Nurse Neomi Bennett 'racially profiled' in arrest

media captionNeomi Bennett: "I was just sitting in a car, minding my own scared the life out of me"

A nurse pulled over by police who drove in front of her in a "hard stop" operation, says she was targeted because of her race.

Police officers stopped Neomi Bennett in 2019 because, they said, her front windows were tinted too dark.

She was convicted of obstructing a police officer, but prosecutors later decided not to challenge her appeal.

Ms Bennett, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to nursing, is now taking legal action.

The Metropolitan Police said it was "assessing a complaint in relation to this incident".

'Some kind of hijack'

Ms Bennett said the officers carried out a hard stop, meaning they pulled a car up in front of her to box her in, on the evening of 4 April 2019, and she refused to get out of the vehicle.

She said the manner in which she was pulled over "scared the life out of" her and, had they taken a different approach, she she might have got out of her car, but instead opted to stay inside.

At first Ms Bennett, from Wandsworth in south-west London, thought it was "some kind of hijack" because she could only see an officer in plain clothing.

She told the BBC: "I believe I was racially profiled and certainly don't think this would have happened if I were white."

The nurse, who invented the Neo-slip device to help patients with deep vein thrombosis, said she was "locked up" even though nothing illegal was found in her car and she was a "stone's throw away" from her home and family.

image captionMs Bennett was left "traumatised" by her encounter with police

Her lawyer Ann Tayo told BBC News the arrest left Ms Bennett traumatised, and her encounter with the police was a "genuine case of a woman being bewildered" before officers made "all manner of allegations".

She added this was an example of what a "disproportionate number of black British citizens" have to go through.

Ms Bennett was eventually convicted of obstructing a police officer and said the criminal record meant she lost out on some opportunities.

The 47-year-old said: "When the police approached me, I think my experience as a black person is very different to that of a white person and the fear it invokes is tremendous.

"I can't even describe the fear that I experienced on that night."

Ms Bennett said she has since appealed against and overturned her conviction, but added that many people in her community had experienced similar encounters with police.

A spokesperson for the Met said: "The South West Basic Command Unit Professional Standards (SWBCU) team is currently assessing a complaint in relation to this incident.

"Due to the complaint, we cannot go into any more detail at this time, however, Sally Benatar, SWBCU Commander, has recently been in contact with Neomi Bennett and has put her in touch with the local Independent Advisory Group chair to discuss her experiences with police."

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