London police accused of mocking a sick trans woman in ‘brutal arrest’

Eyewitnesses claim London police officers threw a transgender woman to the ground, handcuffed her and caused deliberate pain while saying she is 'not normal'

London police accused of mocking a sick trans woman in ‘brutal arrest’
21 February 2013

A transgender woman was violently handled, abused and arrested by the police, in broad daylight in the heart of London’s gay quarter, according to eyewitnesses.

Mr Johnson and his partner Mr Shayan (who prefer to be identified only by their surname) were eyewitness to the incident, taking photos and video footage.

They told GSN that a trans woman, later identied by the police as 49 year-old Jose Dos Santos, was brutally arrested by police officers in Soho, London.

According to Johnson, the incident occurred yesterday (20 February), at 3pm directly outside Le Pain Quotidien restaurant, in Wardour Street, Soho, London.

Johnson said Dos Santos, who is thought to be of Brazilian origin, threw up food in the street after apparently feeling sick.

‘While this could be seen as out of order behavior, the police reacted with force beyond any reasonable measure,’ he complained to GSN.

‘Three huge officers violently pushed the trans in question against a window, immediately hand cuffing her with extreme force.

‘The victim then had her wig ripped from her head, her handbag and purse literally emptied out on the road, so her personal belongings were damaged and scattered around her.

‘Meanwhile police officers mocked her for her dress and having feminine items items in her handbag shouting at her: "You’re not normal! We’ll let you get you up in a few minutes but you need to act like a normal human being."

‘The humiliation continued, as the crowd gathered. She was completely restrained, cuffed and immobilised by the police, but still, they decided to throw her to the ground where her head hit the concrete first, making the worst sound – causing cuts and bleeding.

‘This gets worse… Even though her hands were cuffed behind her back and her face was pressed down on the dirty ground, one officer pulled her arms upwards to cause her immense pain, whilst the other two used their steel-toed boots to stand, with all their weight, on her shoulders and legs.

‘The trans was screaming in agony, asking: "Why? why?"

‘One officer held her arms and then twisted them violently into an even more unnatural position, clearly with intention of causing more pain and discomfort.

‘At this point, the victim was begging them to stop, clearly in absolute agony, as was the 100 plus crowd that had gathered.

‘Around 50 of us were shouting for the officers to stop the brute force and even filmed the verbal homophobic insults and violent actions of the officers. The whole fiasco lasted around 15 minutes, before the police realised the crowd were filming the attack. Two further police vans arrived, totalling 15 officers.

‘The [transgender woman] was in six inch heels and could have weighed no more that 60 kilos and was injured and handcuffed.

‘Officers literally picked her up and threw her in to the back of the third van and all three vehicles sped off, refusing to give the asking crowd the police numbers of the officers which mishandled her as they have already left the scene in a hurry.

‘Minutes after this outrageous scene, my partner and I felt angry, sick and even cried, and so did the rest of the people who were witness to this incident.

‘This poor trans was humiliated, violently assaulted and homophobically abused in broad daylight.

‘I have made an official complaint. Apparently, according to the officer that called me back today from the [Metropolitan Police], there have been scores of other complainants.’

Jerome Taylor, a reporter from The Independent has told GSN that the Metropolitan police has confirmed that the person in question, is Jose Dos Santos, a 49 year-old, was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act and appeared by virtual link in Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday where she was bailed until May.

In addition, police confirmed to GSN that ‘a complaint has been received after an incident on the afternoon of the 20 February in Soho.

‘This is being investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards’.

Speaking with GSN, Peter Tatchell, leading British LGBT rights advocate said: ‘There are serious doubts whether this arrest was justified. Unnecessary force and restraint appears to have been used. The alleged words of the police, if true, exhibit outrageous transphobia.

‘A senior officer from New Scotland Yard should be appointed to conduct an immediate investigation into the incident. I urge all eye witnesses to contact the LGBT police monitoring agency, Galop, on 020 7704 6767 and to provide Galop with written statements and audio and video recordings to establish the full facts of what happened.

‘If this incident is proven to be transphobic, it shows that police training on trans issues is clearly, for some officers, inadequate’.

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