Police officer won't face criminal charges over ‘get off my neck’ arrest

Footage of man being pinned to the ground by officer went viral

Friday, 4th June 2021 — By Calum Fraser

Marcus Coutain

A still from the video of Marcus Coutain being arrested in Isledon Road, Finsbury Park, last July

A MET Police officer has been told he will not face prosecution over an arrest during which a man cried “get off my neck”.

Video footage of Marcus Coutain being pinned to the ground in Finsbury Park last summer went viral across the internet and led to a protest march to Islington Police Station in Tolpuddle Street.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigated the incident and found there were grounds for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to pursue a charge of assault against one of the officers.

But the CPS have decided not to take the matter further as the case did not meet their “legal test”.

Mr Coutain’s solicitor Timur Rustem said: “We are disappointed by the CPS decision not to charge the officer concerned. The manner of the arrest and the level of force used, in particular the technique used, have already been questioned.”

The arrest led to a Black Lives Matter protest march to Islington Police Station

He added: “This was made clear by the comments of the deputy commissioner following the arrest when the video footage taken by concerned members of the public was circulated on social media.”

One Met officer was suspended and another was placed on restricted duties after the arrest in Isledon Road last July.

Deputy commissioner Sir Steve House spoke out at the time saying the footage was “deeply disturbing” and that some of the techniques used were “not taught in police training” and caused him “great concern”.

Mr Coutain was charged with possession of a knife in public.

He is due to stand trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court next year.

Mr Rustem said: “If Mr Coutain’s case proceeds to trial we will certainly call the officers to answer questions on the events that occurred.

“Mr Coutain is of course very frustrated by the decisions that have been made and he feels he has been badly treated by the authorities.”

Marcus Coutain’s solicitor Timur Rustem

A spokesman for the IOPC said: “Our investigation into the use of force by Metropolitan Police Service officers during the arrest of a man in Finsbury Park last July was completed in March when it was shared with the force.

“In December we made a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider a charge of common assault against one of the officers involved.

“An appeal against the CPS decision not to charge the officer was subsequently made by the man who was arrested through the Victims’ Right to Review scheme.”

Mr Coutain’s “Victims’ Right to Review” appeal has since been rejected.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “We carefully reviewed a file of evidence referred to us by the IOPC in relation to this allegation of assault in Islington on July 16, 2020. Following full and careful consideration of the materials in the case we concluded that our legal test was not met and that no further action should be taken.

“This decision was upheld after a further review of the case under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme.”

The Tribune app­roached the Metropolitan Police Service for a comment but a spokeswoman said they would not be providing one on this occasion.

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