A police watchdog is appealing for witnesses to the mistaken stop and search of a 14-year-old black schoolboy who was bundled to the ground and handcuffed.
Asthmatic De-Shaun Joseph, 14, told ITV he thought he was going to die when he was restrained by Metropolitan Police officers near Blackhorse Lane tram stop in Croydon, south London, on June 23.
His mother has made an official complaint alleging that the officers used excessive force and treated him differently because he is a black teenager.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said on Thursday that investigators want to make contact with anyone who witnessed what happened.
IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “I’m aware of the concern the footage of this incident has caused.
“We know the use of stop and search can have a negative impact on black and minority ethnic groups and erode public confidence in policing, so it is vital we thoroughly investigate this matter and establish the full circumstances around the officers’ interaction with this child.
“We would really like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident so they can help us to paint as full a picture as possible of what happened.”
In the days after the search, De-Shaun’s mother Janet Joseph told ITV she had feared her son would be the next George Floyd, in reference to the black man who was murdered by a US police officer in May 2020, sparking a global outcry.
She told the broadcaster: “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
“It’s the same old story – every black boy fits the description.
“There’s no excuse for what they did to my son and the excessive force they used on a 14-year-old black boy.”
The Metropolitan Police said officers had been called after a primary school child had been robbed of his mobile phone by a group of teenagers who said they had a knife.
De-Shaun’s clothes matched the description of one of the suspects and he was then searched and eliminated as a suspect.
Superintendent Andy Brittain, from the local policing team in Croydon, said: “We do not underestimate the impact stop and search has on communities and individuals; we know that to maintain public confidence in its use, stop and search must be used in a fair, effective and professional manner.
“We are now far more accountable than ever before and the use of stop and search powers are subject to scrutiny both internally and externally, through community monitoring groups.”
Anyone who witnessed all or part of the incident can contact the IOPC by emailing BlackhorseRoad@policeconduct.gov.uk or calling 0300 303 5736.