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Officer filmed kneeling on neck of 'knifeman' is under investigation for assault, Met Police reveal  | Daily Mail Online

An officer suspended after appearing to kneel on a black man's neck during an arrest is under investigation by the police watchdog for common assault and gross misconduct.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is looking into the manner of the arrest of Marcus Coutain, 48, who was filmed pleading with officers to 'get off my neck' as he was handcuffed on the pavement in Islington, north London, last month.

The arrest came just weeks after George Floyd, 36, died in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes, sparking mass protests across the world.  

Mr Coutain was subsequently charged with possessing a knife in a public place.

He has called for a formal apology from Scotland Yard and for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to drop the charge.

The IOPC said it will also 'investigate whether the officers treated the man differently because of his race'.

One Metropolitan Police officer was suspended and another placed on restricted duties over the incident on Isledon Road on July 16.

Scotland Yard deputy commissioner Sir Steve House has described the footage as 'deeply disturbing' and said some of the techniques, which are 'not taught in police training', caused him 'great concern'.

Launching a witness appeal, the IOPC said: 'One officer has been advised that they are subject to a criminal investigation for common assault and investigation for gross misconduct on use of force; authority, respect and courtesy; discreditable conduct and honesty and integrity.

'A second officer has been advised they are subject to a misconduct investigation on challenging and reporting improper conduct; authority, respect and courtesy and honesty and integrity.'

Regional director Sal Naseem said: 'We are independently examining whether the use of force and the stop and search on this occasion were appropriate and proportionate in line with approved police policies.

'We will also investigate whether the officers treated the man differently because of his race.

'This incident took place in public and was witnessed by several members of the public.

'A video of the incident has been widely shared on social media platforms.'

Witnesses are asked to call 03003035724 or email isledonroad@policeconduct.gov.uk

Mr Coutain appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court last month charged with having a knife in public.

He indicated a not guilty plea and was granted technical bail as the case was sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court on August 17 by District Judge Gillian Allison. 

A police officer is under investigation by the police watchdog for common assault and gross misconduct after he was filmed kneeling on a suspect's neck during an arrest in Islington, London

Officers were called to the scene initially after a fight in Isledon Road, Islington. They arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon, the force said. 

Inquiries continue and the Met has referred it to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

At the start of the two minute and 20 second clip, one of the officers appears to be kneeling on the suspect's neck and has his hand on his head.

The struggling man on the ground can be heard shouting 'Get off me ... get off my neck, I haven't done anything wrong, get off my neck.'

One of the police officers is heard to ask him 'Are you going to behave yourself?' before telling him to 'Stay down'.

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He then stood up and asked onlookers who were filming the incident to 'move back', while another clip showed more police officers arriving at the scene.

The situation calmed down by the time the suspect was led into a car and taken to a police station. He has since seen a doctor.  

Sir House, Met deputy commissioner, said last month: 'The video footage that I have seen today and is circulating on social media is extremely disturbing. I understand that many viewing the footage will share my concern.

'The man involved was arrested, taken to a police station and has now been seen by a police doctor.

'Some of the techniques used cause me great concern - they are not taught in police training.'

He said the decision to suspend one officer, and remove the other from operational duty, would be 'kept under review'. 

The video shows two male officers pinning a visibly-distressed man to the ground as he writhes on the concrete

'We have quickly assessed the incident, including the body worn video footage from the officers and their statements and justification for their use of force. As a result we have referred the matter to the IOPC,' he added.

'One officer has been suspended and another officer has been removed from operational duty, but not suspended at this time. This decision will be kept under review.

'We will co-operate fully with the IOPC investigation.'

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said what he saw in the video was 'an extremely concerning incident'.

He tweeted: 'It is right that it is quickly referred to the IOPC and an officer has been suspended. I will be following this closely: we are policed by consent and that relies on the highest levels of respect and professionalism.' 

The suspect shouts a series of pleas including 'get off my neck' and 'I haven't done anything wrong'

The video showed two male officers pin a visibly-distressed man to the ground as he writhed on the concrete. 

One officer had his hand pressed against the suspect's face and a knee on his neck while the other restrained his legs.

The suspect shouted a series of pleas including 'get off my neck' and 'I haven't done anything wrong'. 

Horrified witnesses urged the officers to stop and repeatedly shouted: 'That's a human being.' 

After several seconds, the officer took his knee off the suspect before telling an onlooker to 'shut it' when they criticised his use of force. 

He stood up and walked towards the crowd to order them back before the second officer eventually let the suspect sit up. 

After several seconds, the officer takes his knee off the suspect before telling an onlooker to 'shut it' when they criticise his use of force

One officer has his hand pressed against the suspect's face and a knee on his neck while the other restrains his legs

A second clip showed several more officers arriving on the scene as tension among the crowd escalated.

Witnesses urged officers arriving to 'arrest the officer' they had filmed kneeling on the suspect's neck.

A woman heard giving a statement to a constable said: 'It's okay to arrest him but don't push his head and then kneel on him. It might kill him, it might injure him.'  

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: 'Police were called by a member of the public at approximately 18.30hrs on Thursday, 16 July to reports of a fight in Isledon Road, N7.

'A man was detained by officers and arrested at the scene on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon. He remains in custody at a central London police station.

'Enquiries into the circumstances continue.

A second clip shows several more officers arriving on the scene as tension among the crowd escalates with witnesses urging those arriving on scene to 'arrest the officer'

'We are aware of a video showing part of this wider incident where two officers have detained the man on the ground and appreciate this looks very concerning. This footage has been viewed, along with body worn footage from the officers who attended. Both officers involved have also provided statements. 

'The officers' initial interaction with the man and the events that led to him being detained have also been analysed.

'Our officers carry out their duty on a daily basis across London in often difficult circumstances. Where force is used, officers must be able to justify this as lawful, proportionate and necessary.

'Our officers understand that their actions will be scrutinised as they go about their work and that the public have the right to hold them to account where appropriate.

'On this occasion we have decided to refer this incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.'