A Met police commander has defended the decision of officers to arrest a 12-year-old boy seen playing with a toy gun.
The force has come under fire after a team of officers with sniffer dogs stormed the home of Kai Agyepong in Camden, north London, on the evening of July 17 after receiving a call from a member of the public who claimed to have seen a black male holding a firearm.
In reality, the weapon was a BB pellet gun that had been fitted with a blue slider to distinguish it from the real thing.
Alice Agyepong, Kai’s mother, said her son had “undoubtedly” been racially profiled and the family was left feeling “utterly violated” by the incident. She is now pursuing a complain against the Met Police, which has referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC).
The incident comes just weeks after the Met was accused of racially profiling team GB sprinter Biana Williams who was stopped and searched in Maida Vale with her partner.
But Commander Kyle Gordon, the Met’s lead for firearms, has defended his officers, saying he had watched the body-worn video of the incident and was “content” with their professionalism.
He said: “There have been a number of well-publicised shootings in London in recent months where members of the public have been injured.
“As the public would rightly expect, we take every report of a firearm seriously in order to protect our communities.
“Officers attending reports such as this must treat them as genuine until they can verify whether or not an actual firearm is present.
“Based on the information at hand, the officers acted in line with their training and my expectations, enabling the incident to be concluded as quickly and safely as possible.”
He said Agyepong had been immediately dearrested as soon as officers had established the only weapon in the house was the BB gun.
“The reporting member of the public was right to call us and we would encourage others who see similar weapons to do the same,” he added.
“We are committed to bearing down on violence and we rely on our communities to help us do this.”
But Agyepong’s mother, who also has two daughters living at home aged 16 and 23, said her son had been left traumatised by the incident, becoming anxious if she even leaves him just to nip to the shops.
“It was very, very humiliating but more than that, for me and my kids it was terrifying,” she said.
“In my mind there was no question they were going to shoot us. Their guns were drawn in such a way they were aiming their rifles at me and my kids.”
She said the Met had thrown “every single resource except a helicopter” at the incident, adding that in addition to the armed officers and dog unit, there were two vans of ordinary PCs and an ambulance.
Even after being shown the BB gun, the police still conducted a full search of the premises lasting more than an hour, she said.
The family’s solicitor Iain Gould said in a blog post the force had “major questions” to answer about the strength of its response.
“Deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon (Ms Agyepong) and her children,” he said.