Moment armed police swoop on two innocent black men in Liverpool after wrongly believing they were carrying gun as Labour MP accuses force of ‘institutional racism’ and ‘profiling’
- Police had been called out to reports of a man with a gun on Monday night
- They say they saw someone who matched his description and stopped pair
- But they were completely innocent and footage of armed arrest has sparked fury
- Liverpool’s first black MP Kim Johnson said police were ‘institutionally racist’
- Merseyside force said its officers had followed the rules and done job properly
Police who swooped on two innocent black men in Liverpool have been accused of being ‘institutionally racist’.
Footage of the incident in Toxteth shows them being stopped by officers who aimed assault rifles directly at them.
Merseyside Police say they had been called out to reports of a man carrying a gun at 9.15pm on Monday night.
They were handcuffed and searched but nothing was found and the innocent pair were released with no further action.
But critics say this is an example of the police ‘profiling and scapegoating black men’.
Liverpool’s first black MP Kim Johnson said: ‘Seeing the video of the stop, I thought I was witnessing an incident on the streets of America.
‘The firearms teams, the handcuffing of two young black men who were innocent of any offence.
‘Yet another time when “you matched the description” was used by the police to intimidate and harass Black men for being Black; yet another time Merseyside police have left young Black people scared and traumatised.
Police say they saw someone who matched his description and stopped pair on the street
Liverpool’s first black MP Kim Johnson said she thought video was of American streets at first
‘This is why I say they are institutionally racist and it is this profiling and scapegoating that needs to change, and change now.
‘I have written to the Chief Constable to ask her what action she is taking.’
But Merseyside Police has robustly defended its officers’ actions and says that they did everything by the book.
The force said it had scrutinised body worn cameras and were confident the stop and search was justified.
It added the two police officers had followed the correct training and procedures.
Superintendent Diane Pownall said: ‘Members of the public called us to report they had seen a man carrying a handgun.
Video footage shows armed police aiming guns at two young men in Toxteth after gun call
‘As with any reports of somebody being armed with a firearm, armed response officers were authorised and deployed to the area.
‘They saw two men nearby, one of whom matched the physical description of the person and was wearing clothing that matched the clothing described.
‘Again, in line with training and procedures the officers carried out an armed stop. Due to the report that a man had been seen with a firearm, handcuffs were used during the search.
‘Having viewed body worn footage of the incident we can say that officers explained to both men why they had been stopped and the reason for the search and both men were co-operative.
‘Nothing was found on either of the men and no further action was taken.
‘At the end of the search officers double checked that the men understood why the search had taken place and were advised on how to make a complaint if they felt the need to do so, but neither of the men indicated that they wished to make a complaint.
‘We understand the footage of armed officers stopping men on the street can look quite intimidating, but where we have reports of people armed with guns the safety of the public is our paramount concern.’