Five officers from London’s Metropolitan Police will face a gross misconduct hearing over the stop and search of two Black athletes, the force said Wednesday.
Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo Dos Santos, who are both professional sprinters, were stopped in west London on July 4, 2020, while traveling with their 3-month-old baby in a car. Both were handcuffed and searched, but nothing was found.
Williams, a sprint relay gold medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships, accused police of racial profiling and filed a complaint.
“I welcome this decision and hope this opens the door for the Met to start being more honest and reflective about the culture of racism which is undoubtedly still a reality within the organization,” Williams said in a statement released by the couple’s lawyers.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which handles complaints against police in England and Wales, said the five police officers involved in the stop will face a disciplinary panel that “will decide whether allegations that they breached professional standards are proven.”
The police force has apologized for the distress caused to the two athletes. It said the officers patrolling the area stopped and searched the car because they believed it was “being driven in a manner that raised suspicion.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “disturbed” by the incident and said it highlighted the need to overhaul the leadership of the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police department.
London Police Chief Cressida Dick quit in February after Khan publicly criticized her leadership following a string of allegations involving racist and misogynistic behavior within her department’s ranks.
Regional director Sal Naseem said: “All five officers – an acting police sergeant and four police constables – will face allegations they breached police standards of professional behavior for duties and responsibilities and for equality and diversity.
“Four of them also face allegations that they breached the standards for use of force and for authority, respect and courtesy.
“Three of the five – all police constables – will face allegations that they breached the standards for honesty and integrity and one will face an allegation they breached the police standards of professional behavior for orders and instructions.
“These matters were assessed as gross misconduct so it will be for the disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair to determine whether or not the allegations are proven.”
If gross misconduct is proven, the officers could face the sack.