Ricardo dos Santos: IOPC to review case after armed Met police arrest athlete

The police watchdog will review how a sportsman who has been repeatedly arrested was stopped again, this time by seven armed officers, as it considers legal action.

Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese sprinter based in London, said he released a video of the incident in central London on Sunday morning to show that black youths continued to face “policing excess”. He said he feared for his safety during the stop, the third in the past two years.

I’m not surprised to have to go through this again. While driving home last night 7 armed @metpoliceuk the officers pulled me over because they thought i was on the phone while driving. At their request, I stopped when it was safe to do so. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Px2KSJZQi8

— Ricardo Dos Santos (@RDSS400) August 14, 2022

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I’m not surprised to have to go through this again. While driving home last night 7 armed @metpoliceuk the officers pulled me over because they thought i was on the phone while driving. At their request, I stopped when it was safe to do so. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Px2KSJZQi8

— Ricardo Dos Santos (@RDSS400) August 14, 2022

The Metropolitan Police said it had referred her complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). His spokesman told the Guardian he was taking legal advice on whether he could sue the force.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Dos Santos said nothing had changed since he and his partner, British sprinter Bianca Williams, were stopped and handcuffed by police in July 2020 in what they allege it was an incidence of racial profiling.

The stop-and-search controversies were cited in June as one of several scandals that saw the Met placed under special measures by the police inspectorate.

Dos Santos said: “My intention was purely for people to understand that although the police have put in special measures, nothing will change or change.” He added: “My worry is that it will never stop. If people don’t talk about it [it] especially people with a platform and a voice, it will not stop”.

In a statement on Monday, the Met said: “We have now recorded this matter as a public complaint. We have also referred it voluntarily to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, recognizing the public interest. We look forward to your views on how they may want to take this forward.”

Dos Santos said his previous encounters led him to drive to a more visible location when police initially tried to flag him down on the M40 crossing in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Defending his decision not to stop immediately, he said: “The passage is quite dark… For my own safety and based on my previous incidents with them, I thought the best place to stop would be a lighted place with potential witnesses. I didn’t stop, I stopped where it was safe to do so.”

He added: “I was worried about my safety, because two years ago I didn’t do anything wrong either. And I was dragged out of the car and basically attacked by police officers.”

When he stopped, five minutes later, Dos Santos was accosted by seven armed officers in three police vehicles. He said the officers acted aggressively. One appeared to try to break the window of his Tesla, and another tried to stop him from walking in front of the car where he could be filmed by the vehicle’s dash cam, Dos Santos said.

He said: “I think this whole environment that it’s been played in, it was overpolicing.”

Police said a routine armed patrol called for more help after the car initially failed to stop when requested.

The Met confirmed that Dos Santos was stopped on suspicion of using a mobile phone at the wheel. He was allowed to go after a discussion with officers. Dos Santos said he showed officers his phone to prove he hadn’t used it. He said he kept “as calm as possible.” He added: “It’s happened many times. So it’s my norm.”

He said he deliberately did not film the incident, noting that his car recorded footage automatically. He said that after the 2020 incident when his family stopped driving a Mercedes with tinted windows, they decided to switch vehicles. “I thought a family car would stand out a lot less,” he said.

He said the cameras in the car made him feel safer and one of the officers stopped behaving aggressively after he was told the car had a camera. Dos Santos said, “You act differently when you know you’re being recorded.”

Dos Santos has declined an invitation from the Met, posted on Twitter, to discuss the matter. He said: “I have passed it on to my lawyer. I will have no direct contact with them.”

After posting a video of the incident on Twitter, Dos Santos has been criticized on the platform for not initially stopping.

Several anonymous accounts claiming to represent police officers were among those critical of Dos Santos. One post, purportedly written by a former firearms officer, accused him of trying to “baiting police to pursue an anti-police agenda“.

Dos Santos said: “I don’t let the comments affect me. Everyone on social media debating what should have happened or what shouldn’t have happened.”


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