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Police argue pulling man by his dreadlocks is reasonable and lawful

Background

Shannon Jenkins, Trainee Solicitor within the Actions Against Police Department, has successfully represented a client in a claim for compensation against West Yorkshire Police.

On 22nd July 2022 officers from West Yorkshire Police were dispatched to a street where Mr Mutereko lived following a ‘concern for safety emergency’ graded call. When dispatched, officers saw nothing going on in the street and relied on Google Maps which they state took them to Mr Muterko’s residence. When officers knocked on Mr Mutereko’s door, Mr Mutereko opened the door and asked the officers why they were at his property. After officers explained that they wanted to make sure anyone present was safe and well, Mr Mutereko advised that he was the only person home and there was therefore no reason for officers to come into his property. Mr Mutereko then made efforts to close his front door which resulted in an officer putting their foot in his door. During this interaction, officers also discussed amongst each other that they could smell a strong smell of cannabis, this Mutereko explained was untrue.

Mr Mutereko, having had negative experiences with police in the past expressed that he felt harassed and gave limited information to police on this basis. During this time, information was received through the police radio that Mr Mutereko’s address was not the intended address and instead the correct address was 2 doors down. Having established this, Mr Mutereko, now growing frustrated, proceeded to attempt to close his door once more. As a result of this, one of the officers stumbled backwards causing the other officers to instinctively push their way into Mr Mutereko’s property and attempt to detain him. In detaining Mr Mutereko, one of the officers proceeded to grab on to Mr Mutereko’s dreadlocks, pulling at him and pepper spraying him. Mr Mutereko, now on the floor in pain and unable to see, was advised by the officer that he was under arrest for assaulting an emergency worker and resisting arrest. One of the officers then proceeded to call Mr Mutereko an “idiot” and a “numpty” for his behaviour. Whilst being escorted to a nearby police station, Mr Mutereko’s property was also searched in which the results were negative.

Mr Mutereko was thereafter informed that he faced no further action and subsequently raised a complaint about his experience on this occasion.

Representation

After experiencing the above, Mr Mutereko approached specialist Actions Against the Police Solicitors, Irvings Law, for assistance. Miss Jenkins immediately acknowledged that Mr Mutereko had suffered a wrongdoing. Ms Jenkins firstly took over a complaint submitted by Mr Mutereko and once concluded then sent a letter of claim to West Yorkshire Police highlighting their wrongdoing.

Outcome

After doing so, West Yorkshire Police denied liability, maintaining that Mr Mutereko’s arrest was lawful and that the force applied was reasonable in the circumstances. After West Yorkshire Police’s refusal to accept Mr Mutereko’s claim, Ms Jenkins was left with no other option but to begin the Court process and soon after taking this step because Ms Jenkins strongly believed that West Yorkshire Police had acted unlawfully, West Yorkshire Police settled Mr Mutereko’s claim for £5,000.00 plus legal costs.

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