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26 Sept 2022

‘I don’t feel safe’ – Portuguese sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos on police incident

‘I don’t feel safe’ – Portuguese sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos on police incident

Portuguese sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos has said he does not feel safe driving in London after being pulled over by officers for a second time – a matter which has been referred to the police watchdog.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, the 27-year-old athlete also suggested he has recently changed to an electric “family car” in an attempt to avoid being profiled.

Mr Dos Santos was stopped in west London in the early hours of Sunday, when the Metropolitan Police said officers thought he was using his phone while driving.

The 400-metre runner posted dashcam clips of the incident on Twitter, expressing annoyance and accusing the force of over-policing due to the presence of seven armed officers.

On Tuesday, Mr Dos Santos said he continued driving for 2.4 miles after police signalled for him to pull over because he wanted to stop somewhere “safe”, “well-lit” and where there would be “people around”.

When asked what he thought the reason was behind police pulling him over more than once, Mr Dos Santos said: “I can’t tell you why.

“I’ve recently changed cars. I’ve got a family car just so I can stand out a lot less, but I guess it’s not the car, it’s the person driving the car.

“They saw me, they thought that I was on my phone, but I proved to them that I wasn’t on my phone.”

Mr Dos Santos said he had been holding his fingers to his face, and officers mistook this for him making a call.

When asked how safe he felt driving around London following the incident, he said: “I honestly don’t. I don’t feel safe at all.

“The first thing I said to myself when I saw the car was, ‘Is it going to happen?’

“And every time I do see a police car when I’m driving I think, ‘Is it going to happen this time? Will it happen this time? When is it going to happen again?’”

Mr Dos Santos said the officers’ behaviour changed when they realised he had a camera in his car, but did not specify how.

He said he would like police to “be aware of how people actually feel” when conducting searches.

The Met said the case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which is assessing the information.

Mr Dos Santos and his partner, Bianca Williams, a Team GB athlete, were previously stopped while driving with their baby in Maida Vale, west London, two years ago.

An acting police sergeant and four police constables are all facing gross misconduct disciplinary hearings over the incident, which saw the couple handcuffed and details of their baby stored on a police database.

In the latest stop, Mr Dos Santos’ footage showed a police car stopping in front of him and flashing its blue lights, after which he drove around the vehicle and pulled up some minutes later.

A second clip showed a police officer running up to Mr Dos Santos’s car door and drawing his baton, apparently preparing to smash the window.

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