Two Black brothers, who accused London’s Metropolitan police of racial profiling after they were handcuffed and searched for contraband outside their residence, have reached a settlement with the law enforcement agency.
According to The Guardian, Nicholas Peart, 24, and Leon Peart, 20, were detained by police officers on April 13, 2020. Leon had turned 18 on that day. But he said he was left crying on what was supposed to be a celebratory day.
“We go to church, we follow the law,” Nicholas said. “The only reason [for the arrests] I can assume is race.” The Met, however, said the brothers were not racially profiled. At the time of their arrests, authorities in the European nation had implemented strict lockdown measures. But the brothers as well as their mother were classified as essential workers at the time.
Nicholas also said he was in his vehicle when the officers approached him. Police, in documents, had said they were initially trying to ascertain why Nicholas was not indoors. And though a fine was not issued, Nicholas was handcuffed and searched after an officer claimed to have spotted items connected to drugs.
When Leon noticed his brother had been handcuffed after coming outside, he rushed indoors to get their mother. The Met police, in documents, had also claimed they suspected the brothers were orchestrating a possible drug deal.
“Drug paraphernalia was seen inside the vehicle and as subject being spoken to, an unknown male looked to be approaching the subject’s vehicle and ran [out of] sight of police. Believe to be a possible drug deal,” police claimed in the documents.
An officer also said Leon was placed in handcuffs because he was “bigger than me and clearly much stronger.” “I was aware that gang nominal and drug dealers regularly carry weapons and have been assaulted doing similar style stops on numerous occasions,” the officer added.
Nicholas said the incident has since left him with a “diminished” view of the police. “It was embarrassing to put me in handcuffs in front of my neighbors. Beforehand I had a good view of the police. I always said hi to the local officer,” he said.
Nicholas also said the police tried “to cover their own backs” when they lodged a complaint over the incident. “They twisted them and the metal digs into your hands. I think it was racist and because of my skin color. There’s no change in the Met. Words are cheap, once we see actions we can start to believe their stories,” Nicholas added.
“The bigger problem here is that their experience is at least in part the result of a toxic culture within the Met which sees black Londoners disproportionately stopped and searched by police on the street every day. This is what the commissioner should be tackling,” Carolynn Gallwey, a solicitor who represented the brothers, also said.
One of the officers involved in the incident was identified as Paul Hefford, The Guardian reported. He was terminated from the police force in July 2022 after he was exposed for being part of a hate message group. His dismissal also came after a Met disciplinary panel determined the group had shared “racist and discriminatory” messages. Some of those messages were targeted at Meghan Markle.
“One of the three officers involved was dismissed over an unrelated matter in June 2022. His statement could no longer be relied upon. Following this, we took the decision to settle the claim without admission of liability. Based on the accounts of the two other officers, we did not accept the men were stopped and searched because of the color of their skin,” Met deputy assistant commissioner Bas Javi said.