Boy, 12, arrested by armed police over toy gun
Kai Agyepong was handcuffed during a nighttime raid on his home
23 July, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby
Schoolboy Kai said the “handcuffs really hurt”
A MOTHER-of-three says her family have been left “traumatised” after armed police burst into her home at night and took her 12-year-old son away in handcuffs after he was seen with a toy gun.
Alice Mina Agyepong, 42, who lives in Medburn Street, Somers Town, was asleep in her living room just after 11pm last Friday when officers with guns and sniffer dogs raided her house.
Her son Kai had been playing on a laptop on the sofa next to her, but he roused the suspicion of a passer-by who is said to have looked through the family’s half-drawn blinds and reported seeing “a black male with a gun” to the police.
Police closed off the street and arrested Kai at gunpoint, and made the family – including Ms Agyepong’s two daughters, 16 and 23 – stand in the street for over an hour while a team searched through their possessions for the weapon. The gun was later confirmed to be a plastic pellet gun.
Ms Agyepong, who works as a housing association governance officer in Stratford, described the incident as “terrifying” and “humiliating”. She has now lodged a formal complaint.
“This is not America, it’s London”
“I’d fallen asleep and I woke up to my son opening the door and officers were pointing guns at him and he was immediately arrested,” she said.
“There must’ve been about 25 police officers, 10 armed officers with weapons with red laser lights. All I could see was police cars and lights.
“I told them almost straight away that there were no weapons in the house, only a toy gun belonging to my son but we were shouted at to put our hands above our heads and walk one by one out to the street. We were all terrified.”
The family were led to Goldington Street, which had also been closed off by police during the operation.
“That’s when I saw there were sniffer dogs, even ambulances all on standby,” she said.
“They then ransacked my home which took a while because it is three floors and we just had to stand outside on the road as my neighbours watched all the commotion. It was really humiliating.”
Kai, a Year 7 pupil at Maria Fidelis Catholic School, was eventually “de-arrested” and allowed back into his home but his mother said the ordeal has left him shaken.
Kai said: “When I opened the door they said ‘get on the floor and put your hands above your head’ and then they handcuffed me and put me in the police car. The handcuffs really hurt and I asked them to loosen them but they wouldn’t and I had marks around my wrists when I took them off.”
He added: “They arrested me for having a firearm and I told them I don’t have a gun and I’ve never seen a proper gun in real life before.” Ms Agyepong said the gun had no pellets in it.
“He’s a little boy who was sitting in his own home but he was treated like a criminal,” she said.
“He’s never been in trouble with the police but he has told me he’s been stopped and searched before when outside playing. As a young, black boy it’s just an occupational hazard really.
“There’s something wrong with society if you can be at home not breaking any laws but in a nano-second police can burst in and put you and your loved one’s lives at risk. This is not America, it’s London.”
Ms Agyepong was asleep on the sofa when someone called the police on her son
Ms Agyepong added: “I understand the police have to follow up on reports but it was excessive given that all they had was someone who reported seeing something through half-drawn blinds, then all hell broke loose, the only thing missing was tear gas and helicopters.”
Ms Agyepong said she spoke to a superintendent the next day who she said told her the level of police action was justified, adding: “He did say he was very sorry on behalf of the Met Police and mentioned stuff about Operation Trident and an increase in gun crime in the area but my son has nothing to do with whether Camden has a gun or violence problem. We feel utterly violated.”
A police spokesman said: “As is normal protocol in the circumstances, armed police were alerted and subsequently attended the address in Somers Town at around midnight.
“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. In the process of this, officers found an item which was identified as a toy ‘bb’ gun and not a firearm.”
He added: “The officers immediately de-arrested the youth and he and the other members of the family returned into their address. Following the incident a senior officer from the firearms command contacted the teenager’s mother to discuss her concerns. Public safety is always a priority for our officers. They face daily challenges making difficult and fast-time decisions while not being in possession of all the information that subsequently transpires.”
He added: “The Metropolitan Police Service takes all allegations of racism extremely seriously and is clear it has no place within the organisation. Where we need to review or investigate the conduct of individual officers we will do, as we understand this is essential for community confidence around impartiality.”
The Met said an internal review “has not identified any misconduct issues” but added there had been a “mandatory referral” to the Independent Office for Police Complaints.