Sprinter denies routinely provoking police officers – misconduct panel

Sprinter denies routinely provoking police officers – misconduct panel

Sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos has denied routinely provoking officers after he was questioned during a misconduct hearing on two incidents in which his vehicles were stopped by police.

Mr Dos Santos and Bianca Williams, both international athletes, believe they were racially profiled during a “disturbing” July 4 2020 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 boy 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, but nothing was found.

A disciplinary hearing in south-east London, where the five officers could be sacked if gross misconduct is proven, was shown footage on Friday taken by the pair from within the car in which Mr Dos Santos can be heard “mocking” officers and laughing.

The 28-year-old, a Portuguese competitor in the 400m sprint at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, told the panel that he was “happily” mocking the officers.

He went on: “I’m laughing because I don’t know why I’m being stopped, because I knew that this stop would have ended up in them either just driving away or going away as all my other stops have happened.

“They make a big big deal out of everything…they search the whole vehicle, they say cannabis they say drugs. I knew I had nothing wrong on my vehicle so it’s me laughing, it’s going to be a pointless stop.”

The athlete denied the suggestion that “the truth is you routinely provoke police officers”.

“I do not provoke police officers,” he said. “You will see that they came out from their van … in seven seconds they had their batons raised.”

Ricardo Dos Santos
Ricardo Dos Santos (right) has competed in the Olympics (Tim Goode/PA)

He further denied provoking police officers in relation to an incident in August 2022 in which Mr Dos Santos was stopped by different Metropolitan Police officers while driving a Tesla.

It was alleged by legal representatives of the five officers involved in the hearing on Friday that Mr Dos Santos “provocatively undertook” a police vehicle in the 2022 incident.

The sprinter denied the allegation.

He wrote in a witness statement that his Tesla, in self-drive mode, “automatically manoeuvred its way around the police vehicle to prevent a collision”.

The panel heard police enquiries with the electric car company found that Mr Dos Santos’ car would not have been able to change lanes and would not have undertaken when in self-drive mode.

The athlete insisted that “every single Tesla car” has basic safety features.

“What the car does, the steering wheel shakes and you have to grab hold of it,” he said. “It was either going to the back of the (police) car … or grab the wheel and go around it. Regardless the car still performs its own manoeuvres when it is set on autopilot.”

Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos outside Palestra House
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos outside Palestra House (James Manning/PA)

Acting PS Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, Pc Jonathan 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.

A/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 six-week hearing will continue on Monday at 10am.