Our full comment on Black People being Tasered: the police are a racist power structure

On Tuesday’s online edition of The Guardian, we were quoted on this story: Black people ‘three times more likely’ to be Tasered

We produce our full unedited comment here in full:

What is it about England’s 43 police forces that their officers are three times more likely to use tasers on Black people than white people?
Put this violence in a context where in Britain today, Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched, arrested, charged and sent to prison than white people.  It is clear, that 16 years after the Macpherson report, the police and the criminal justice system still have a problem with black people.
Nor is there any recourse for black people, as our research showed that over last year when Black people did complain to the Metropolitan Police about racial discrimination, zero complaints were upheld. While publicly displayed racist attitudes are seen as less acceptable, systemic racist outcomes are continued to be pursued without accountability.
It’s also important to remember that police usage of tasers in England have caused a number of fatalities [1, 2], which means the police are disproportionately targeting black people with potentially lethal force.
This racial bias cannot be blamed on individual rotten apples, the consistency of disproportionate racist outcomes means that the entire barrel is suspect. Even the head of Metropolitan Black Police officers Association last year stated that she believed the police are “institutionally racist”. It appears that only people who don’t believe the police are a racist power structure, are white police officers.
We need radical structural reform of the police and the criminal justice system, not merely tough talking against officers using racial slurs. Many members of the black community has little faith that the police can be anything other than racist, this is further evidence to that.

New concerns on the Tilson Gardens Police Shooting

Since our last update on the incident on the 21st August, when the police shot a Brixton resident, there have been further reports in The Guardian (here) and Daily Mirror (here). Both papers named the victim as Nathaniel Brophy, a 34 year old mixed race man, and quoted remarks from his father Patrice Duval.

These reports raise new concerns

The victim was surrendering

The police and IPCC had previously emphasised the claim that they found a “non police firearm” at the site, and used this to imply that Mr Brophy was threatening them, and had to be shot to prevent him doing harm. In fact, according to his family, this “firearm” was an air rifle, and Brophy was not holding it at the time he was shot. “My son did not have a gun. He said he had his hands up,” Mr Duval told the Guardian.

The victim was shot in the back

According to the Guardian, police fired four shots at Mr Brophy, three of which hit him. The Mirror specified that these hit him in the leg, the stomach and the back.

Why were the police there in the first place?

Both reports confirm that Mr Brophy had previously been evicted, and had re-entered his flat with his old keys to collect some of his things. Just as we wrote in our last statement, this account suggests that he was not committing a crime. It’s therefore impossible to see why police came to the flat in the first place. The police should have had a reason for going to the flat, but they haven’t said what it was.

The role of the IPCC

The Guardian reports that the IPCC supervised officers writing up their statements, which they did together in the same room, to make sure that they did not confer with each other, unlike in previous incidents where the police have shot somebody. But, unless the officers involved were supervised immediately after the shooting and kept apart until the moment when they sat down to write, they could still have conferred. Given that the IPCC told a public meeting the week after the shooting that they arrived on the scene “within 3 hours”, that still allows plenty of time for the police to confer. The IPCC should release a detailed timeline of events immediately.

The video footage

Some of the officers were wearing cams. There is also CCTV footage that the IPCC have. This must be released. What are they hiding?

Our Update on the Metropolitan Police Shooting at Tilson Gardens, Lambeth

Two weeks ago, on Friday 21st August, armed officers from the Metropolitan Police’s SO19 unit shot a man at Tilson House, part of the Clapham Park Estate in Lambeth. The man, who has not been named, is in hospital in a stable condition. We hope for his full and speedy recovery. We also hope that he and his family get all the support they need during this time, to ensure the truth of what happened comes out.

This shooting took place 10 years after the killing of Azelle Rodney in Mill Hill, and the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes in Stockwell. It has been 4 years after the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, and 2 years since the non-fatal shooting of an Ghanaian-British man in Forest Hill, South London. In all cases there was not a clear threat to anyone’s life, this statement shows once again that the need for lethal force is grossly ambiguous and unclear.

Our two core concerns are:

The IPCC is delaying the release of the body camera video of officers involved in the shooting.

This needs to be made available now. There has been no clear reason for the shooting. The police have given no justification for why potentially lethal force was used.

So far the only information available to us comes from short statements from the police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), and remarks made at a public meeting last week which LCAPSV members attended. As well as the police and the IPCC, this meeting was also addressed by a representative of the housing association Metropolitan Housing, which is the landlord of the estate – and therefore of the victim, who lived on the estate. We are also grateful to Black Dissidents who also shared with us information that they have gathered.

Previous experience shows that the police cannot be trusted in to provide accurate information especially in relation to incidents of this kind. Similiarly prior experience also shows that the IPCC is not willing to properly challenge the police. Journalists have highlighted its tendency to simply rehash the narratives of the police, and campaigners have called for it to be scrapped. This Freedom of Information request from 2013 shows that the IPCC Director of Investigations, and seven out of eight Senior Investigators, are all former police officers. The “Independent” Police Complaints Commission is the police investigating themselves under another name.

We outline here the statements that we have gained from public meetings and briefing documents released by the Met. We do not automatically accept the detail below to be accurate or a fair representation of events for reasons stated above. We also detail the questions that we are still pursuing for answers.

The Landlord’s Public Statements on the Shooting

According to Metropolitan Housing, the victim lived in a flat in Tilson House. For some reason which they did not reveal, they decided to evict him from his home. They got a court order to do this, and evicted him with bailiffs some time before the day of the shooting. It is believed that because he had nowhere else to go, he went back in to his home after he had been evicted. Metropolitan Housing claims they don’t know how he got back in to his home.

When Metropolitan Housing received information that he was back inside his home, their staff members came round to the flat on the 21st August, accompanied by ordinary, unarmed police officers. Although it was reported in initial police statements that this visit was supposed to be an “eviction”, the Metropolitan Housing representative told last week’s public meeting that it was not an eviction as the eviction had happened previously.

Our Questions to the Landlord Metropolitan Housing

1) We know that the visit on the 21st August was not an eviction under LASPO Act 2012, as Section 144 Clause 2, as it states that a former resident occupying the residence has not committed a criminal squatting offence. So why did the Police accompany your housing officer and on what criminal grounds?

2) If Metropolitan Housing knew the man had nowhere else to go, did the Housing Association referred him to Lambeth Council, given that they were making him homeless?

The Metropolitan Police & IPCC Sanctioned Account of the Shooting

The initial police statement said that the man “emerged from a room” and the police had to withdraw and call armed police for back up. Why would ’emerging from a room’ constitute a threat that required armed police? According to the IPCC representatives, “a [hand]gun was sighted.” It was this gun, allegedly, which caused the unarmed police retreat and call the armed police.

After what the IPCC called a “seige situation” lasting around seven hours, the man was shot outside the flat, and seriously injured. The police and IPCC say that they found a “non-police firearm” after the shooting.

Our Questions to The Metropolitan Police & The IPCC

3) Scotland Yard told the press that this happened during a “pre-planned eviction”. The landlord said this was not the case. So if it wasn’t pre-planned what criminal law was the basis of the initial police visit?

4) Did the man threaten to use the gun? Where was this alleged “gun” sighted in the flat and where was it in relation to the former resident?

5) One local resident whose garden backs on to Tilson House told the public meeting that he heard 3 shots fired. Were all those shots fired by police officers?

6) The IPCC have stated that some of the police involved were wearing bodycams. This footage must be made public. When will the IPCC release the footage from these cameras?

Media Coverage and Myths

Once again there were media reports implying that there was a threat to life which was later unconfirmed but left open to linger as a possibility. Calling the stand-off a “siege” implies there was threat to life, but the IPCC would not confirm that the non-issued gun was on the suspect’s person or near the suspect at the time of the shooting.

The media claim that the man shot had “broken into the flat” and was being “evicted” is false. We now believe from information gathered via Black Dissidents that the person was a former tenant and entered the flat using the keys that they had since being a tenant. Neither was he being evicted which has now been confirmed by Metropolitan Housing.

Our Conclusion

We cannot accept London residents being shot by the Metropolitan Police for “refusing to be evicted”. The family and the public need answers. In the search for that, we will campaign and take to the streets if necessary, because without justice there can be no peace.

London Campaign Against Police & State Violence

LCAPSV Statement on Tasers in the Evening Standard


On Friday 13th February, The London Evening Standard published an edited version of a letter we wrote in relation to their story on One hundred more police officers armed with Tasers to patrol in London, you can read their version here: Letters to the editor: We must resist the spread of Tasers

We publish our full statement with references to underline our commitment to fighting institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police. Thanks to our volunteers who collectively put a lot of work in putting this statement together in a short space of time:

The decision to increase the number of police officers armed with what the Metropolitan Police call ‘less-lethal weapons’ is a dangerous, knee-jerk reaction to a possible threat. Tasers are not ‘non-lethal weapons’. In 2012, a report produced by the American Heart Association stated unequivocally that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest and death. Between 2001 and 2013 there were 540 deaths resulting from the use of stun gun’s by US police officers. Before this announcement figures from 2013 showed that police usage of Tasers in England & Wales had more than doubled from 2009 levels. Alarmingly those figures also showed that Metropolitan Police used Tasers 53 times on London’s children which was a sharp increase.

Theresa May cited London Assembly evidence which revealed that 50% of people Tasered in the UK are from black or other minority ethnic backgrounds and 30% are emotionally or mentally distressed and ordered a review, this action seems to fly in the face of that. Given that BME people make up only 14% of the population, these figures are incredibly disproportionate and clearly indicate that the Metropolitan Police Service remains institutionally racist.

We believe unarmed vulnerable and/or BME people will be put at greater risk. The Commissioner’s assertion that an increase in Taser deployment is necessary to deal with the threat of terrorism is without evidential basis and indicative of the authoritative creep in counter-terrorism policing. This move will bring more, not less, violence to the capital’s streets