A police force which cleared itself of wrongdoing during a stop-and-search incident in which a man who had committed no crime had his car window smashed and was restrained and strip-searched, has been ordered to reinvestigate the matter, the Guardian has learned.
The Independent Office of Police Conduct has ordered City of London police to conduct a new investigation into the incident, which happened on 29 May last year.
Colaço had just done an interview with Channel 4 about racial profiling in stop and search following an earlier police stop in north London on 23 May when the incident took place. He says he has been stopped and searched more than 20 times although has never been charged with any offence and has no criminal record.
Police said they stopped him on suspicion of being in possession of drugs. An officer smashed his car window with his baton, he was dragged out of the car, taken to the ground, restrained by seven officers, handcuffed, stood up and held against a wall.
In their report exonerating themselves of every aspect of the incident apart from the condition in which they returned Colaço’s car to him the investigating officer wrote that Colaço was told to face the wall. It adds: “Contact with the wall appears to have happened as the complainant can be seen wincing on the officers’ body worn video.”
The police report found that although seven officers restrained Colaço this was “proportionate”.
It added: “In my opinion the force used to smash the complainant’s window to gain entry to the vehicle was also justified, proportionate and necessary.”
Colaço was then taken to Bishopsgate police station, where he was strip searched. The investigation report states that the total detention time was 20 hours and 49 minutes.
Police recommended to the Crown Prosecution Service that obstruction charges be pursued against Colaço. However, he was informed in a letter from the police that no further action against him would be taken as there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
Research by University College London has found that young black men in London are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police.
Colaço said he is “not great mentally” following the incident. He said he was pursuing actions against the police and raising the issue in the media not just for himself but on behalf of others who had encountered similar treatment from the police.
“I was the voiceless before. What has happened to me is racial profiling. I have never been involved with drugs in my life, I’ve never broken the law, I’m polite to the police but I still get treated in this way.”
His solicitor, Sophie Khan, said it was unusual for police to be asked to reinvestigate complaints and particularly unusual for the complainant and the police to be asked to agree terms of reference for the reinvestigation, as the Independent Office for Police Conduct has instructed in this case.
“We are trying to agree terms of reference at the moment. This incident was disproportionate on the facts and the evidence that we have seen to date.”
An IOPC spokesperson said: “We received a referral from City of London police (COLP) following a stop and search … and, after careful consideration, we determined the case was suitable for a local investigation, undertaken by the force’s professional standards department. In September the complainant exercised their right of review of the investigation to the IOPC.
“Following a thorough review, in January 2021, we directed the COLP to reinvestigate the complaint. Upon conclusion of the reinvestigation, the complainant will retain the right for a further review to the IOPC.”
A spokesperson for City of London police, said:“We have been informed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that Mr Colaço’s appeal has been upheld. As such, officers from our force’s professional standards department have reopened their investigation into the complaint. We will not be commenting any further while the investigation remains active.”