Two British police officers have been fired after being found guilty of gross misconduct over the stop and search of two Black athletes in a case that had raised accusations of racial profiling.
Constables Johnathan Clapham and Sam Franks were dismissed at a misconduct hearing on Wednesday after being found to have lied about smelling cannabis during the stop. They were also found to be in breach of honesty standards.
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Allegations of breaches of police standards over equality and diversity were not proven against three other officers.
In July 2020, British sprinter Bianca Williams, 29, and her partner, Portuguese 400m runner Ricardo dos Santos, 28, were followed and pulled over by the police for allegedly suspicious driving in London’s Maida Vale.
Both athletes were handcuffed and their car searched for weapons and drugs after officers said they could smell cannabis. They were also separated from their three-month-old son, but nothing was found, and no arrests were made.
London’s Metropolitan Police said an initial review of the incident did not show that the five officers involved acted in a way that warranted disciplinary action.
Later, the force apologised to the couple for any distress caused and referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to high levels of public interest in the case.
The incident happened at a time of heightened racial tensions as thousands of people marched in Black Lives Matter protests worldwide following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
During the hearing, Dos Santos said he feared for his family and had been frequently stopped by the police.
The lawyer for the IOPC said the athlete believed the officers were racist and he had been stereotyped because he was a Black man driving an expensive car.
The case is the latest embarrassment for the Metropolitan Police after an independent review of the police force in March found it to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.
Speaking outside the court to Sky News, Dos Santos said: “If we can’t trust in the police to be honest and accept when they have done bad and stereotype Black people, what hope is there?
“I don’t believe that the panel has been brave enough to view what the Casey report has already clearly stated, which is that the Met Police is institutionally racist,” Dos Santos added.
Last month, official government figures found that Black individuals are four times more likely to be stopped while driving than someone who is white.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies