Outrage over ‘dangerous’ police ram tactics used on teenage knife suspect

The scene of the incident. Pic: Tom Mcghie

Witnesses claim to have seen police use “ram” tactics on a teenage cyclist suspected of carrying a knife in Hackney on Saturday.  

An onlooker said that they saw a Metropolitan Police car chasing the cyclist into The Narrow Way on Mare Street, a busy pedestrian zone in the centre of Hackney.

A second police car was then seen speeding towards the cyclist from the opposite direction, boxing him in so that the cyclist’s only option was to swerve and slam into a shopfront.  

As many as six police officers then pinned the teenager down to search him for a knife. It is not known whether the teenager was injured.

Narrow way, where the police purportedly chased the cyclist. Pic: Tom McGhie

Police ram tactics were backed by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 in an attempt to tackle moped crime. It was not intended to be used on bicycles on pedestrian walkways.

A nearby shopkeeper, who wished to remain anonymous, saw the incident and told Eastlondonlines that although police did not deliberately hit the cyclist with their car, they were so close behind him that after hitting the shopfront he rebounded back onto their car.   

He said: “There was only about a metre of space, if that, between the car and the shop, the cyclist was in between.’ 

Raw footage of the aftermath was posted to Twitter later on Saturday night which captured tensions between police and onlookers.

The man who filmed the video wishes not to be named, but told Eastlondonlines that there were around 10 people present who claimed to see the incident unfold.

A woman in the video addresses the police, and says: “Knock him down with the car? He’s only human. He’s only human. Apprehend him. You take the knife. If you have to arrest him, you arrest him. But don’t take a car, a dangerous missile, to take him down. That is dangerous.” 

The video also captured an onlooker asking an officer whether he had any compassion for the teenager, given the controversial tactics they had used to apprehend him.

The officer said: “I’ve got compassion for every knife victim who’s wounds I’ve had to dress. I’ve got compassion for every murder victim in Hackney, and every robbery victim who’s been scared by someone who’s got a knife.” 

A tweet from an anonymous onlooker who arrived in the aftermath

One man captured on video said: “They’re acting like he’s got a bomb on him – it’s a knife.”  

The teenage cyclist involved in the incident has been linked to the arrest of a male on The Narroway for assault, drug, weapon and theft offences on Saturday night. In a tweet, Hackney Police said that the male ‘spat in the eye of a police officer’.

Hackney Police defended their actions on Twitter: ‘It is clearly captured on CCTV that no contact is made with any vehicle. The male in actual fact cycles into a shop which knocks him off his bike.’ 

Hackney Police did not respond to requests for further comment at time of publication.  

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