Call for Met apology after arrested man filmed pleading ‘get off my neck’
PUBLISHED: 10:32 19 July 2020
The lawyer for a man arrested as a police officer knelt on his neck - in events which “mirror exactly what happened to George Floyd” - has called for a formal apology from the Met.
Marcus Coutain, 48, was filmed pleading with officers to “get off my neck” as he was handcuffed on the pavement in Finsbury Park on Thursday evening (July 16).
The police watchdog is investigating the manner of the arrest, which has resulted in one Metropolitan Police officer being suspended and another placed on restricted duties.
Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House described the footage as “deeply disturbing” and said some of the techniques, which are “not taught in police training”, caused him “great concern”.
Coutain appeared in custody at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Saturday afternoon charged with possessing 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.
Footage posted on social media on Thursday shows two officers holding a handcuffed black man on the pavement and one appears to be kneeling on the man’s neck and has his hand on his head.
The man struggling on the ground can be heard shouting: “Get off me ... get off my neck, I haven’t done anything wrong, get off my neck.”
On Saturday protesters from Stand Up To Racism staged a demonstration against “police brutality” outside Islington Police station.
Coutain’s lawyer, Timur Rustem, told reporters outside the court: “It is the use of what I would regard as excessive force, a knee being placed on his neck ... references which mirror exactly what happened to George Floyd in America.
“A man saying ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘get your knee off my neck’, while he was already handcuffed and while he was restrained by two police officers.
“Mr Coutain will be contesting the charge against him. What I would hope to happen is that the Crown Prosecution Service properly review this case before then and drop the charges and offer a formal apology to Mr Coutain for the conduct of those Metropolitan officers.”
He said Coutain suffered “fortunately minimal” injuries to his wrists and neck, adding: “Fortunately it didn’t lead to the tragic consequences that we saw in America.”
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