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UK police officers face misconduct probe over stop of two Black athletes

by Reuters
Thursday, 8 October 2020 16:14 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - Gold Coast Commonwealth Games April 11, 2018. Bianca Williams of England. REUTERS/Paul Childs/File Photo

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British sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were stopped by UK police while driving to their home in west London

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The independent police watchdog said on Thursday it had notified five London officers that they are being investigated for misconduct over the treatment of two Black athletes pulled over in their car in July.

British sprinter Bianca Williams, 26, and her partner, Portuguese 400m record holder Ricardo dos Santos, 25, were stopped while driving from training back to their home in Maida Vale west London.

Williams, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was filmed distressed and handcuffed, with the couple's baby son in the car, and the incident led to accusations of racial profiling after the footage was widely shared on social media.

London's Metropolitan Police said an initial review indicated there were no actions by the officers which warranted disciplinary action, but later referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) because of the "significant public interest" in the case.

"After examination of a range of evidence, five Metropolitan Police officers have been advised they are subject to a misconduct investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct for their involvement in a stop and search in west London in July this year," the watchdog said.

"The five officers will be investigated for potential breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force; duties and responsibilities; and authority, respect and courtesy."

Both the IOPC and the Metropolitan Police said the investigation did not mean that misconduct proceedings would follow. The officers have not been suspended or put on restricted duties.

The incident occurred at a time when tens of thousands of people were demonstrating at Black Lives Matter protests in Britain following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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