the name at the top of your screen and choose 'exit group'.