Italian film student Simona Bonomo has won an out of court settlement following being stopped whilst filming buildings in Paddington, west London under anti-terrorist legislation. She was later arrested, held in a cell for five hours and fined £80 for causing “harassment, alarm and distress.” After a dismissal of her complaint, the Met Police has been forced to reinvestigate.
In the incident that took place in November 2009, Bonomo was filming when a police community support officers Thomas Cooke, questioned her about why she was filming buildings “iconic to us” and demanded to see the footage, claiming it might be linked to terrorist activity.
Following a conversation where she discloses that she is an artist, he then asked for identification and calls her ‘cocky’ before going on to charge her with riding her bike the wrong way down a one way system. He then departed and returns shortly after with four police officers, who pushed her to the ground and arrested her with witnesses on a nearby building site who testify on video to the hostile nature of her arrest.
Speaking to the Guardian on video, Bonomo explains the aggressive force used by the police officers who arrested her and that after five hours in a cell, she was made to sign an £80 fixed penalty notice.
In court, Bonomo was found not guilty of any offence and the Crown Prosecution Service said it was unclear why she had even been arrested.
Not long after the incident Bonomo filed a complaint against the Metropolitan police officers involved but the case did not reach the hearing at the high court as the Met recently settled with her solicitor Beth Handley, agreeing to pay the 34 year old student a considerable sum.
However, the Met refused to accept liability and apologise. They have been asked to reinvestigate the complaint by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which upheld an appeal from Bonomo who expressed her concern about the handling of her complaint by the acting inspector David Pascoe, from the department of professional standards. He decided there were no grounds for her complaint without interviewing any of the officers involved.
The IPCC has stated that the student had lodged a “serious complaint” that had become part of the “global discourse on policing” after the video “became viral and has attracted national and international criticism”.
Speaking of her payout, Bonomo said: ”I am pleased with the settlement but money alone does not erase what happened and I am left with consternation that the systems in place to protect citizens from police brutality do not work.”