The lawyer for a man who was arrested as a police officer knelt on his neck – in a case that “mirrors almost identically what happened to George Floyd” – has called for a formal apology from Scotland Yard.
Marcus Coutain, 48, who is Black, was filmed pleading with officers to “get off my neck” as he was handcuffed on the pavement in Islington, north London, on Thursday evening.
The police watchdog is investigating the manner of the arrest, which has resulted in one Metropolitan Police officer being suspended and another placed on restricted duties.
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”.
Coutain appeared in custody at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Saturday afternoon charged with possessing a knife in public.
He indicated a not guilty plea and the case has been sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court on August 17.
Scotland Yard said officers were called to a fight in Isledon Road at around 6.30pm on Thursday.
Footage posted on social media on Thursday evening shows two officers holding a handcuffed black man on the pavement.
At the start of the two minute, 20 second clip, one of the officers appears to be kneeling on the man’s neck and has his hand on his head.
The man struggling on the ground can be heard shouting: “Get off me … get off my neck, I haven’t done anything wrong, get off my neck.”
The court heard Coutain matched the description of a suspect in an assault case, but Coutain’s lawyer Timur Rustem said his client was initially searched for drugs.
He said his client was subsequently told he matched the description of a “someone involved in an attack” before charges were brought for having a knife.
He told the court Coutain had the blade on him for repairing his bicycle, adding: “He had a lawful reason to have that item on him.”
Speaking outside court, Rustem said his client was “very distressed and very confused and not quite sure why he was targeted in this way”.
He told reporters: “Essentially Mr Coutain was stopped and searched for matters for which he has not been charged.
“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.”