London’s Metropolitan Police have shown that it isn’t just in the U.S. that suspects, especially black suspects, are subject of police brutality. Sarah Reed, a 30-year-old woman, was brutally assaulted by London Metropolitan Police officer James Kiddie. Reed was suspected of stealing items from a London store, and constable Kiddie was sent to investigate. Footage of the shocking act of police brutality was captured on the store’s security camera, and as a result Kiddie’s act of brutality, ended with him being dismissed from the police and convicted of assaulting Reed.
The security camera footage of Kiddie’s act of police brutality has been obtained by the BBC, and they report that police officer grabbed Reed by the hair and then punched her as she lay on the floor of the Uniqlo store in Regent Street, London, in 2012. Kiddie’s brutality also extended to him placing his knee on Reed’s throat as he attempted to handcuff her, and pulling her hair.
Police officer Kiddie was convicted of assaulting Reed in 2014, and was sentenced to a 150-hour community order. In his defense, the police officer claimed that a “snarling” Reed bit his finger and said she had HIV. He also claimed that he had only punched Reed at half power, as he did not want to hurt her.
The BBC reported that Reed was “described in court as a drug addict who was later convicted of shoplifting — was a ‘difficult’ and ‘aggressive’ woman who had become more aggressive when the police officer arrived.” Reed also suffered from mental health issues. Reed was later convicted of shoplifting and was imprisoned as a result.
On convicting Kiddie for his act of police brutality on Reed, judge Roscoe accepted his actions had been “an instinctive and immediate retaliation in anger.” This undoubtedly saved the police officer from a more harsh sentence.
The Metropolitan Police later dismissed Kiddie, who had served for 12 years. They revealed that Kiddie was the subject of two substantiated complaints, in 2008 for lack of courtesy and respect and in 2011 for discriminatory comments. The police officer was also to face a disciplinary hearing over a separate incident involving the discharge of CS gas at a demonstration.
Whilst the officer’s act of police brutality had sad consequences for him, Sarah Reed endured a far more tragic outcome as a result of her imprisonment. According to the U.K. Ministry of Justice, Reed was found unconscious and unresponsive in her cell at London’s Holloway women’s prison on January 11.
“Ms Reed was found unresponsive in her cell. Prison staff attempted CPR, but she was pronounced dead shortly after.
“As with all deaths in custody, the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”
The Independent reports that the circumstances surrounding Reed’s death are not yet clear, and it is not known if Kiddie’s act of police brutality had anything to do with her death. Worryingly, it seems that no public announcement about Reed’s death was made.
Black rights activist Lee Jasper published a report on his blog last night, in an attempt to “help get the truth get out there” about Reed’s death.
Lee Jasper is a prominent voice on the “Black Lives Matter” hashtag, which has sought to highlight police violence in the U.S. and was a British race relations activist and former Director of Policing and Equalities in the Greater London Authority. For many years, the Metropolitan Police has been severely criticized over race relations. The force was branded “institutionally racist” by the enquiry into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered on a London street. Police racism was blamed for the botched investigation into his murder.
Reed’s death and the lack of media attention given to her death and to police brutality in general has caused outrage among activists, who have now trended the hashtag “Sarah Reed” in an attempt to raise awareness among the mainstream media outlets.
[Photo via AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis]