A police watchdog says it will investigate the Metropolitan Police after a 13-year-old boy with a water pistol was rammed off his bike and arrested.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had originally allowed the force to launch its own probe, but has now reversed that decision after a statement by the boy’s mother yesterday and local community concerns.
The child was released without any further action after it became clear he was carrying a toy.
The boy, described only as ChildX, suffered soft-tissue injuries following the incident where he was surrounded by armed officers who pointed their weapons at him in Hackney, east London in July.
He had been playing with his sister when a police officer spotted the water pistol and mistook it for a real gun.
The IOPC’s announcement comes after the teenager’s mother said she felt “betrayed” by the Met.
She said her son was targeted by officers “for being black” and that they would not have treated him in the same manner had he been a “white 13-year-old boy”.
The Met has apologised to the family.
IOPC Regional Director for London Charmaine Arbouin said: “This was clearly a distressing incident for this boy, his sister and mother and it is right that the complaint is investigated.
“We don’t have the resources to investigate all complaints that are sent to us by the police so when they make a referral we decide if the force should investigate it themselves or if we should take it on.”
Ms Arbouin added when the referral came to the watchdog initially, it took into account “a number of factors” when deciding the Met should investigate the incident.
When the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) referred the complaint to the IOPC a second time, which included new allegations of race discrimination and adultification – treating a child as an adult – it still decided the probe should still remain with the force.
The regional director added: “In the light of the mother’s statement yesterday, and the concerns that have been expressed by the local community in Hackney and more widely we’ve reconsidered our decision and will now investigate this independently.
“We’ve spoken to the Met and they understand our decision to investigate this independently will enhance transparency.
“We appreciate how upsetting this has been for the family and I hope this will provide assurance to the child’s mother’s that she has been heard.
“We know that incidents like these also have an impact within policing as well as the wider community, so we will do all we can to conduct this investigation quickly and thoroughly, and will provide updates as it progresses.”
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