A London mother is accusing the city’s Metropolitan Police of racial profiling and using excessive force after her 13-year-old special needs son allegedly sustained multiple injuries during a knife stop-and-search. The purported knife the officers were looking for happened to be an afro comb.
According to Daily Mail, Benjamin Olajive, who has ADHD, was allegedly “strangled” during a confrontation with Metropolitan Police officers on Tuesday after someone called to report seeing a person in possession of a knife. The incident happened after Olajive alighted from his school bus at the Streatham High Road.
Olajive’s clothes and description were said to match that of the suspect. And in video footage of the incident that was shared by bystanders as well as Olajive’s mother, Zeyna Kada, multiple police officers can be seen handcuffing Olajive.
The confrontation reportedly lasted for around 45 minutes and Olajive could be heard shouting for help. Bystanders also called out the police officers and demanded they release the schoolboy. However, officers transported Olajive to the Brixton police station after he was accused of causing criminal damage by kicking a police car during the confrontation.
But Kada said her special needs son kicked the car because the officers intimidated him. She added that the officers carried out a number of “hyperflexing wrist locks” on him.
“I don’t understand the reaction an officer wanted from a 13-year-old. This kind of thing is not taught in schools. Children have seen on TV and films but they don’t know […],” Kada told Daily Mail. “These young children should be taught about the law. Most boys and girls are tall for their age now, but not every child with an afro is a criminal or has a weapon.”
Kada also said multiple people gathered at the scene of the arrest because of the officers’ actions. “In the videos, my son complied. He was patted top to bottom three times. Then, there were only two members of the public at the bus stop,” she said.
“What drew the attention was that they found nothing, what draw the attention was how they treated my son then. Why were the officers still manhandling him when they found nothing?”
The incident left Olajive with a bloodied uniform sleeve and injuries on his arms. He also allegedly sustained a swollen eye. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police claimed Olajive “physically resisted and tried to get away from the officers” after he was approached. But the schoolboy’s mother accused the Met Police of racial profiling, adding that the officers were also inconsiderate about her son’s ADHD.
“I am upset that the police said my son tried to run and said they tried to restrain him, but that is not true!” she said. “We have the initial footage, how can they say that? Why was he stopped, searched and cuffed for 45 minutes?”
Kada also said her son had not gotten into any trouble with the police prior to the incident. “He has never been involved with the police before and his first experience was negative. We have only seen it on TV and in films […],” she said. “He has never said anything nasty about the police before. He has never experienced any of this, and this has had a big negative impact on my child.”
Olajive was later released after he was taken to the police station. “It was decided that no further action would be taken in relation to the damage to the police vehicle and the boy was released into his mother’s care,” the statement from the Met Police said.
“A complaint has subsequently been received in relation to the incident. It is being assessed by the South Area Professional Standards Unit.”