Bristol, England, resident Judah Adunbi has spent the better half of a decade working to improve the relationship between police in southwestern England and members of the Afro-Caribbean community, the Washington Post reports.
Despite all his work and his outreach, however, the 63-year-old became the target of police earlier this month during an incident that ended with him having a Taser used on him.
The Guardian reports that Adunbi was returning to his home after walking his dog, Hazel, when officers approached him during their search for a robbery suspect.
Officers asked Adunbi’s name, but he refused to give it.
“I’ve done no wrong,” he could be heard saying in footage captured by a neighbor who filmed the incident. “Leave me alone.”
As the Post notes, Adunbi tried to demonstrate that he was just trying to mind his own business. An officer could be heard mentioning that Adunbi had keys in his hands (presumably taking that as a threat), so Adunbi put his hands above his head before clasping his arms behind his back.
However, the situation still escalated.
“I’ve asked you to remain calm,” an officer said.
“Your sergeant is going to Taser me for whatever reason,” Adunbi countered.
He then tried to go to his home, but he says that police tried to block him as he attempted to open his gate.
“I made my way towards the gate, took my keys out and went to go through. They tried to force it open, which made me release the grip I had on the gate,” he told The Guardian. “Then I heard this sound and felt something hit me below the lip. I collapsed on the ground. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t speak or move and didn’t have any strength in me. She then told me to get up.”
Adunbi had been stun by a Taser. A female officer pulled out a black-and-yellow stun gun, pulling the trigger while yelling, “Taser.”
“All right, you’re being Tasered. OK, you’re under arrest,” an officer can be heard saying in the footage.
“I knew if she fired again it would have killed me. They tried to lift me off the ground. They raised me up and leaned me up against a garage but I started to slide down. It’s a grace of God that I’m still alive. She has done a very terrible thing to me,” Adunbi told The Guardian.
He said he was taken to the hospital with the Taser still dangling from his face.
“They then removed most of the loose wires. They lifted me back on my feet. They tried to pull the one from my face off and realized they couldn’t,” he added.
The neighbor who filmed the incident, 39-year-old Tom Cherry, said that the officers’ actions were an “unjustified and disproportionate use of force.”
According to The Guardian, Adunbi was initially charged with assaulting a constable in execution of their duty and using threatening or abusing behavior or disorderly behavior likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The charges have since been dropped.
As the Post notes, in Britain, incidents concerning use of force can be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which handles the complaints and compiles data. The commission found that use of force against blacks and other minorities made up some 29 percent of its referrals over the past five years, even though those groups are a mere 14 percent of the population. The Guardian notes that black people are three times more likely to have a Taser used on them than white people.
Authorities sought to end the disparities by forming Independent Advisory Groups to improve police-community relations. Adunbi was a founding member of the Independent Advisory Group in Bristol.
“It’s a little distasteful in my mouth. To know that one of the founder members of the Independent Advisory Group which was created some years ago in order to improve the relationship between the Afro-Caribbean community and the constabulary, and to be treated like this, it’s difficult,” he said.
This is not the first time Adunbi has been involved in a case of mistaken identity. He told The Guardian that he went through a similar incident in 2007.
“We can confirm that Mr. Adunbi was awarded compensation following an incident in 2009. Taser was not deployed regarding this incident,” a police spokesperson said.