Met Police officer denies following athlete’s car because driver was black

A Metropolitan Police officer denied following a vehicle to perform a stop and search because the driver was black, a misconduct hearing has heard.

Olympic sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos, 28, and his partner and Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, 29, believe they were racially profiled during an encounter on July 4 2020 with five Metropolitan Police officers, who followed them as they drove to their west London home from training with their then-three-month-old son in the back seat of their Mercedes.

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

Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos
Ricardo Dos Santos and Bianca Williams believe they were racially profiled (James Manning/PA)

Questioned on the pursuit of Mr Dos Santos, Pc Clapham said there was no discussion in the police vehicle of him being a “young black male” when the decision was made to follow him.

According to his statement, the officer only saw Mr Dos Santos towards the end of the pursuit.

He accepted that black drivers may have a lack of trust in police, that they could feel threatened when being followed by officers and may therefore be defensive and evasive.

But he said he would treat any individual the same “regardless of the race or ethnicity”.

Various pieces of footage were played during the hearing showing the police pursuit of Mr Dos Santos’ Mercedes.

Pc Clapham agreed that the footage showed how the sprinter braked and indicated at almost every junction he turned into, but added: “That is not demonstrative of what his driving was like though.”

He said he saw “rapid acceleration” and “excessive braking”, “which would indicate that that driver is nervous when clearly alerted to the fact of a marked police vehicle being behind him”.

Ricardo Dos Santos
Ricardo Dos Santos (James Manning/PA)

Questioned on the search of Mr Dos Santos, Pc Clapham said he considers he and his colleagues behaved “leniently” with him and were “fully justified” in their actions.

He said he believed members of the public would have expected police officers to address “the suspicious, borderline dangerous, behaviour”.

The panel heard the officer had said in statements made after the incident that Mr Dos Santos demonstrated a “confrontational and volatile” attitude towards police, that it was “despicable” he could be seen as a “role model” and that the athlete’s behaviour was “absolutely vile”.

He stood by the assertions, the panel heard.

Asked to expand during re-examination on what Mr Dos Santos did that fell below the standards of a role model “of any colour”, the officer said: “He was repeatedly abusive towards police officers.

“Shouted loudly, swore loudly in public – obscenities.

“Drove in a manner like he did with a three-month-old baby in the back of his car…and had a total disregard for the law.”

Bianca Williams
Team GB athlete Bianca Williams (Lucy North/PA)

Acting PS Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, Pc Clapham, Pc Michael Bond and Pc Sam Franks deny all charges against them, which include allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop and search.

Acting PS Simpson and Pcs Clapham, Bond and Franks also face allegations that their actions amounted to a breach of professional behaviour standards in relation to the use of force.

They are said to have failed in relation to their levels of authority, respect and courtesy, as well as in their duties and responsibilities.

Pc Casey is also accused of breaching professional standards in the way he carried out his duties and responsibilities or gave orders and instructions.

It is also alleged that the honesty and integrity of Pcs Casey, Clapham, Bond and Franks breached professional behaviour standards.

The six-week hearing continues on Tuesday at 10am.

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