Police accused of ‘botched’ counter-terror operation

January 16, 2014 — News

Written by Betsy Barkas

Serious concerns have been raised about the conduct of counter-terrorism officers after the CPS dropped the remaining charges against the subject of a ‘hard stop’ operation in Woolwich last June.  

Following the operation conducted by officers from SO15, the Met police’s Counter-Terrorism command, Husani Williams was arrested and charged with possession of a Class A drug (read an IRR News story, ‘Counter-terrorism policing in Woolwich’). Husani has always denied this charge, and the CPS dropped it in a court hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on 8 January. Williams and the campaign group supporting him are now demanding an inquiry into the ‘botched’ operation, which they say was ‘brutal and unnecessary’.

Youth worker Husani Williams says he was driving with his brother and two friends in Greenwich at around 6pm on 1 June 2013, when the vehicle was abruptly brought to a ‘hard stop’ by officers from SO15. Officers from SCO19, Specialist Firearms Command were reportedly also present, although no shots were fired. Officers apparently shot out the car tyres, and, according to Williams, smashed its windows and dragged him and his brother out of the car. Officers used tasers and ‘pain compliance’ techniques on the men, who say they did not resist. The Williams brothers say they were also accused of being terrorists. As a result of the head injuries sustained during the incident, Asanti Williams was taken straight to hospital.  The police told the other passengers that the car had been targeted because it was linked with an address associated with the Lee Rigby murder in Woolwich on 22 May 2013. The address in question was the residence of their cousin, a Muslim, who has not been approached by police to date.

Neither of the brothers were even questioned on any matters relating to terrorism. Husani fervently denied the possession of Class A drugs, but did admit possession of a very small amount of cannabis, and received a twelve-month conditional discharge for this offence in court last week.

He said:

‘This decision was a great relief to me, this entire criminal process has been a time of incredible stress and trauma on me and my family. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received so far and I’ll continue to demand answers and fight for justice.’

Husani is preparing to pursue a civil case against the officers, whom he claims subjected him and his brother to a ‘brutal assault’ that left them both traumatised. A complaint about the way they were treated is being investigated by the IPCC.

Husani is being supported by the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence (LCAPSV). The group has attended court in solidarity with Husani, and has helped to collect evidence from witnesses. LCAPSV supports the victims of police assault, and monitors the policing of communities, and of BME communities in particular.

Related links:

Read an IRR News story: ‘Counter-terrorism policing in Woolwich

London Campaign Against Police and State Violence

 

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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