— soph (@PasDe_Cheval) July 8, 2020
Sussex Police have responded to anger about a video of officers pinning down a suspect while he tells them he can’t breathe.
Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council Nancy Platts is to meet the city’s policing commander, Nick May, over her concerns about the footage, which has been circling on social media.
In the film, a suspect loudly objects to an officer putting his elbow on his neck, and then tells him he can’t breathe. At the end of the footage, the officer takes his arm away.
Chief Superintendent Nick May said police are reviewing the officer’s body worn footage and would take appropriate action, but cautioned that the clip only featured a snapshot of a much longer operation in Montpelier Road on Tuesday, 7 July in which the 28-year-old man was arrested during a search for a missing 17-year-old girl.
He said: “Officers were investigating a missing teenage girl who they subsequently found and took into safety.
“We understand that some people may find these videos shocking but it is important for people to understand the wider context. Both videos show a small part of much longer interactions.
“All police officers are trained to use reasonable force, lawfully and proportionately, if they believe there is an imminent risk of physical harm to either the public or to themselves, and if they cannot otherwise defuse the situation.
“We are reviewing these incidents, including body worn video footage captured at the scene, to identify if any further investigation or learning is required. We have voluntarily advised the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that we intend to refer the most recent matter to them for additional scrutiny.
“It is vital people can trust and have confidence in our policing approach, that we are fair, inclusive and that we treat everyone in our diverse communities equally and with respect. We meet regularly with community groups and independent advisors to seek their feedback and advice on this but accept there is always more work to do.
“We await the outcome of the reviews of these incidents and will take any appropriate action as required.”
The force will also be reviewing the circumstances around another video from Friday, June 26 which shows a 22-year-old man suspected of concealing a large blade being arrested. Officers found he was carrying garden shears and further searches uncovered stolen goods and two kitchen knives.
Councillor Nancy Platts said: “I was angry when I saw the video and I know other people are too. Many people have contacted me to share their fear and distress and I thank them for reaching out to me and other councillors about this.
“I’ve spoken with Nick May and have asked him for details about this arrest and about the restraining techniques that were used.
“I agree with Sussex Police’s decision to refer the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who will look into this and form a decision on whether any further investigation is needed.
“I understand this referral in itself won’t make people feel less angry about the restraint methods used yesterday. I have spoken with the Chair of the Brighton and Hove Racial Harassment Forum Mahir Chowdhury and have agreed to attend a meeting between Mahir and Nick to hear more about how people are arrested and community relations between the police and Black communities in the city.
“Brighton and Hove is renowned around the world for its strength as a city because we challenge inequality. We know as a council we need to do more to end racism and racial inequality in the city and we have given that commitment to start this work immediately.
“A Black Lives Matter march is being held in the city this weekend. I want the march to be safe for everyone to attend so that together we can show our solidarity in ending racism.
“I ask everyone to protest peacefully so that voices can be heard and listened to.”