Police have been using ‘excessive force’ to arrest a black man, who was later cleared of any charges.
Metropolitan Police officers restrained Kamar Hewitt, who can be heard shouting “I can’t breathe” after being sprayed with CS gas, in disturbing footage which went viral after the incident.
As many as six police officers were involved in the arrest of the 23-year-old, who police allege was smoking cannabis when they spotted him in north-west London.
Officers were following up reports of a stabbing suspect in the area.
MPs, along with campaign groups, called for an investigation after the video was shared widely online.
The clip showed “another example of the excessive use of force used against black men,” according to Deborah Coles, who is director of Inquest, a charity which campaigns about the number of deaths in police custody.
“What can be the justification for the use of CS spray when he is being held down on ground by officers? You can see how quickly these situations can end in death”, she added.
The forceful arrest has now been referred to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards for investigation.
A spokesperson for Met Police confirmed that officers attended Craven Park Road in Harlesden at 3pm on Thursday after being informed that a suspect in a stabbing was in the area.
“Officers attended and approached the male who was seen to be smoking cannabis,” the force spokesperson said. “The male was informed that he would be detained for a search.”
A clip of the incident shows four officers surrounding Hewitt as he tells them: “All you had to say is a cannabis spliff … calm down blud.”
One of the officers ask about a knife and another advises Hewitt to ‘release your hand’.
The clip also records the concerned shouts of bystanders, “You can’t kick him like that” and “It’s just one guy” and “One person, six police officer” can be overheard.
A nearby woman expresses fears Hewitt could be killed.
Hewitt can be seen falling down on to the ground as the officers continue attempts to handcuff his arms behind his back.
Onlookers continue to voice concerns as an officer uses CS spray, Hewitt can then be heard shouting: “I can’t breathe!”
The footage was shared online by Charmaine Brown. Brown posted the clip, asking: “Why does it take so many officers to detain one man? Why are they still beating him and constantly spraying him in the face when he is already down. I saw lots of minutes where they could of just handcuffed him quickly.”
Hewitt was initially arrested on suspicion of GBH, possession of cannabis, obstructing a drugs search and two counts of assault on police officer. He has been eliminated as a suspect in a stabbing.
He has since been charged with possession of cannabis, obstructing a drugs search and two counts of assault on police and is due in court in November.
The Met Police have defended the officers involved. In a statement, the force said: “The male was informed that he would be detained for a search.
“He refused to follow instructions and resisted police efforts to restrain him for the search.
“Due to the nature of the offence the male was suspected to be involved in, a number of officers worked to detain the male and approved techniques were used to place him in handcuffs. CS spray was also used.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Too often a disproportionate level of force is used by police against young black men. It has to stop. Evidence based stop and search is important in fighting crime, but all that we see here is the type of video that poisons police-community relations.”
One of the officers, who were all wearing body cams during the incident, was treated for minor injuries after a bottle was thrown at police by onlookers.