LONDON—The lawyer for a Black man filmed being pinned down by a London police officer who appeared to kneel on his neck said Saturday that the force should apologize to his client, and claimed the incident “mirrors” the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Marcus Coutain was detained on a London street on Thursday and charged with carrying a knife. Video filmed by a bystander shows two officers holding the handcuffed man on the ground, and one appears to be applying pressure to the man’s neck with his knee. The officer’s hand is on the head of the man, who can be heard shouting “Get off me … get off my neck.”
During a hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court, Coutain’s lawyer, Timur Rusten, said the incident “mirrors almost identically what happened to George Floyd,” a black man who died May 25 at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Coutain, 48, indicated in court that he planned to plead not guilty. The lawyer said Coutain was carrying a knife to fix his bicycle. A further hearing was set for Aug. 17.
Police in many cities are under increased scrutiny following Floyd’s death. A police officer who held his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, Derek Chauvin, was charged with second-degree murder.
Rusten said outside court that prosecutors should drop the charge and apologize to Coutain. He said police had used “what I would regard as excessive force.”
He said Coutain suffered “fortunately minimal” injuries to his wrists and neck.
“Fortunately, it didn’t lead to the tragic consequences that we saw in America,” he said.
London’s Metropolitan Police force says one officer has been suspended and another placed on restricted duties while the arrest is investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Steve House said the footage was “extremely disturbing.”
“Some of the techniques used cause me great concern,” House said. “They are not taught in police training.”