18 Jul Metropolitan Police must apologise for ‘knee on neck’ arrest, says lawyer | UK News
A man who was detained by a police officer who appeared to kneel on his neck should receive a formal apology, his lawyer has said.
Marcus Coutain was arrested in Islington, north London, on Thursday and was filmed shouting “get off my neck” as he was detained on the floor.
The Metropolitan Police said he had since been charged with possession of a knife in a public place.
His lawyer, Timur Rustem, demanded an apology from the force and said the incident “mirrors almost identically what happened to George Floyd” while in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
The Met said it had referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after admitting the video “looks very concerning”.
One police officer has been suspended and another placed on restricted duties.
Scotland Yard said officers had been called by a member of the public at around 6.30pm on Thursday to reports of a fight in Isledon Road.
Video footage, filmed by a bystander and shared on Twitter, shows two police officers detaining a handcuffed black man.
The suspect can be heard shouting: “Get off me… get off my neck, I haven’t done anything wrong, get off my neck.”
Coutain, 48, appeared in custody at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Saturday afternoon.
He indicated a not guilty plea to the knife charge and the case was adjourned until 17 August and sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court.
The court heard Coutain matched the description of a suspect in an assault case, but Mr Rustem said his client was initially searched for drugs.
He said his client was subsequently told he matched the description of “someone involved in an attack” before the charge was brought for having a knife.
Mr Rustem told the court Coutain had “a lawful reason” for having the blade on him and that it was for repairing his bicycle.
Speaking outside court, Mr Rustem said his client was “very distressed and very confused and not quite sure why he was targeted in this way”.
He told reporters Coutain was “stopped and searched for matters for which he has not been charged”.
On Coutain’s arrest, he said: “It is the use of what I would regard as excessive force, a knee being placed on his neck… references which mirror exactly what happened to George Floyd in America.
“A man saying ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘get your knee off my neck’, while he was already handcuffed and while he was restrained by two police officers.”
He said Coutain suffered “fortunately minimal” injuries to his wrists and neck, adding: “Fortunately it didn’t lead to the tragic consequences that we saw in America.”
Met Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House described the footage as “deeply disturbing” and said some of the techniques, which are “not taught in police training”, caused him “great concern”.