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Tuesday, Feb 07, 2023

IOPC rules out inquiry into armed police stop of Ricardo dos Santos

IOPC rules out inquiry into armed police stop of Ricardo dos Santos

Watchdog refers case back to Met police for its own investigation over sprinter’s claims of aggression and racism

The police watchdog has ruled out an investigation into the Metropolitan police’s treatment of an athlete who was pulled over in his car by seven armed officers.

Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese sprinter based in London, released a video of the incident in central London that took place earlier this month.

He said the officers acted aggressively in what was his third police stop in three years, and that young black people continued to face “over-policing”.

The Met referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to review, but the complaint has now been returned to the Met to carry out its own investigation.

An IOPC spokesperson said: “Having assessed a referral from the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] of a complaint relating to a vehicle stop in Orsett Terrace, west London, on 14 August, we notified the MPS last week that the matter does not require investigation by the IOPC.

“We have sent it back to the force to carry out its own investigation. We also advised that should its investigation identify any conduct matters, then the matter should be re-referred. The complainant has now been advised of our decision.”


The Met previously said that Dos Santos, 27, was stopped in west London over a suspicion that he was using a mobile phone at the wheel. Dos Santos said he was in fact holding his fingers to his face.

In a statement on Thursday, the Met said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct has decided it does not need to investigate a vehicle stop by Met officers in W2.

“The IOPC have returned this complaint to the Met to investigate. This investigation will be led by the Directorate of Professional Standards. The complainant has been informed.”

Dos Santos and his partner, the British sprinter Bianca Williams, were also stopped and handcuffed by the police in July 2020 in what they allege was an instance of racial profiling.

Earlier this month, Dos Santos said the latest incident showed nothing had changed. He told BBC 5 live: “I was worried for my safety, because two years ago I also did nothing wrong. And I was dragged out of my car, and basically set upon by police officers.”

In the latest incident, in the early hours of 14 August, police initially tried to flag down Dos Santos on the M40 flyover. Dos Santos said his previous encounters with the police made him continue driving to a more visible place before stopping.

Defending his decision not to stop immediately, he told the BBC: “The flyover is pretty dark … For my safety and based on my previous incidents with them, I thought that the best place to stop would be somewhere lit up and with the possibility of witnesses. I didn’t fail to stop, I stopped where it’s safe to do so.”

When he did stop five minutes later, Dos Santos was approached by seven armed officers, whom he said acted aggressively. One appeared to try to smash the window of his Tesla, and another tried to prevent him from walking in front of the car where he could be filmed by the vehicle’s dashcam, Dos Santos claimed.

The Met said the officers had “clearly indicated” for the car to pull over but it “failed to do so”, after which they called for further assistance.

“The driver stopped about five minutes later in Orsett Terrace W2, and the officers spoke to him about why they wanted to stop the vehicle,” the force said. “Following the conversation, the vehicle was allowed on its way.”

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