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London police should apologize after cop knelt on man’s neck during arrest, lawyer says

2020-07-25

The lawyer for a Black man detained by a London officer who appears to kneel down on his neck in video of the arrest demanded the police force apologize to his client for the “deeply disturbing” incident.

Marcus Coutain on Thursday was taken into custody by Metropolitan police officers and charged with carrying a knife. Video filmed by a nearby witness shows a pair of cops holding the handcuffed 48-year-old on the ground, one of who appears to kneel on Coutain’s neck and apply pressure.

“Get off me ... get off my neck,” he can be heard telling officers.

During a hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, Coutain’s lawyer said the events “mirrored almost identically what happened to George Floyd,” who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt down on his neck for nearly eight minutes. Video of the deadly Memorial Day arrest sparked immediate backlash and a series of protests against police brutality across the United States.

Attorney Timur Rusten also demanded the Metropolitan Police Department issue a formal apology to Coutain, who said he would plead not guilty to the knife charge brought against him.

Rusten said Coutain was carrying a knife to fix his bicycle.

“Essentially Mr. Coutain was stopped and searched for matters for which he has not been charged. It is the use of what I would regard as excessive force, a knee being placed on his neck,” he said.

“Fortunately it didn’t lead to the tragic consequences that we saw in America.”

The Metropolitan police in a statement to BBC News said it “quickly assessed the incident” and referred it to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is conducting an investigation. The force added it would not be making additional statements on the incident.

One officer involved has been suspended and another placed on restricted duties.

A further hearing has been set for Aug. 17.

With News Wire Services