Black couple stopped by officers for ‘driving on a road’ sparks police watchdog investigation

Samuel Osborne
·3-min read

The police watchdog has launched an investigation into a “harassment and racial profiling” complaint after a black couple were stopped while driving and questioned by officers last month.

Ingrid Antoine-Oniyoke, 47, and her husband Falil Oniyoke, 50, were told to show their IDs because they were “driving a motor vehicle on a road” when stopped by two Suffolk Police officers in Ipswich on 9 June.

They were stopped after “glancing” at a police car parked near Ms Antonie-Oniyoke’s mother’s house.

Footage of the incident was shared online and sparked outrage, with one officer apparently accusing the couple of “jumping on the bandwagon” of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Suffolk Police issued an apology after the couple’s daughter, Maja, posted the video her mother had filmed of the exchange on Twitter.

In a statement on Thursday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) noted that the couple were not searched or arrested.

“This incident has raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities,” IOPC regional director Sarah Green said.

“To ensure the police are accountable for their actions it is important we establish all of the circumstances surrounding this incident.

“We will be examining the stop, whether the actions of the officers were appropriate and proportionate, followed approved police policies and whether the officers treated the man and his partner differently because of their race.”

The watchdog said a complaint was first lodged with Suffolk Police on the day after the incident.

The footage was referred to the force’s Professional Standards Department, which in turn referred it to the IOPC on 19 June, with its subsequent independent investigation now “in its early stages”.

Suffolk Police previously apologised for the offence caused by comments recorded in the footage.

The force said it was “very aware of the depth of feeling surrounding the events of the last few weeks and the issue of racism in our society”.

It added: “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.”

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).”

Ms Antoine-Oniyoke tells him: “You are kidding us right now. You can see why people get upset.”

“All that I need is proof that you are the driver of that vehicle, and you live here and we are gone,” the officer replies.

The female officer tells them: “You have turned something irate that shouldn’t be. You are just jumping on the bandwagon – that’s not OK.”

The officer appeared to be referring to the Black Lives Matter protests.

The male officer then tells Mr Oniyoke and Ms Antoine-Oniyoke: “You look suspicious.”

He continued: “You can argue and you can say ‘why, why, why the whole time’.”

Ms Antoine-Oniyoke tells them “this is disgusting”, while her husband says “this is profiling”.

“You can laugh and shake your head as much as you want,” Ms Antoine-Oniyoke says.

The two officers only left when Mr Oniyoke showed them ID.

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