A mother is suing the Metropolitan Police after armed officers arrested her 12-year-old son when he was spotted playing with a toy gun in their home.
Police stormed the Agyepong household in Camden, north London on the evening of July 17 and handcuffed and detained young Kai in a police vehicle.
The officers, who were responding to a call from a member of the public claiming to have seen a black male holding a firearm, de-arrested the traumatised 12-year-old after realising the gun had been mistaken for a plastic toy pistol.
Kai’s mother Alice Mina Agyepong, 42, is now taking legal action against Scotland Yard to establish ‘to what degree the Police response to the report they received was escalated because of the colour of Kai’s skin’.
The family’s lawyer Iain Gould told MailOnline the proposed claims also include trespass, false imprisonment and assault/battery.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Ms Agyepong told how she feared for her family’s safety when armed police burst into her home and trained their rifles on her, Kai and her two daughters, aged 16 and 23.
She called the police response ‘disproportionate’ and criticised their lack of ‘professionalism’, claiming: ‘I would say that again I struggle to see how there was professionalism when actually it was a toy gun.
Alice Mina Agyepong, 42, is taking legal action against Scotland Yard after armed police arrested her 12-year-old son Kai after he was spotted playing with a toy gun in their home
Police stormed the Agyepong household in Camden, north London on the evening of July 17 and handcuffed and detained young Kai in a police vehicle
The officers, who were responding to a call from a member of the public claiming to have seen a black male holding a firearm, dearrested the traumatised 12-year-old after realising the gun had been mistaken for a plastic toy pistol
‘A toy gun in the UK – this is London, not America. There should have been more of a considered assessment based on the reports that the police received.
‘That could have been a possibility. They have intelligence, they can find out probably who lives in properties.
‘I don’t think police should be pursuing crime or trying to save members of the public at the cost of killing innocent people in their home who have done nothing wrong, cause that’s exactly what could have happened.’
The schoolboy was playing on a laptop while sat on the sofa with his mum Alice when armed officers stormed in.
A passerby claimed he had seen a black male with a gun inside their home and reported it to police.
Mina Agyepong takes legal action: solicitor Iain Gould’s statement
The family’s lawyer Iain Gould told MailOnline the proposed legal claims include discrimination trespass, false imprisonment and assault/battery
‘A male in the property was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm and taken into a police van outside the house. The other residents were escorted out of the property while a search was conducted…‘
Such is the dispassionate, almost robotic, tone of a Metropolitan Police statement made in response to a shocking incident last Friday night involving my client Alice Mina Agyepong and her young family; but sometimes ‘dispassionate’ can shade into ‘disingenuous’, for what that carefully crafted statement fails to make clear is that the ‘male’ who was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm, was in fact Mina’s 12 year old son Kai…who had been doing nothing more than playing with his toy gun in the living room of his house. The disingenuous and defensive nature of the Police statement is further reflected in the choice of words used to later describe Kai – ‘the youth’ and (inaccurately) ‘the teenager’ – words which obviously tend to convey an impression that Kai was far older than 12, perhaps a young adult rather than, as he is, a child.
It seems that a passerby telephoned the Police after peering in through the living room of the family’s home and seeing Kai playing (alone) with his plastic toy gun. The rest of the family (Mina and her two daughters) were then awoken in terrifying circumstances as armed Police stormed the house, training their – very real – firearms on Mina and her children and forcing them to march outside with their hands up, where they were detained in full view of the neighbourhood whilst Mina’s house was, in her words, ‘ransacked’ by the Police, who were doubtless hoping to find something – anything ? – that would justify such a gross and disproportionate invasion of the family’s home.
During this time, Kai, a Year 7 pupil at Maria Fidelis Catholic School was kept handcuffed in a Police vehicle before being eventually ‘de-arrested’ when the Police established that they had terrorized the family for no purpose other than to arrest a child for playing with a toy in his own home…
Major questions will need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police as to how this everyday event escalated into an armed raid, during which deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon Mina and her children. Even as it stands, with the physical force being ‘confined’ to the handcuffing of a 12 year old boy, the emotional and psychological impact cannot be underestimated. For a family to have the safety and sanctity of their home violated in such a way, is literally the stuff of nightmares.
And not least amongst the questions to be answered will be to what degree the Police response to the report they received was escalated because of the colour of Kai’s skin. Given the knowledge we already have in relation to disproportionate uses of force and Police powers generally upon black people, this is a very real concern.
I have accepted instructions to act on behalf of Mina and Kai to assist with their Police complaint, and, in due course, to commence a claim for compensation against the Police. Mina also feels, quite rightly, that people need to know about this incident so that the full spotlight of public scrutiny can be shone upon the Police. As a result, she has provided interviews to ITV, BBC and Channel 4 news.
As I have said before, media attention upon cases of suspected Police misconduct and wrongdoing is a crucial part of the power which civil society has to balance out the power of the Police, and to avert future cases of error and abuse. I am happy to be playing my part in this case, but so too is every responsible citizen who learns of the case and reflects upon it, and asks the questions which hold the Police to account.
In fact he had just been playing with a BB pellet gun in the living room.
Scared Kai had red laser guided guns aimed at him as he was nicked and put in a police car outside.
But he was de-arrested after cops realised it was just a fake gun and cops were forced to apologise.
Ms Agyepong had fallen asleep and woke up to see police holding assault rifles.
She told the Today show: ‘They did not just come to my house to make enquiries, they had rifles pointed to me and my son and my family the whole time.
‘I asked them to lower their guns cause I don’t have anything and my children are not armed and they wouldn’t.
‘They had their red laser lights aimed at my head, my children’s head, Kai’s head at all times, and at no point did they lower their guns and we was led out at gun point.
‘What they sent to my house, as in the police response, is the sort of response you’d expect for a hostage situation in public where lives were in imminent danger.
‘I struggle to find that the police have the resources to send out that level of force and response to claims from the public in the facts of what happened with my family. I don’t accept that.
‘Young black boys are in my opinion targeted by police, even stop-and-search is so much more disproportionate for people like my son Kai. And this is probably the most hardest stop-and-search you can find, guns pointing at you. I do believe it was a factor because I don’t have much else to go on.’
Writing on a blog, solicitor Iain Gould said he had accepted instructions to act on behalf of the Agyepongs ‘to assist with their Police complaint, and, in due course, to commence a claim for compensation against the Police’.
He slammed the Met’s ‘gross and disproportionate invasion of the family’s home’ and vowed to shine the ‘full spotlight of public scrutiny’ on the police.
‘Major questions will need to be answered by the Metropolitan Police as to how this everyday event escalated into an armed raid, during which deadly force could so easily and tragically have been unleashed upon Mina and her children,’ Mr Gould wrote.
‘Even as it stands, with the physical force being ‘confined’ to the handcuffing of a 12 year old boy, the emotional and psychological impact cannot be underestimated. For a family to have the safety and sanctity of their home violated in such a way, is literally the stuff of nightmares.
‘And not least amongst the questions to be answered will be to what degree the Police response to the report they received was escalated because of the colour of Kai’s skin. Given the knowledge we already have in relation to disproportionate uses of force and Police powers generally upon black people, this is a very real concern.’
Kai, a Year 7 pupils at Maria Fidelis Catholic School, is now ‘traumatised’, ‘scared’ and ‘nervous’, his mother said today.
‘[Police] have to accept also that BB guns are in circulation in the UK. They are legal, and let’s not forget that Kai wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. He was just at home, a normal 12-year-old boy, and the police burst into the house and he could have been killed,’ Ms Agyepong told the Today show.
‘He’s traumatised. He’s scared in terms of who could be at the door, because that’s now a potential. And he’s nervous. But I hope that he’ll get better, but I do know worry about how he now feels about the police.’
A spokesman for the Met Police previously said that a mandatory referral has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Commander Kyle Gordon, the Met’s lead for firearms, said: ‘There have been a number of well-publicised shootings in London in recent months where members of the public have been injured.
‘As the public would rightly expect, we take every report of a firearm seriously in order to protect our communities.
‘Officers attending reports such as this must treat them as genuine until they can verify whether or not an actual firearm is present.
‘Based on the information at hand, the officers acted in line with their training and my expectations, enabling the incident to be concluded as quickly and safely as possible.’
Commander Gordon said he had watched the body-worn video of the incident and was ‘content’ with the officers’ professionalism and how they had explained to residents what was going on.
‘The reporting member of the public was right to call us and we would encourage others who see similar weapons to do the same,’ he said. ‘We are committed to bearing down on violence and we rely on our communities to help us do this.’
He added that Kai had been immediately de-arrested as soon as officers had established the only weapon in the house was the BB gun.
Kai, a Year 7 pupils at Maria Fidelis Catholic School, is now ‘traumatised’, ‘scared’ and ‘nervous’, Alice Mina Agyepong said
Responding to Commander Gordon’s statement, Mr Gould told MailOnline: ‘There remain extremely serious questions to be answered by the Met in relation to what appears to have been a totally disproportionate use of force that put the lives of a mother and her young children in grave danger.
‘Those questions have not been answered by the Met’s latest statement, nor has that statement’s defensive tone and disingenuous use of language put my client’s mind any more at rest, or dispelled fears that racial prejudice played a significant part in this incident. Once again, the Met have chosen to misleadingly describe Kai as a ‘youth’ rather than more accurately a child, barely out of primary school.
‘Are black boys allowed to be boys (and play with toy guns in the safety – and what should be sanctity – of their own homes) or are they in the eyes of the Met always ‘youths’ with all the connotations of delinquency, troublemaking and potential threat which that particular word conveys ?
‘I will this week be inviting the Met to choose to offer early disclosure to my client of all relevant evidence in this case, including call logs and body camera evidence, in the interests of transparency and fairness and all those values Commander Kyle appears keen to trumpet the Met possess, rather than, as is routine, to hide behind the delays of data protection bureaucracy.’
Yesterday former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott angrily said that Scotland Yard’s actions did not fall in line with ‘community policing’ and followed up her comments with the Black Lives Matter hashtag on Twitter.
She tweeted: ‘How can the Met Police possibly justify arresting a 12 year old at gunpoint, handcuffing him & putting him in a police van?
‘This after dozens of armed police officers raided his home at 11.00 at night. All over a toy. Is this what they call community policing? #BlackLivesMatter’.