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Black Olympic sprinter ‘afraid’ for family’s safety when police followed them

Ricardo Dos Santos said ‘traumatic’ experiences with police in the past had made him fearful.

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Bianca Williams

Sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos “feared” for the safety of his partner and Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, when police followed them minutes before searching and handcuffing them in the presence of their young son, a police misconduct hearing heard.

Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams, both international athletes, believe they were racially profiled during their July 4 2020 encounter with Metropolitan Police officers as they drove to their west London home from training with their then-three-month-old son in the back seat of their Mercedes.

Dashcam footage from the Met Police vehicle which followed Mr Dos Santos’ blacked-out car was shown at a disciplinary hearing in south-east London on Wednesday, where five officers could be sacked if gross misconduct is proven.

Mr Dos Santos said he was not trying to “evade” the police or driving dangerously, and that he was “just trying to get home” so that his son could reach safety, while taking questions from Nick Yeo, representing Pc Allan Casey, who was driving the police vehicle.

Mr Dos Santos, 28, who competed for Portugal in the 400m sprint at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,  told the hearing on Wednesday that the “traumatic” experience had affected his performance on the track.

He and Ms Williams, 29, a gold medallist in the 4x100m relays at the 2018 European and Commonwealth Games, were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons, after they pulled over outside their property.

Nothing was found.

Pc Casey, Acting Sergeant (A/PS) Rachel Simpson, Pc Jonathan Clapham, Pc Michael Bond and Pc Sam Franks deny all charges.

Mr Dos Santos, who often looked distressed throughout the hearing, told the panel: “I didn’t want anything to happen to my family and I wanted to get home.

“I realised that the police carrier was following me and I hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I was afraid for the safety of Bianca and my son.”

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

Police misconduct
Five Met Police officers deny charges of misconduct against them (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He added: “At that present moment my focus was the safety of Bianca and my son.

“I wanted to get home so they (the police) could see my other vehicles and know I wasn’t evading them.”

When shown body-worn footage which recorded him mocking and swearing at the officers, he accepted his behaviour, saying: “Everybody deals with trauma differently.

“I laugh, sometimes I shake. I’m shaking now. I can only speak for myself and my partner – it affected her so much she had to leave the media.

“She doesn’t do media appearances any more. It has affected my performance on the track. I shouldn’t be here.”

Mr Dos Santos said that his language was justified because the officers came up to his car and attempted to smash the window within seconds.

Ricardo Dos Santos
Ricardo Dos Santos (right) has competed in the Olympics (Tim Goode/PA)

At one point, addressing the officers who were in the room directly, he said: “Within a matter of seconds, you had a glass cutter and batons raised – if you come and try to smash the glass we can’t conversate.”

The five officers all face allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop-and-search.

A/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.

Ms Williams is expected to give evidence at the six-week hearing on Thursday.

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