Jordan Walker-Brown, from London, says officers stopped him because he is black
Wed 24 Jun 2020 12.50 EDT
First published on Wed 24 Jun 2020 12.14 EDT
A young black man from north London who has been left paralysed from the chest down after being shot by police with a Taser weapon as he jumped over a wall, has spoken out for the first time about his injuries and determination to hold officers to account.
Jordan Walker-Brown, who turned 24 on Monday, said he had his back to police and was running away when he was shot with a stun gun on 4 May. He said he was running because he was carrying a small amount of cannabis.
Walker-Brown, who before the incident enjoyed playing football and was in good health and active, is now paraplegic. He believes he would not have been stopped had he not been black.
He said: “I have been told that I will not be able to walk again because of what the police did to me. But I am determined to prove them wrong. Just as I am determined to prove the police are not above the law.”
He said he was stopped by Metropolitan police officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG) on two consecutive days last month, 3 and 4 May. Both times he was carrying a small amount of cannabis for personal use. He knew officers had the right to stop him if they believed him to be in possession of drugs.
“However, I also know that I would not have been the subject of any police attention – on either day – if I had not been a young black man,” he said.
“I ran from police because I had a small amount of cannabis in my possession for personal use … and I had fresh in my mind the memory of a similar encounter with TSG officers only the previous day when I was arrested, mistreated and charged for possession of a similar amount of cannabis.
“I know from my own personal experience as a young black man that I always have to be very careful and very fearful of being alone with police officers in a police van.”
On 3 May, Walker-Brown had been put into a TSG van, where he says he was mistreated, then held in a police cell for several hours and charged with possession of cannabis, before being released.
He said the following day he was in Burgoyne Road, Harringay, close to Tottenham in north London, when TSG police again spotted and followed him. He said two officers got out of their van and he started to run away.
He was jumping over a wall, which was approximately 1.2 metres (4ft) high on one side but had a 1.8 metre (6ft) drop on the other, when it is thought two officers drew their Tasers and one discharged his. Walker-Brown fell over the wall. The cause of his injuries is being investigated. He was arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to supply and taken to hospital.
The incident is under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, and the officer who discharged his Taser is subject to a criminal investigation for the alleged offence of causing grievous bodily harm.
None of the nine officers present at the incident have been suspended; the officer who discharged his Taser has been placed on restricted duties.
The IOPC investigation is understood to be examining the officers’ use of force, their handling of Jordan-Brown after the stun gun was discharged, including consideration of a possible spinal injury, and whether his ethnicity influenced the decision to stop, pursue and fire the stun gun.
Walker-Brown’s sister Sharn Brown, 28, told the Guardian: “The police appear to be trigger-happy with Tasers when it comes to black people. My brother is in hospital paralysed. Jordan has a family and I can promise the police his family will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he receives justice.”
Walker Brown’s lawyer, Raju Bhatt of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, said: “Jordan says he was slipping in and out of consciousness as he lay on the ground after his fall. He recalls that he felt a knee in his back, and his arms were then handcuffed behind his back before he was dragged to his feet, even though he was saying repeatedly that he couldn’t move his legs.”
According to Home Office figures police officers are almost eight times more likely to draw their Tasers against black people in England and Wales. Their general use rose by 39% last year.
Nearly 7,000 Met officers carry Taser stun guns. This is expected to rise to 10,000 by 2022, representing just under a third of the force.A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “The IOPC are conducting an independent investigation into the full circumstances of the incident and, as we have said from the outset, we fully support this investigation.We continue to co-operate with the IOPC’s investigation team to ensure that all the facts are established”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, Commander of the Met’s north area command unit said: “My thoughts remain with the injured man and his family. I have assured them that I am fully committed to supporting the IOPC investigation.”