Police officers cleared of assaulting black man mistaken for robbery suspect

Sergeant Emily Joshi - James Manning/PA Wire
Sergeant Emily Joshi - James Manning/PA Wire

Two Metropolitan Police officers have been cleared of assaulting a black man after they claimed he was acting suspiciously.

Sergeant Emily Joshi and Pc Ozan Yelken said they mistook Emmanuel Ugborokefe for a potentially armed robbery suspect, magistrates heard.

Mr Ugborokefe said he was targeted because he was black and feared would be “killed” after being bundled to the floor and handcuffed by the officers in front of his young family.

The two officers were found not guilty of assaulting Mr Ugborokefe following a trial at City of London magistrates’ court. Sgt Joshi, of Watford, Herts, and Pc Yelken, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, had denied assault by beating on Dec 28 last year.

Officers ‘believed’ they were in danger

Giving evidence, Sgt Joshi, 30, said: “I believed I was dealing with a robbery suspect. We have had incidents where people do take their children to commit crime.”

She said robbery suspects were known to carry weapons and Mr Ugborokefe was “very obstructive and resisting and my main focus was on mine and my colleague’s safety”, adding that she thought he was a “danger to myself and my colleague”.

Pc Yelken, 33, told the court that he had an “honest-held belief that me and my colleague were in danger”, saying: “He’s a robbery suspect and could potentially pull out a weapon. I believed he could have taken out a weapon and hurt us.”

Pursuit of Rolex robbers

The court heard that Sgt Joshi and Pc Yelken were responding to sightings of two suspects of a Rolex robbery near where Mr Ugborokefe was in Hendon, north-west London.

Sgt Joshi handcuffed one of his wrists and explained he matched the description of a suspect and he repeatedly pleaded “Don’t handcuff me”, raising his free hand in the air, magistrates heard.

Mr Ugborokefe’s wife and two daughters got out of their car and were screaming as Pc Yelken pulled him to the ground where he was fully handcuffed, as back-up officers arrived to help restrain him, the court heard.

The prosecution had argued that the alleged assault did not begin when the first wrist was handcuffed, but after Mr Ugborokefe’s wife and children arrived.

By that point, they said it was clear he was not one of the suspects.