Police apologise after officers pull over black couple ‘for driving a car’
A police force has issued a public apology after two of its officers stopped a black couple and demanded they show identification because they were “driving a motor vehicle on a road”.
Ingrid Antoine-Oniyoke, 47, and her husband Falil Oniyoke, 50, said they were “made to feel like criminals” when they were stopped in Ipswich, Suffolk, on Tuesday after “glancing” at a police car parked near the house where they have been staying.
Footage of the incident has sparked outrage on social media, after one of the Suffolk Police officers who stopped them appeared to accuse the couple of “jumping on the bandwagon” of the Black Lives Matter protests.
The couple, from Watford, had been staying at Antoine-Oniyoke’s mother’s house while their own home was being renovated.
Antoine-Onikoye has told how she started recording the incident because she became fearful.
She said: “I thought ‘hold on a minute, this is reminding me of something I’ve seen on the television and that’s not going to be my husband’ so I instantly pressed the button.”
In the video, a male officer says: “At the end of the day, whether it looks funny or not, you were driving a motor vehicle on a road, so therefore I am requiring you to provide proof of drivers (licence).”
Antoine-Oniyoke tells him: “You are kidding us right now. You can see why people get upset.”
He replies: “All that I need is proof that you are the driver of that vehicle, and you live here and we are gone.”
The female officer adds: “You have turned something irate that shouldn’t be. You are just jumping on the bandwagon – that’s not okay”, in an apparent reference to recent Black Lives Matter protests.
The male officer then tells the couple “you look suspicious”, adding: “You can argue and you can say ‘why, why, why the whole time?’.”
Describing the incident afterwards, Oniyoke said: “I think I felt harassed as to the rationale behind it. Exposed, because it was open near where we live and everyone could see what was going on.
“And made to feel like a criminal, basically.”
The couple’s daughter Maja posted footage her mother had filmed of the exchange on Twitter, prompting Suffolk Police to issue an apology.
The force said: “Suffolk Constabulary is aware of the video circulating on social media involving two of our officers.
“Having looked at the issues raised by a large number of people, particularly regarding certain comments which were made on the video, we would like to apologise for the offence these have caused.
“The constabulary is very aware of the depth of feeling surrounding the events of the last few weeks and the issue of racism in our society.
“We always try to ensure we police all our communities with dignity, respect and fairness. Where those values are not met we will do everything we can to learn from that.”
Maja said relatives who live in Ipswich had told her that there is “an issue with race and the police” in the town.
“Some have even said they have had encounters with that male officer in particular,” she added.