Liam Joseph stepped out of the Nisa convenience store on Deptford High Street. He met his brother, Dijon, who had just ordered some food from the takeaway next door, and they tapped fists. Within seconds Dijon’s arm was grabbed by an officer from the Met’s territorial support group who said she saw them exchanging drugs.
As Dijon protested, another officer tightly cuffed his free wrist and accused him of behaving aggressively. “I’m not being aggressive … I’m a big guy,” said Dijon, who is 6ft 8in tall.
“Exactly,” the officer replied. At the same time, another officer restrained Liam, while a second rifled his pockets. Finding nothing illicit, the officer took his keys and searched his car.
The incident is now under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The Josephs, neither of whom has a history of drug-taking or violent crime, have alleged that it was a clear case of racial profiling, there were no reasonable grounds for a search, and that officers used unnecessary force. If the police are exonerated, it suggests an act as commonplace as a fist bump can justify a stop and search – at least if the suspect is black.
Dijon shared footage of the 27 February incident on Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 200,000 times. His video ends as officers, finding his girlfriend’s bank card in his wallet, arrest him for handling stolen goods.
Eventually, they were forced to release him at the scene after speaking to her on the phone. Finally, having detained the brothers for about 40 minutes, they left – with no apology, no explanation and no paperwork.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, who last year conducted a review of racial disproportionality in the justice system, said the incident was typical of the way police treat black men.