Two British police officers, Constables Johnathan Clapham and Sam Franks, have been dismissed from their positions after being found guilty of gross misconduct in the stop and search of two Black athletes. The case, which raised accusations of racial profiling, involved British sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner, Portuguese 400m runner Ricardo dos Santos.
In July 2020, Williams and dos Santos were followed and pulled over by the police in London’s Maida Vale for allegedly suspicious driving. The officers claimed to have smelled cannabis and proceeded to handcuff the athletes and search their car for weapons and drugs. The couple’s three-month-old son was also separated from them during the incident. However, no illegal substances were found, and no arrests were made.
During the misconduct hearing, it was revealed that Clapham and Franks had lied about smelling cannabis, leading to their dismissal. They were also found to be in breach of honesty standards. Allegations of breaches of police standards over equality and diversity were not proven against three other officers involved in the incident.
The Metropolitan Police initially stated that the officers’ actions did not warrant disciplinary action, but later apologized to Williams and dos Santos and referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) due to public interest. The incident occurred during a period of heightened racial tensions following the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Dos Santos, who testified during the hearing, expressed his fear for his family and stated that he had frequently been stopped by the police. He believed the officers were racist and that he had been stereotyped because he was a Black man driving an expensive car.
The case adds to the Metropolitan Police’s recent troubles, as a report in March found the force to be institutionally racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. Dos Santos criticized the hearing panel for not acknowledging the findings of the report, which he believes clearly states that the Met Police is institutionally racist.
In a separate development, government figures released last month revealed that Black individuals are four times more likely to be stopped while driving compared to their white counterparts.