The Metropolitan Police have issued an apology more than two years after an insurer sitting in his car outside his home was handcuffed, injured, strip searched and held in a cell by officers looking for cannabis.
No drugs were found on Tariq Stanley, 30, who believes his race was the reason he was targeted. He said he was traumatized and suffered injuries to his left shoulder and wrist, which remained in a splint for two months.
Stanley sued after a Met investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing.
The Met paid £22,500 in damages and costs, before the case alleging assault and false imprisonment reached court.
Met Commander Jon Savell said: “We accepted responsibility for our actions that day, which fell below expected standards.”
The Met insists that the way it conducts stops and searches is a crucial crime-fighting tactic.
Savell said the force apologized for “the injury and distress caused”, adding: “Officers that day acted with good intentions in arresting and searching the man. He was never with their intention that he suffer injury.
Stanley is the fifth young black man in recent weeks to win damages from the Met after being searched for drugs with none found, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds for strength.
Stanley said he had fought for more than two years to hold them accountable and the police had no reason to search him.
According to legal documents, Stanley was working from home on April 17, 2020 and at 7.30pm left his flat in Woolwich, south-east London. Dressed in a bathrobe and slippers, he sat in the front seat of his BMW car, put on his headphones and a YouTube video, and lit a cigarette. His wife didn’t want him to smoke in their apartment.
A police van with six officers from the Violent Crimes Task Force pulled up behind his car. An officer said he could smell cannabis and asked if he smoked drugs.
Stanley said he misunderstood, thinking the officer asked if he had smoked and answered “Yes”. He insisted, contrary to the Met’s claims, that he did not interfere with the drug search.
He was released without charge nine hours later, just before 5 a.m.
Stanley said he had already been stopped and searched twice since he was 18. go forward.
“The police have not changed. Definitely not. We had to chase them for the apology even after the lawyers accepted it. They kept denying any responsibility or doing anything wrong, but then said there was money and an apology. It does not mean anything.”
The Met said: “Due to government guidelines regarding Covid-19, officers approached the man to check on what he was doing in the area. Officers noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from the vehicle and the man admitted to smoking the Class B drug.
“The man, then aged 27, was informed that he was going to be detained for the purposes of a search for narcotics. He was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a drug search following a fight with officers. It was during this struggle that he suffered his injuries.
The Met said it would learn from the lessons and claimed that stops and searches between October 2021 and September 2022 had uncovered more than 55,404 acts of crime, which was “vital in saving lives on the streets of London”.
Iain Gould, Stanley’s solicitor, said: ‘Why wasn’t the apology that Tariq undoubtedly deserved given to him in response to his complaint, at an earlier stage and unforced when it would have meant so much more…?
“Tariq’s case is another example of the failure of the police complaints system.”
Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed the Met had paid damages to two brothers, Nicholas Peart and Leon Peart, who were searched and handcuffed outside their family’s east London home in April 2020.
While that case was settled before it went to court, a week later the Met settled mid-trial with Liam and Dijon Joseph who were arrested and searched after bumping into each other’s fists in south London in 2018.
All four men believe they were targeted for stop and search because of their race, which the Met denies.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which declined to independently investigate Stanley’s complaint, said: ‘The force is required to determine whether, following civil proceedings, there is a question of conduct to be recorded and returned. We are not immediately aware of receiving any referrals regarding this case.