Five police officers are being investigated for misconduct over a stop and search of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams in a car this summer.
The sprinter accused the Metropolitan Police of “racial profiling” after she and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were stopped while travelling with their baby in west London in July.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it had advised five Met officers they are subject to a misconduct investigation and said the probe would examine whether the couple were treated “less favourably” because of their race.
The watchdog said the officers will be investigated for potential breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force, duties and responsibilities, and authority, respect and courtesy.
Footage of the incident in Maida Vale on July 4 was shared widely on Twitter at the time after being posted by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie.
Williams made a complaint about the incident on Twitter and the Met made a referral to the IOPC, the watchdog said.
Following the news of the investigation, Mr Dos Santos told the PA news agency: “We were given no notice by the IOPC that a decision had been made and that they would be making this public today.
“We have not had any direct contact from the IOPC or any information to understand why they are only considering misconduct and not gross misconduct. We will respond to this tomorrow.”
IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “Having analysed a range of evidence including police body worn, dashcam video and witness statements, we now have a fuller picture of the officers’ interactions with the couple and their child.
“As a result, we have taken the decision that this meets the threshold for a misconduct investigation, the allegations will now be investigated thoroughly and independently.
“It is important to note that a misconduct investigation does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow. Decisions on any further action will only be made once our investigation is complete.”
The incident was initially looked at by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, but it concluded that “at that early stage there was no indication any of the officers’ actions would amount to a breach of police standards of professional behaviour serious enough to justify disciplinary proceedings”, the force said.
Three days after the incident, on July 7, the Met recorded the matter as a public complaint after the force was tagged in Williams’ social media post, and a voluntary referral to the IOPC was made.
The watchdog said investigations in relation to the officers’ interaction with Mr Dos Santos will include the manner of some of the officers’ initial approach, handcuffing him initially and keeping him in handcuffs after he had been searched.
Regarding Williams, potential breaches of standards to be investigated include taking hold of her without first seeking her co-operation with the search, handcuffing her initially and continuing to handcuff her after she had been searched.
The IOPC said it would be considering why the vehicle was followed and stopped, whether force used in the incident was lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate, and if the search of the car was reasonable and objective.
The watchdog will also look at the accuracy of the accounts provided by the officers, and the appropriateness of the communications issued by the Met during the IOPC investigation.
The probe will also consider whether there were legitimate grounds for a so-called Merlin report to be created for their baby who was in the back of the car.
Merlin is a database run by the Met and stores information on children who have become known to the police for any reason.
The Met said the officers involved are from the territorial support group and none have been suspended or are subject to restricted duties.