Met Police officers sacked after lying about smelling cannabis in stop-and-search of black athletes

Ricardo Dos Santos wanted the country to know that he and his partner "experienced racism" at the hands of the Met, and wishes the panel could see it, ITV News' Chloe Keedy reports

Two Metropolitan Police officers guilty of gross misconduct over a stop-and-search of black athletes Bianca Williams and partner Ricardo Dos Santos have been sacked without notice.

PC Jonathan Clapham and PC Sam Franks were found to have breached standards of honesty and integrity, but not eqaulity and diversity.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) ruled that PC Clapham and PC Franks lied about smelling cannabis during the encounter on July 4, 2020.

Olympic sprinter Mr Santos, 28, and Team GB athlete Ms Williams, 29, made a complaint to the police watchdog saying they were racially profiled during the incident involving a group of officers.

The police followed them as they drove to their west London home from training with their baby son, then three months old, in the back seat of their Mercedes.

Speaking after the judgement, Mr Santos said he believes "very little has changed in London policing since the Stephen Lawrence case", accusing the panel of not being "brave enough" to conclude the "Met Police is institutionally racist".

The Met Police today apologised and said the family deserved better.

Watch: The moment Bianca Williams is pulled out of car by Metropolitan Police

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.

Bodycam footage from the incident shows Mr Dos Santos screaming "what are you doing, my kid's in the car bro" as officers pin him against a wall.

Five officers – Acting Police Sergeant Rachel Simpson, PC Allan Casey, PC Jonathan Clapham, PC Michael Bond and PC Sam Franks – were accused of breaching police standards during the stop-and-search.

They all gave evidence over the course of the misconduct hearing in which they denied accusations of racism.

The panel heard they followed Mr Dos Santos in their police carrier because of the “appalling” and “suspicious” nature of his driving and were doing their duty when they conducted the stop-and-search.

PCs Casey, Franks, Clapham and Bond all said they smelled cannabis during the stop-and-search and denied suggestions that this was made up to justify their actions.

Mr Dos Santos accused officers of detaining him for 'DWB, driving while black'. Credit: PA

PC Franks admitted he had been “incorrect” when he said, as recorded on footage, that he could smell cannabis coming from the car.

However, on Wednesday, the panel found PC Clapham and PC Franks had lied about noticing the smell.

Chairwoman Chiew Yin Jones said their conduct had breached standards of professional behaviour in respect of honesty and integrity and thus amounted to gross misconduct.

The pair, who were dismissed at this afternoon's hearing, were not found to be in breach of equality and diversity standards.

The panel said they had been motivated by their desire to support the observation of a colleague that he could smell cannabis - leading them to become trapped in a lie.

PCs Casey and Bond and PS Simpson were found not to have breached any standards.

The IOPC’s case relied on wider documents and reports that indicated black people are “much more likely” to be stopped and searched in London more generally, and that black people are “routinely treated” with “more suspicion and hostility” by police officers and “stereotyped as criminal”. Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for “DWB, driving while black”. He told the panel while giving evidence that he had been “afraid” for the safety of his partner and his son.

When asked why he should be afraid of the police, the sprinter told of his “traumatic experiences” as a young black person who had been stopped by police on “multiple occasions” in the past.

The Met officers were part of a territorial support group unit who were tasked with helping to cut priority crime such as gang and knife offences.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) brought the case against the five officers and said that the detention of Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams was “because they were black” and was “excessive, unreasonable and unjustified”.

Mr Dos Santos said 'very little has changed in policing in London since the Stephen Lawrence case'. Credit: PA

After Wednesday's hearing, Mr Dos Santos said that "very little has changed in policing in London since the Stephen Lawrence case”.

He said: “We’ve supported the IOPC case over the past three years and it’s highlighted what most black people are far too aware of regardless of their background, education and employment.

"They are nine times more likely to be stopped by the Met and three times more likely to be handcuffed.

“The allegations made by the police officers that I was guilty of bad driving, threatening violence and drugs were dishonest.

"I believe these are false allegations and were based on racist stereotypes and show very little has changed in policing in London since the Stephen Lawrence case.

“If you can’t trust 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 review what the Casey report has already clearly stated, which is that the Met Police is institutionally racist.

“This case has taken a big toll on our family and on our careers but it’s crucial that those people who have a voice use it as those people who don’t suffer without being listened to.”

Ms Williams and Mr Santos Credit: PA

Mr Santos added: "What I experienced was racism and I wanted everybody to see that myself and Bianca experienced racism. But I guess today the panel voiced their opinion against it."

He later called the accusation made by police laughable saying: "I've never smoked in my life. I've never had alcohol in my life.

"For an officer to open a car door and then say the first thing that they can smell cannabis on me, it's very laughable."

He added: "The chair should have had the balls to actually to say what everybody thinks, not just brush it under the mat."

The Met Police's deputy assistant commissioner Matt Ward said: "We do recognise though that stop-and-search does cause considerable problems for some members of our community, particularly the black community.

"So we are continually trying to work out how we get it better, how we learn from incidents like this and others, and how do we give people the confidence in the Met, in our powers and in our use of stop-and-search, which is there to keep Londoners safe."

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