guardian.co.uk wrote:Police face racism scandal after black man records abuse
Crown Prosecution Service reviews decision not to charge officers heard boasting of strangling 21-year-old black manSpoiler:Scotland Yard is facing a racism scandal after a black man used his mobile phone to record police officers subjecting him to a tirade of abuse in which he was told: "The problem with you is you will always be a nigger".
The recording, obtained by the Guardian, was made by the 21-year-old after he was stopped in his car, arrested and placed in a police van the day after last summer's riots.
The man, from Beckton, east London, said he was made to feel "like an animal" by police. He has also accused one officer of kneeling on his chest and strangling him.
In the recording, a police officer can be heard admitting he strangled the man because he was "a cunt". Moments later, another officer – identified by investigators as PC Alex MacFarlane – subjects the man to a succession of racist insults and adds: "You'll always have black skin. Don't hide behind your colour."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis that three officers, including MacFarlane, may have committed criminal offences.
The CPS initially decided no charges should be brought against any of the police officers. However on Thursday, the service said it would review the file after lawyers for the man threatened to challenge the decision in a high court judicial review. MacFarlane has been suspended.
The inquiry began after the victim handed his mobile phone to a custody desk in Forest Gate police station and told officers he had been abused.
Earlier, he had been driving through Beckton with a friend when he was stopped by a van containing eight police officers from Newham borough. London's streets were flooded with police who had been drafted in to contain the rioting.
The officers arrested the man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and told him he was being taken to a police station to be searched. After being taken into the van, the man was also arrested for missing a previous magistrates court appearance. No further action is to be taken in relation to the suspected driving offence.
It was once inside the van and handcuffed that the man said he was assaulted by police. He described having his head pushed against the van window and said one officer placed his knees on his chest and began strangling him. "I couldn't breathe and I felt that I was going to die," he said.
The man said he decided to turn on the recording facility of his phone after MacFarlane allegedly made sexually explicit references about his mother and telling him he would be "dead in five years".
In the recording, the man sounds agitated; he raises his voice to complain about his treatment and in places insults the arresting officers. The verbal exchange lasts several minutes.
When the man tells an officer: "you tried to strangle me", the officer replies: "No, I did strangle you." The officer adds that he strangled him "'cos you're a cunt" and that the man had been "kicking out". In relation to the strangling, the officer says: "Stopped you though, didn't it?"
Minutes later MacFarlane, who is white, begins abusing the man. After a period of silence, he can be heard telling him: "The problem with you is you will always be a nigger, yeah? That's your problem, yeah."
The man reads out MacFarlane's badge number and complains that he had subjected him to racist comments: "I'll always be a nigger – that's what you said, yeah?"
MacFarlane replies: "You'll always have black skin colour. Don't hide behind your colour, yeah." He adds: "Be proud. Be proud of who you are, yeah. Don't hide behind your black skin."
Shortly before the recording ends, the man can be heard saying: "I get this all the time." He then tells the officer: "We'll definitely speak again about this … It's gonna go all the way, it's gonna go all the way – remember."
The man's lawyer, Michael Oswald, said: "By his own efforts our client has put before the CPS exceptionally strong evidence and we share his astonishment that the CPS have reached a decision that no police officer should be prosecuted on the basis of that evidence. We do welcome their agreement to review that decision and we now await the outcome of that review."
The CPS initially said charges should not be brought against MacFarlane because the remarks did not cause the man harassment, distress or alarm.
Grace Ononiwu, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: "Lawyers for [the complainant] have written to the CPS and asked us to review our decision. I have considered the matter personally and directed that all the evidence should be reconsidered and a fresh decision taken by a senior lawyer with no previous involvement in this matter."
Speaking to the Guardian, the 21-year-old was visibly shaken when recounting the ordeal. "It's hard to explain, but it makes you feel like a piece of shit – it makes you feel not even human," he said.
"I was glad that I had it on the recording. I knew that if I had it saved I could show that I had been abused.
"It's not right. We've just got different skin colour – underneath it we're all the same."
The Metropolitan police confirmed in a statement that it received a complaint on 11 August about alleged "racial" remarks and oppressive conduct.
"These are serious allegations; any use of racist language or excessive use of force is not acceptable."
The force said it had referred the case to the IPCC and that one officer had been suspended.
MacFarlane's solicitor, Colin Reynolds, said: "The officer has been the subject of an investigation, has co-operated in that and been advised he is not to be the subject of criminal proceedings."
Estelle du Boulay, director of the Newham Monitoring Project, said: "Sadly, the shocking treatment of this young man at the hands of police officers – both the physical brutality he describes and the racial abuse he claims he suffered – are by no means unusual; it compares to other reports we have received. What makes this case different is the victim had the foresight and courage to turn on a recording device on his mobile phone."
She compared the incident to the case of Liam Stacey, a student who was jailed for 56 days for posting offensive comments on Twitter after the on-pitch collapse of the Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba.
On Friday Swansea crown court rejected an appeal from Stacey, who used racist terms against other Twitter users.
When the student was sentenced in a magistrates court on Tuesday a senior lawyer at the CPS, Jim Brisbane, said: "Racist language is inappropriate in any setting and through any media. We hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that comments made online are somehow beyond the law."
I know incidently like this must happen from time to time, but it's really concerning to see that the possibility of a reprisal was dismissed so quickly, even when strong evidence was provided.