Officer ‘incorrect’ when he said cannabis smell was coming from athletes’ car
Ricardo Dos Santos and his partner, Team GB athlete Bianca Williams, believe they were racially profiled.
A police officer has admitted he was incorrect when he said a smell of cannabis was coming from the car of two top athletes, a misconduct hearing was told.
Pc Sam Franks ran out of the police van and around to the driver’s side of the Mercedes that sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos and his partner and Team GB athlete Bianca Williams were inside on July 4 2020.
Pc Franks had his baton in his hand in the body-worn video and was shouting “get out of the car”. He said he could see Mr Dos Santos “with his phone up to the window as if he was filming”.
He searched Mr Dos Santos once he was out of the car and was heard on body-worn camera footage saying “I can also smell cannabis coming from the car”, which was played at the misconduct hearing in south east London where five Metropolitan Police officers could be sacked if gross misconduct is proven.
Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams, both international athletes, believe they were racially profiled during a “disturbing” encounter with five Metropolitan Police officers who followed them as they drove to their west London home from training with their then-three-month-old boy in the back seat of their Mercedes.
The couple were handcuffed and searched on suspicion of having drugs and weapons after they were pulled over outside their property, but nothing was found.
Mr Dos Santos could be heard on the footage replying: “What do you mean, ‘I could smell cannabis’? Do you know who I am?”
Pc Franks on Tuesday admitted he was “incorrect” when he said on the footage he could smell cannabis coming from the car.
He added: “I’d only been by the car for a matter of seconds when Mr Dos Santos opened the door, stepped out, pulled away from me and we were in a struggle.
“I wasn’t initially aware where the odour was coming from.”
Asked if in the past he has searched someone and did not initially smell cannabis, but then there was a smell later, Pc Franks said: “What usually happens, there’s a disturbance of where it is, it’s in underwear or a smell-proof bag, it dislodges and the smell starts emanating.”
During cross-examination by Karon Monaghan KC, for the IOPC, she suggested Pc Franks was lying when he said the smell of cannabis was coming from the car, suggesting he “changed your mind about it when your colleagues said they could smell it on his person”.
He replied: “No.”
Acting PS Rachel Simpson asked Pc Franks if he wanted to take Mr Dos Santos “onto the van to ferret around in his groin”, Ms Monaghan told the hearing, and she said it was “offensive and undermines his dignity”.
During the incident, Mr Dos Santos can be heard on the footage saying the officers were “following me for no reason” and calling them “racist”.
He also said: “You saw black and it’s all you saw, you saw a black guy in the car. ‘Oh, let’s go after him’, that’s why I turned down that road.”
Asked if it was true that his actions towards Mr Dos Santos were “drawn whole or in part by his race”, Pc Franks replied: “No, not at all.” And when asked if Mr Dos Santos’s race or ethnicity played any factor in his decisions, he said: “No, not at all.”
Pc Franks said he first saw the driver before the Mercedes came to a stop, at a junction when he opened the door of the police van with a safety hammer in his hand, before the Mercedes turned left and the van carried on behind it.
He said: “My recollection is looking through the glass of the police carrier, the driver of the Mercedes leaned forward, looked at our carrier and has done a full left lock of steering wheel as he’s driven away.
“I could see that he was a black male at that point.”
Pc Franks said he had not known the driver’s race before that point.
He said he shouted: “Police, stop the vehicle,” but added that he could not confirm if the driver heard.
Asked what his belief was, Pc Franks replied: “At the time I believed he probably would’ve heard and probably would’ve been aware we wanted to stop his vehicle, the blue lights were activated, he’d looked towards us and seen our overt TSG van.”
Acting PS Rachel Simpson, Pc Allan Casey, Pc Jonathan Clapham, Pc Michael Bond and Pc Sam Franks deny all charges against them, which include allegations that they breached police standards over equality and diversity during the stop-and-search.
Acting PS Simpson and Pcs Clapham, Bond and Franks also face allegations that their actions amounted to a breach of professional behaviour standards in relation to the use of force.
They are said to have failed in relation to their levels of authority, respect and courtesy, as well as in their duties and responsibilities.
Pc Casey is also accused of breaching professional standards in the way he carried out his duties and responsibilities or gave orders and instructions.
It is also alleged that the honesty and integrity of Pcs Casey, Clapham, Bond and Franks breached professional behaviour standards.
The six-week hearing continues.