Sprinter appeared nervous during stop and search, Pc tells misconduct hearing

Ricardo Dos Santos and Bianca Williams believe they were racially profiled during an encounter with five Metropolitan Police officers.

Helen William
Thursday 05 October 2023 18:39 BST
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos are both athletes (James Manning/PA)
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos are both athletes (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

A black Olympic sprinter appeared to be “nervous” and “aggressive” during a stop and search, an officer has told a police misconduct hearing.

Body-worn footage played at a disciplinary hearing on Thursday showed Ricardo Dos Santos, who competed for Portugal in the 400m at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in handcuffs and being kept next to a wall in a street on July 4 2020 by police officers.

Mr Dos Santos, 28, and his partner and Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, 29, believe they were racially profiled during an encounter with five Metropolitan Police officers who followed them as they drove to their west London home from training with their then-three-month-old son in the back seat of their Mercedes.

The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they pulled over outside their property. Nothing was found.

Pc Jonathan Clapham, who is among five officers who could be sacked if gross misconduct is proven, said Mr Dos Santos’s insistence he had the keys to his properly owned car did not allay “the suspicion of them having drugs in that vehicle”.

He told the hearing in south-east London: “He was pacing from side to side, not keeping his hands still as if he was nervous, avoiding contact with police.

“It appears to me that he had been potentially very nervous and angry and potentially could have had things in the vehicle.”

In the footage, Mr Dos Santos states he has previously come into contact with police.

Pc Clapham said the officers were given no reason for the previous contact and “it again demonstrated an evasive attitude to police” and “it demonstrated to me that he was still trying to hide something”.

The situation meant Mr Dos Santos, who swears at various points while he is detained, “continued to be an unknown quantity”.

Mr Dos Santos also states on the video that he was previously stopped by police for “DWB, driving while black” and tells them to check his licence which should be in the car.

Pc Clapham told the hearing he was “suspicious and fearful” there may have been weapons or drugs in the vehicle and he did not want to give Mr Dos Santos the chance to “swallow or discard” items by allowing him to go to the car.

His risk assessment was that it was “operationally necessary” to keep Mr Dos Santos standing against a wall where officers could “control him”.

Keeping Mr Dos Santos away from Ms Williams, who was standing a short distance away, at this point meant they could not “collude” or talk and it “sanitised the situation and keeps it truthful”, according to Pc Clapham.

Mr Dos Santos, who pointed out that as a top athlete he is not involved with cannabis and that his son is in the car, asked for the police to carry out a drugs test.

In the footage, he later states: “Do you know how much that would cost me career-wise? I would never do cannabis. It would cost me hundreds of thousands.”

At another point in the footage, he also said: “You can search me. All I have got is lycra underneath this. I have just come back from training.”

He added: “I am telling you I have been stopped too many times. I do not like it.”

Pc Clapham, who says he did not see “a sustained period of calmness” at that point, added: “He has shouted abuse. He is pacing from side-to-side. He is not stopping still and keeps moving his hands around – to me he is displaying a nervous and, at times, aggressive behaviour.”

Pc Clapham said he “remained professional”. Neither he or the other officers swore at the athlete, he added.

He said eventually the officers managed to “calm him down” somewhat and they all engage in chit-chat.

Pc Clapham denied his actions were because Mr Dos Santos is black.

The officer said he acted in response to “the nature of how he drove the Mercedes vehicle, the clear refusal to abide by directions to stop” and “his aggressive persistent behaviour, initially, and his nervous behaviour throughout – that is what affected my dealings with him”.

Acting PS Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, Pc Clapham, Pc Michael Bond and Pc Sam Franks deny all charges against them, which include allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop and search.

Acting PS Simpson and Pcs Clapham, Bond and Franks also face allegations that their actions amounted to a breach of professional behaviour standards in relation to the use of force.

They are said to have failed in relation to their levels of authority, respect and courtesy, as well as in their duties and responsibilities.

Pc Casey is also accused of breaching professional standards in the way he carried out his duties and responsibilities or gave orders and instructions.

It is also alleged that the honesty and integrity of Pcs Casey, Clapham, Bond and Franks breached professional behaviour standards.

The hearing was adjourned to Monday at 10am.

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