A police force in Bristol, England, voluntarily referred themselves to a watchdog after footage emerged showing an officer Tasering a 63-year-old black man — who happened to be the force’s race relations adviser.
A neighbour filmed the altercation between two police officers and Judah Adunbi, which occurred on Saturday January 14, after the officers mistook him for a wanted man.
In the footage, Adunbi is approached by the police officers who repeatedly ask him for his name, which he refuses to give, and he accuses them of being racist. He tries to get inside his house before being dragged back outside the gate by the two officers. One of the officers Tasers him in the face and says, “Taser, Taser, Taser. You’ve just been Tasered, alright?”
As he is lying on the ground, Adunbi asks the police officers to take him to hospital. He later said that he felt “paralysed” by the electric shock of the Taser. One of the officers proceeds to handcuff him, even as Adunbi protests and throws his wallet containing his ID on to the ground for them to check. The neighbour, identified as Tom Cherry, keeps filming throughout.
After the police officer fired the Taser, Cherry called out, “That was uncalled for and unnecessary!” One of the officers responded that “He was trying to fight us”. Cherry retorted, “He wasn’t trying to fight you, he was trying to get into his house,” and later warned, “You started it, you made physical contact first, and it’s on video.”
Adunbi told ITV News afterwards that he was humiliated by the way the police dealt with him.
“At first you don't accuse someone of being someone else. You ask questions. The first thing they should have done is come to me in a polite manner. The way they approached me – they were accusing me. That is wrong.”
The police released a statement saying that they had referred a complaint to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and wanted to be “as open and transparent as possible”. An investigation into the incident is underway. The whole incident was captured on the officers’ body-worn cameras.
Adunbi had already caught the attention of police…
in another case of mistaken identity
in another case of mistaken identity
This was not the first time that Adunbi had been falsely taken to be somebody else by police. Police said, “We can confirm that Mr Adunbi was awarded compensation following an incident in 2009. Taser was not deployed regarding this incident.”
Adunbi explained his initial reaction to the police officers’ questions, reported The Guardian: “I was just finishing my walk and coming home. Police were driving up the road and caught a glimpse of me. One of the officers came right in my face. They insisted on trying to antagonise me. I started to see red. I felt frightened and terrified because of what happened previously.”
The day after the incident, Adunbi posted photos to Facebook showing his bleeding face.
Adunbi has worked with the Crown Prosecution Service’s Community Involvement panel. He has also sat on the Independent Advisory Group for Bristol, which is a scheme designed to build trust between the police and diverse communities.
"Nothing will happen to the officers - police don't get punished for anything"
Tom Cherry, 39, is a sculptor who lives on the same road as Judah Adunbi. He was just leaving his home for work when he saw his neighbour Adunbi arguing with the police, and he was the one who filmed the incident.
Judah Adunbi lying on the ground after having been Tasered. (Screengrab from the video).
[Judah is] quite a friendly guy, we’re on friendly neighbour terms. He strikes me as being a proper Rasta. Chilled out, healthy, and looks after himself.
I thought the police were being quite aggressive. I started filming because I saw who it was they were talking to and I thought there’s no way they’ve got the right guy. I thought it was likely he was going to get arrested for nothing. They can wind you up, then they say that you’ve assaulted them and they can arrest you. I had a feeling that something was going to happen — but I was not expecting the Taser, that was a complete shock.
I can understand why he [Adunbi] reacted like that. He'd already had an issue with the police in the past. It may not be helpful, but it was entirely lawful. He wasn’t physically or verbally threatening at all, he was just non-compliant.
Afterwards more police arrived to try and keep a lid on the situation and they took him away in a police van. The police station is right on the other side of town and they ended up releasing him gone midnight, with a flat phone battery, and he had to walk home.
But I don't think anything will happen to the officers — police don’t really get punished for anything.