An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation has concluded that a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer has no case to answer over his use of force on a male who was stopped and searched in London after making off from officers on a bike.
The IOPC’s investigation followed a complaint by a bystander who filmed only part of the incident in Hackney, east London, on 22nd April 2020.
The mainstream media then published the 25-second clip of the incident.
It showed an officer carrying out a knee strike to the man’s head after officers had taken him to the ground as the officer tried to put him in handcuffs. Prior to the knee strike, the suspect had been resisting the officers.
Officers in an unmarked car had activated their blue lights and siren and then caught up with the man in Mulberry Road after he and two others made off on bicycles when approached in an area known for violent gang-related knife crime.
The IOPC said that its nine-month investigation began in June 2020 following an MPS referral of a complaint by a woman who witnessed the incident and recorded only some of what happened on her mobile phone.
The male who was resisting the police did not make any complaint.
The bystander complained about the police use of force and that the line manager of the officers involved had made ‘racially stereotypical assumptions’ when she later contacted the force to report her concerns.
The IOPC said that its enquiries concluded there was insufficient evidence upon which a misconduct panel could conclude that the officer had breached professional standards for his use of force when he delivered the knee strike.
The officer said he targeted the shoulder area of the suspect, but made contact with the man’s face while he was resisting.
Investigators could not establish from the partial footage alone whether the man had been resisting during the incident, and they were unable to contact the male and obtain an account from him directly.
A spokesperson for the IOPC added:
‘In our view, the officers had reasonable grounds to approach the group from the briefing they had received beforehand, and to believe they might be in possession of weapons and drugs when they made off.
‘We considered if racial bias played any part in the officers’ actions but could not conclude that the group, or the man detained, had been targeted on that basis.
‘There was no evidence that their ethnicity was noticed by the officers, who said it was dark and that the group were wearing hoodies’.
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