Serious concerns are emerging about the “botched and violent” police counter-terrorist stop and subsequent arrest of a Black man in Greenwich, just over a week after the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. After Counter Terrorism police performed a ‘hard stop'(1) on the car Husani Williams’ was driving, he was arrested for possession of a Class A drug. Williams submitted a defence statement in which he denied the cocaine possession charge and the CPS took the decision this week to drop that charge. The London Campaign against Police and State Violence (2) (LCAPSV) are now demanding that SO15 (3), the Metropolitan Police Service Counter-Terrorism Command, and SO19 (4), MPS’ Specialist Firearms Command should face an independent inquiry into their “brutal and unnecessary” use of force.
On 1st June 2013, Williams was driving through Greenwich near the Woolwich Flyover. In the car with him were his brother, Asanti, and two female friends. At around 6pm, the car was brought to a ‘hard stop’ by armed officers in unmarked cars. The officers shot out the tyres, smashed the car side-windows, and proceeded to thrust their weapons into the faces of the Williams brothers. They then dragged him and the three passengers out of the car. Officers used Tasers and ‘pain compliance’ techniques on the men, who did not resist at any point. During the arrest officers accused the brothers of being terrorists, and are accused of having repeatedly racially abused them. At the time the arrest was reported in local newspapers (5).
Due to the severity of the injuries to his head, Asanti was taken to hospital on the insistence of Paramedics and no charges were made against him. The police explained that the car was targeted because it was linked with an address associated with the Lee Rigby murder. The address in question was that of Mr Williams’ cousin, a Black Muslim, who has not been approached by police to date.
Husani was charged with possession of a Class A drug, but crucially, despite the nature of the stop, was not charged with any offence relating to terrorism. A court hearing which took place in October put the trial back on a “warned list” (6) until April for unspecified reasons. In November, Husani pleaded not guilty. At a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on 8th January, the Prosecution formally offered no evidence in respect of this charge.
A complaint about the way the Williams’ brothers were treated is currently being investigated and they are also currently preparing to pursue a civil case against the Metropolitan Police.
Kojo Kyerewaa, a member of LCAPSV said:
“This was an outrageous set of events. From the brutal and unnecessary aggression during the police operation and the dubious “intelligence” which led to it, to the shambolic handling of the court case. This raises serious questions about the professionalism and integrity of these institutions of law enforcement.
The Williams’ brothers ordeal happened one week after Lee Rigby’s murder, and all evidence points to the fact that this botched and violent assault was based on tenuous intelligence if not mere speculation with extreme racist abuse. It looks very much like a racist assault by the Police, which could have resulted in the death of an innocent man.”
Husani Williams said:
“The decision to drop the charge against me was a great relief. This entire criminal process has been a time of incredible stress and trauma on me and my family. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received so far and I’ll continue to demand answers and fight for justice.”
(1) A manoeuvre also used by armed police in the deaths of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan.
(3) Counter Terrorism Command
(4) Specialist Firearms Command, http://content.met.police.uk/Site/sco19/
(5) Armed police use Hatton rounds during dramatic arrest in Woolwich Road,
Greenwich, News Shopper, 2nd June 2013,
(6) A warned list is a group of court cases that do not yet have a fixed date for a period of time.