LONDON – Five officers of the London Metropolitan Police will face the consideration of gross misconduct in connection with the stop and search of two black athletes, said on Wednesday.
Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos, both professional sprinters, were stopped in west London on July 4, 2020, while they were driving with their 3-month-old baby in a car. Both were handcuffed, weapons and drugs were searched, but nothing was found.
Williams, a gold medalist in the sprint relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 European Championships, accused police of racial profiling and filed a complaint.
“I welcome this decision and hope it opens the door for the Met to start more honestly and reflect on the culture of racism, which is undoubtedly still a reality in the organization,” Williams said in a statement issued by the couple’s lawyers.
The Independent Police Conduct Office, which handles complaints to police in England and Wales, said five police officers involved in the incident with a stop will face a disciplinary board that will “decide whether allegations of professional misconduct have been proven”.
Police apologized for the suffering caused to the two athletes. It says officers patrolling the area stopped and searched the car because they believed it was “driven in a way that aroused suspicion.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “concerned” about the incident and said he stressed the need to reconsider the leadership of the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police department.
London Police Chief Cressida Dick resigned in February after Khan publicly criticized her leadership following a series of accusations of racist and misogynistic behavior within her department.
“This case is another example of why it is very important that the next commissioner has a more effective plan to address serious cultural issues in the police and restore the confidence of Londoners,” Khan said on Tuesday.
Police acknowledged that her tactics had a “disproportionate impact on some communities” and said they had recently updated their policy on the use of handcuffs before arrest to provide a clear framework of where appropriate.