The Met police have defended officers who handcuffed and arrested a 12-year-old boy seen playing with a toy BB gun, believing it to be real.
Armed police with sniffer dogs stormed the home of Alice Agyepong and her son, Kai, in Camden, north London, on July 17 after a call from a member of the public claiming to have seen a Black male holding a firearm.
The 12-year-old boy was led away in handcuffs and detained in a police vehicle, until he was eventually dearrested after officer established that the “firearm” was in fact a BB pellet gun that had been fitted with a blue slider to distinguish it from a real gun.
On Sunday Met commander Kyle Gordon, the force’s lead for firearms, defended the actions of the officers, saying they acted in line with training.
“There have been a number of well-publicised shootings in London in recent months where members of the public have been injured,” Gordon said.
“As the public would rightly expect, we take every report of a firearm seriously in order to protect our communities.
“Officers attending reports such as this must treat them as genuine until they can verify whether or not an actual firearm is present.
“Based on the information at hand, the officers acted in line with their training and my expectations, enabling the incident to be concluded as quickly and safely as possible.”
He added he had watched the body-worn video footage of the incident and said he was “content” with the officers’ professionalism.
“The reporting member of the public was right to call us and we would encourage others who see similar weapons to do the same,” he said.
“We are committed to bearing down on violence and we rely on our communities to help us do this.”
Kai’s mother Alice said her son had “undoubtedly” been racially profiled and that her family felt “utterly violated” by the incident.
“In my mind there was no question they were going to shoot us,” Agyepong told PA news agency.
“Their guns were drawn in such a way they were aiming their rifles at me and my kids.”
She said the Met had thrown “every single resource except a helicopter” and that armed officers, dog unit, two vans of ordinary officers and an ambulance had been at the scene of the incident.
She added that even after being shown the BB toy gun, officers continued to proceed with a full search of the premises that lasted more than an hour.
“It was very, very humiliating but more than that, for me and my kids it was terrifying,” Agyepong said.
The Met has referred the incident to the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) and Kai’s mother is also pursuing a complaint against the police.