UK watchdog probes police stop of sprinter dos Santos
LONDON (AP) — Britain’s police watchdog is investigating after armed officers pulled over Portuguese sprinter Ricardo dos Santos’ car in London two years after a traffic stop of the athlete led to accusations of racial profiling.
The Metropolitan Police force said officers on a routine patrol pulled over a car in west London early Sunday because they thought the driver might be using a mobile phone at the wheel. The force said officers spoke to the driver, who then went on his way.
Police said the driver lodged a complaint and the force has referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, “recognizing the public interest.”
Dos Santos, 27, said Tuesday that he doesn’t feel safe driving in the British capital.
“I’ve recently changed cars. I’ve got a family car just so I can stand out a lot less, but I guess it’s not the car – it’s the person driving the car,” he told the BBC.
“And every time I do see a police car when I’m driving I think, ‘Is it going to happen this time? Will it happen this time? When is it going to happen again?’” he said.
In 2020, dos Santos and his partner, British runner Bianca Williams, were stopped in west London while traveling with their 3-month-old baby in a car. The couple, who are both Black, were handcuffed and searched for weapons and drugs. Nothing was found.
Police later apologized, and five officers face gross misconduct hearings over the 2020 stop and search.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in 2020 that the incident highlighted the need to overhaul the leadership of the Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest police department.
London police chief Cressida Dick quit in February after Khan publicly criticized her leadership following a string of allegations involving racist and misogynistic behavior within her department’s ranks.