A nurse pulled over by police during a “hard stop” has claimed she was wrongly arrested because she is black.
Neomi Bennett was sitting in her car while dropping off a friend in Wandsworth, south London, late one evening in April 2019 when they were suddenly surrounded by police.
She says Metropolitan Police officers “scared the life out of her” when they performed a “hard stop” manoeuvre – pulling in front of her vehicle to block it in.
In footage captured on police body-worn cameras, Ms Bennett can be heard repeatedly saying she is scared as she stands on the side of a dark street.
Ms Bennett, 47, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for her services to nursing, was arrested after failing to comply with repeated demands to get out of the vehicle.
She was held in a police cell for 18 hours, according to The Guardian, and later convicted of obstructing a police officer.
Police combed Ms Bennett’s car but nothing incriminating was found.
The nurse, who invented the Neo-slip device used by the NHS to help patients with deep vein thrombosis, says she believes she was racially profiled by police.
She told the BBC the police officers “came at” her in a “very extraordinary manner” that “scared the life out of” her.
“Had it been one officer or had they not done a hard stop in front of me [or if] their approach had been different, then I think it would have been a very different outcome,” she said.
She added: “I believe I was racially profiled and certainly don’t think this would have happened if I were white.”
Ms Bennett overturned her conviction after lodging an appeal, which prosecutors decided not to challenge, and is now planning to bring legal action against the Metropolitan Police.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “The Crown Prosecution Service received an appeal and we are aware of their decision not to pursue the appeal hearing.
“The South West Basic Command Unit (SWBCU) professional standards team has received a number of complaints relating to this incident, one is still currently under assessment.
“Due to the current complaint, we cannot go into any more detail at this time. However, Sally Benatar, SWBCU Commander, has recently been in contact with Neomi Bennett and has put her in touch with the local Independent Advisory Group chair to discuss her experiences with police.”
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