'Arrested for being on my balcony', a young black man speaks out
- Credit: Haddy Njie
A young black Hackney man has spoken out alleging he was "wrongfully arrested" for loitering on his balcony and misusing drugs.
The incident saw 10 police officers attend and handcuff Sam Touray, 25, who was fasting for Ramadan, on April 19 at about 3pm.
He claims he was "harassed" by members of the Neighbourhood Task Force (NTF) and Borough Support Units (BSU) team in Hackney in his own building at Orchard Grove on Dalston Lane.
An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) spokesperson confirmed it's "liaising" with the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards following a complaint.
Mr Touray said: “I'm currently fasting for the holy month of Ramadan but as well as this I'm grieving the death of a dear childhood friend and neighbour who sadly passed away after being in an induced coma.
"Due to this, I decided to get some fresh air and thinking time on the balcony of my building where I was wrongfully pounced upon."
Mr Touray alleges being "forcefully handcuffed for no reason", adding: "I was accused of loitering on the balcony in the company of others and misusing drugs - namely cannabis. I am currently fasting and do not partake in the misuse of any sort of drugs or alcohol, not even cigarettes."
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A video of the arrest shows the moments after the sergeant had called for back-up and a group of police officers "swarmed the building". Neighbours watched as the scene unfolded and some started recording the incident.
In the video, Sam Touray can be heard telling officers, "I'm on my balcony. Anti-social behaviour for what?"
An onlooker off-camera adds: "He's getting arrested for being on his balcony."
He says he was searched and police found nothing on him but still handed him an anti-social behaviour (ASB) warning notice for loitering and drug misuse in the company of others, even though when handcuffed and searched, he said: "I was alone and have video evidence of this."
He added: "It was said that officers apparently gave chase to some other males who I have no connection to nor even saw but as the only young black male present, they decided to pin everything on me."
He says shortly before the incident he was downstairs reporting a repairs issue to the building's local community manager.
Mr Touray believes he should have never been placed in handcuffs and the warning should never have been issued.
The Dalston resident said: "Even though I was born and raised in a very rough area, I have never been arrested or in trouble with the law in my 25 years of life and this was made clear once they checked up my details."
“Seeing as I had nothing to do with anything they were accusing me of, they had to eventually let me go and evacuate the building," the young man continued.
"This was a complete misuse of force on their behalf and a clear case of harassment as 10 officers, with four more attending on cycles, tormented me in front of all my neighbours and the onlooking public for zero reason."
Research by University College London’s institute for global city policing released in 2020, revealed young black males in the capital were 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched than the general population.
His mother and nurse Haddy Njie had to leave work once she heard the news.
Upset by the incident, she said: "This needs to be stopped. My son was supposed to go to work today but his best friend died [the night before].
"He is grieving and they come and do this to him."
A spokesperson for the Met Police said: "Police officers on proactive patrol attended an address on Dalston Lane at around 3pm on April 19.
"A 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of possessing a knife and taken into custody. He was charged with the offence on April 20 and has been bailed to appear at Stratford Magistrates' Court on May 18.
"There were no other arrests."
They added that the The Met's Directorate of Professional Standards has received a complaint about the incident and it is being assessed.
An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we are currently liaising with the force’s Department of Professional Standards about this incident to establish how it is being handled.”
The Gazette is awaiting further comment from the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards, in regards to his official complaint filed to the police's professional standards department.