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A BLACK nurse has accused the Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after she was subjected to a “traumatic” hard stop while sitting in her parked car.
Met officers pulled in front of Neomi Bennett’s car in April 2019 and claimed – wrongly – that her windows were illegally tinted.
She was arrested and held in police custody overnight after she refused to get out, fearing it was “some kind of hijack” because she could only see an officer in plain clothes.
Ms Bennett, who has a British Empire Medal for services to nursing, was convicted of obstructing an officer, but prosecutors later decided not to challenge her appeal.
Ms Bennett is now taking the Met Police to court, claiming she was targeted because she is black.
“I believe I was racially profiled and certainly don’t think this would have happened if I were white,” she told the BBC.
Bodycam footage of the incident shows police threatening to smash her windows before they drag her out of the car.
The nurse was locked up despite officers finding nothing illegal in her possession.
Ms Bennett was temporarily suspended from her job after being criminally convicted and said she had been left traumatised by the event.
The StopWatch campaign group, which supported Ms Bennett through her trial last year, said it is not uncommon for people to be “criminalised” through engagements with the police.
“I think what we need to watch is how many of those people that are convicted of obstruction actually had an illegal item on their person so … that if the police had not engaged with that person they wouldn’t have been made a criminal,” chief executive Katrina Ffrench told the Morning Star.
The hard-stop procedure, in which police cars surround a car to box it in, is usually conducted when officers suspect that the occupant is dangerous. It was infamously used to pull over Mark Duggan before he was killed by officers in 2011.
“Why are they using a hard stop on stationary parked cars when they had had no intelligence that the person in that car was committing an offence? That is totally disproportionate,” Ms Ffrench said.
In a statement, the Met Police said it was assessing a complaint relating to the incident.
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