A black teenager has spoken of how he was knocked off his bike into thorny bushes by a plainclothes Metropolitan Police officer who also threatened him with a stun gun. The incident, on the River Lea towpath, happened as 13-year-old Huugo Boateng was taking part in a charity bike ride with his father.
Speaking to the Observer, the teenager said: “I’d turned around to see if my dad had caught up behind me, and suddenly this man came out of nowhere.
“He was crazy angry and shouting. I got scared because I thought he might be mugging me or trying to give me corona so I ran, but there was nowhere to go but in the bushes.”
The youngster was left with cuts on his face after landing head-first in the thorns.
He said that the police officer aimed a Taser at him before handcuffing him, while elsewhere on the path his father Andrew, aged 43, was also put in handcuffs by officers, with the pair suspected of having been involved in a stabbing incident nearby.
The incident happened at around 6.30pm on Thursday 4 June – the day after thousands of people had marched through central London in a Black Lives Matter protest.
Between six and eight police officers were present and Huugo’s father Andrew said: “If this was a normal stop and search, I could respect that. But it is obvious why we were treated the way we were.
“The police came in at high-octane aggression level 10. We were on a family bike ride, and my son was essentially assaulted by a police officer. We were threatened with Tasers even though we weren’t resisting, and then just put in handcuffs.”
Part of the incident was recorded by photographer Louise Paton, who lives on a houseboat moored on the river, with footage published on the Observer’s website, after she began filming following an appeal from Andrew for someone to record what was happening on camera.
In response to a question from her, a police officer said: “The victim at this point was very unwilling to give us descriptions. The only thing he has given us is IC3 [police code for a black person] males on a bike … That’s very vague, isn’t it?”
She said: “The mood was defensive, borderline aggressive and patronising. I was disgusted. It really drove the issue [of racism] home for me.
“The way they spoke to Andrew, the way they treated him and kept him in handcuffs so long when he could prove so quickly he was completely innocent and the wrong person. It was just so disappointing to see.”
Besides his job at City University, Andrew volunteers for the outreach programme Kinckoff@3, whose co-founder Michael Wallace is a police officer with the Met.
He said: “I couldn’t vouch for a more humble and more dedicated member of the community.
“The irony is that Kickoff@3 is about building good relationships with youth and the police, and Andy is instrumental in helping with that programme. The bike ride he was doing was organised by us – we were raising money for a homeless charity and a domestic violence one.”
The Metropolitan police said: “The Met has received a complaint from a member of the public in relation to this incident. The Met takes all complaints seriously and this will be thoroughly investigated.”
Pointing out that he had worked alongside police on initiatives relating to youth and knife crime, Andrew said, “There has to be some learning from the police.
“I got this when I was a teenager, and you were taught to keep your head down and stay calm.
You’d think by now things would have changed and I wouldn’t have to have that conversation with my own kids. I’ve always taught them to trust the police.”
The family live in Tottenham, and their local MP, David Lammy, called for an investigation, saying that the incident “has understandably caused alarm in the community.”
Police said that the stabbing victim, a 21-year-old male, had been taken to hospital and subsequently discharged.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.