U.K. police officer suspended after video appears to show him kneeling on Black man's neck

The video footage went viral in the U.K. amid increasing scrutiny of police interactions with Black people, following the death of George Floyd.
Image: A demonstrator wears a protective mask during a Black Lives Matter protest near Piccadilly Circus in London, Britain
A demonstrator wears a protective mask during a Black Lives Matter protest near Piccadilly Circus in London.Henry Nicholls / Reuters file

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By Adela Suliman

LONDON — A police officer in London has been suspended after video footage emerged appearing to show him kneeling on the head and neck of a Black man.

Calling the footage "extremely disturbing," Deputy Commissioner Steve House of London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement that "some of the techniques used cause me great concern."

"They are not taught in police training," he said.

His comments came after footage of the incident was posted to social media on Friday, amid increasing scrutiny of police interactions with Black people, following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

Floyd's death sparked worldwide protests and several were held in Britain.

The protests also triggered a broader public conversation about racism and Britain's colonial past.

At the start of the video clip, one of two officers appears to kneel on the suspect's neck and has his hand on the man's head as he lies on the sidewalk.

"Get off my neck, I haven't done anything wrong, get off my neck," the suspect shouts.

"Are you going to behave yourself?" one of the officers asks, before telling the man to stay down.

NBC News was not able to independently verify the video footage or what happened before the recording began.

Police said in a statement that they were called to a fight in Islington, a neighborhood in the north of England's capital. The 45-year-old man was arrested at the scene and later charged with possession of a knife in a public place, it added. He is due to appear in court on Saturday.

House said one of the officers had been suspended and another officer "removed from operational duty, but not suspended at this time."

"This decision will be kept under review," he added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for a swift and thorough inquiry into what he described as a "distressing" incident.

"It's crucial our police service continues to earn the trust of the communities it serves," Khan said on Twitter.

The Metropolitan Police said they had referred the circumstances of the arrest, which took place on Thursday evening, for investigation to the independent police watchdog for England and Wales.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Suzanne Ciechalski contributed.