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City of London Police lied over tasering a black social worker in ‘fighting stance’, hears the High Court. – The Justice Gap
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
August 14 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

City of London Police lied over tasering a black social worker in ‘fighting stance’, hears the High Court.

City of London Police lied over tasering a black social worker in ‘fighting stance’, hears the High Court.

Emergency lights, Etolane, Flickr under Creative Comms,

Police officers who tasered a black social worker after he was stopped in his vehicle lied in statements to justify their use of force, the High Court has been told. Edwin Afriyie is currently suing the City of London Police for assault and misfeasance in public office, alleging that he was unlawfully handcuffed and Tasered. Body-worn video footage played in court and published by The Guardian here shows that Afriyie had his arms folded and was standing apart from the officers when he was Tasered after being stopped in his vehicle. Written statements by officers at the scene had claimed that Afriyie was in a ‘fighting stance’ and ‘steeling himself to attack’.

‘No honest person could describe Mr Afriyie as readying himself to attack anybody,’ said his barrister David Hughes in court on Wednesday. Hughes argued that officers at the scene lied repeatedly in their statements to justify the Tasering after the event. ‘If this Tasering was justified, the officers wouldn’t need to embellish their accounts.’

Afriyie was driving friends back from a party in East London in April 2018 when he was pulled over by officers who suspected him of drink-driving. After failing to register a result on the breathalyser, Afriyie was asked to put his arms behind his back to be handcuffed but pulled back and was subsequently Tasered in the chest.

City of London Police has denied liability and instead advanced that its use of force was ‘necessary and reasonable’. Mark Lay-Morgan, the barrister acting on behalf of the force, pointed towards Afriyie’s refusal to be placed in handcuffs after being told to place his hands behind his back as evidence that he was ‘aggressive’. He was handcuffed while incapacitated on the pavement and was escorted by ambulance to the Royal London hospital. His handcuffs were only removed after a request by medical staff.

Medical evidence suggests that Afriyie was briefly knocked unconscious. He suffered a head injury and was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Afriyie also said the incident left him suicidal. City of London police argue that he did not lose consciousness. Afriyie was also asked to take a blood test in hospital but offered to do a urine test instead, citing a phobia of needles. Lay-Morgan said this was not the case, drawing attention to vaccinations and acupuncture that he had received in the past. Lay-Morgan argued that Afriyie had deliberately failed to blow hard enough in breathalyser tests and was not complying with police instructions. Afriyie denied this.

Afriyie told police he had ‘breathing issues’; the court heard he had visited a GP as a teenager about the problem. But Lay-Morgan countered his claim, identifying that a consultant said he was healthy and that there was no evidence that this affected him as an adult. Afriyie was later charged with failure to provide a sample for analysis, though the prosecution dropped the case upon being ordered by magistrates to provide body-worn camera footage of the incident.

‘I started to feel as though I should give up on life. I was a shell of the person I was before,’ said Afriyie in a witness statement to the court. ‘I had always been a proud, strong black man. Now I was questioning everything about my appearance and identity.’

‘I believed that now I was a target because of the way I looked. I do not believe things would have escalated the way that they did had it not been for the way I looked.’