Crown Prosecution Service reviews decision not to charge officers heard boasting of strangling 21-year-old black man | Friday 30 March 2012 13.29 EDT
Scotland Yard is facing a racism scandal after a black man used his mobile phone to record police officers subjecting him to a tirade of abuse in which he was told: “The problem with you is you will always be a nigger”.
The recording, obtained by the Guardian, was made by the 21-year-old after he was stopped in his car, arrested and placed in a police van the day after last summer’s riots.
The man, from Beckton, east London, said he was made to feel “like an animal” by police. He has also accused one officer of kneeling on his chest and strangling him.
In the recording, a police officer can be heard admitting he strangled the man because he was “a cunt”. Moments later, another officer – identified by investigators as PC Alex MacFarlane – subjects the man to a succession of racist insults and adds: “You’ll always have black skin. Don’t hide behind your colour.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis that three officers, including MacFarlane, may have committed criminal offences.
The CPS initially decided no charges should be brought against any of the police officers. However on Thursday, the service said it would review the file after lawyers for the man threatened to challenge the decision in a high court judicial review. MacFarlane has been suspended.
The inquiry began after the victim handed his mobile phone to a custody desk in Forest Gate police station and told officers he had been abused.
Earlier, he had been driving through Beckton with a friend when he was stopped by a van containing eight police officers from Newham borough. London’s streets were flooded with police who had been drafted in to contain the rioting.
The officers arrested the man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and told him he was being taken to a police station to be searched. After being taken into the van, the man was also arrested for missing a previous magistrates court appearance. No further action is to be taken in relation to the suspected driving offence.
It was once inside the van and handcuffed that the man said he was assaulted by police. He described having his head pushed against the van window and said one officer placed his knees on his chest and began strangling him. “I couldn’t breathe and I felt that I was going to die,” he said.
The man said he decided to turn on the recording facility of his phone after MacFarlane allegedly made sexually explicit references about his mother and telling him he would be “dead in five years”.
In the recording, the man sounds agitated; he raises his voice to complain about his treatment and in places insults the arresting officers. The verbal exchange lasts several minutes.
When the man tells an officer: “you tried to strangle me”, the officer replies: “No, I did strangle you.”