On the evening of July 21, IK Aihie, a black man, and Jessica McConkey, his white girlfriend, got into an argument while standing at the London Bridge train station. According to McConkey, at some point during their exchange, Aihie took ahold of her phone.
As the couple quarreled with one another, a group of nearby police officers intervened after hearing McConkey ask for her phone back from Aihie. Officers then reportedly grabbed Aihie, threw him to the ground, and covered his face in a spit hood as passing commuters looked on and recorded the altercation with their cellphones.
According to the British Transport Police, the officers restrained Aihie because he became "aggressive," but McConkey insists police were excessively violent in their treatment of her boyfriend. In video posted to Twitter, McConkey is visibly shaken and begging for the four police officers to let Aihie go.
"He's a young black boy," McConkey repeatedly says, asking more people to record the four policemen as they pin Aihie to the ground. "I'm his girlfriend. Having an argument with his girlfriend and this is what happens?"
"We wasn't shouting or screaming, they heard me asking for my phone and jumped on him as if he had stolen it. What you don't see in the video is the activity that took place before," McConkey told Ayda Mosharraf, one of the onlookers who recorded the altercation. "When we was asking why he was arrested, them refusing to tell us, and kicking him to the floor."
Following Aihie's arrest, both he and McConkey have filed complaints against the British Transport Police, who claim that the officers seen in the video restrained Aihie after he threatened to spit at them.
"Whilst being held, he made a threat that he would spit at officers who then placed a spit guard on him," a BTP spokesperson told the Guardian, adding that the organization was aware of the complaints that have been lodged against them. "This complaint is being investigated by our professional standards department to determine whether the use of force was proportionate and in line with BTP training guidelines.”