A serving police officer from London’s Metropolitan Police force has been sentenced to two years and three months in prison after breaking a Black man’s knee in what the judge called “a clear case of racial profiling.”
Charlie Harrison, 39, was sentenced Monday at Southwark Crown Court, London, for causing grievous bodily harm, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
His sentencing follows a five-day trial last month during which he was convicted by majority verdict, police added.
Harrison, who worked on the Met’s violent crime task force, was in plain clothes when he got out of his unmarked police car and approached Carl Abrahams and his two sons in Newham, east London, on December 31, 2018, according to judge Greg Perrins’ sentencing remarks seen by CNN.
Abrahams had taken his sons, 13 and 16, to visit their mother’s grave at Manor Park Cemetery and was walking home when Harrison approached and blocked their path, according to the judge’s remarks.
Abrahams told the court he was unaware that Harrison was a police officer. He pushed past him and kept walking, at which point Harrison kicked his leg, knocking him to the ground, Perrins said.
Abrahams suffered a fracture to the knee and has had to give up football and running as a result of the injury, the court documents said.
The judge said Abrahams and his sons had done nothing wrong and had not been acting suspiciously.
“Having heard the evidence at trial I strongly suspect that the reason that you stopped Mr Abrahams and his sons was because they were black,” Perrins said. “Had Mr Abrahams and his sons been white I suspect that you would simply drove on by.”
Abrahams’ sons “are fearful of the police and believe that they remain at risk of being targeted because of the colour of their skin” three years later, continue the remarks.
Police said Harrison has been suspended from duty and will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
“His actions were found to have fallen well below the standard we expect of our police officers, with a man left badly injured,” said police commander Paul Betts in the statement.
“This type of behaviour has no place in our police service and undermines the confidence of the communities we are here to protect,” Betts added.
Perrins acknowledged that Harrison’s career in the police is now over.
“I accept that this is difficult for you,” the judge said. “However, it is no one’s fault but your own.”
In 2020, UK government data showed that between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 38 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people in England and Wales, compared with four for every 1,000 White people.
And an exclusive CNN/Savanta ComRes poll found that Black people in the UK are twice as likely as White people to say they have not been treated with respect by police.