Boy, 13, sentenced for beating police officers while saying ‘Black Lives Matter’

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A 13-year-old boy has been sentenced for beating two police officers while shouting “Black Lives Matter”.

The shocking attack was “completely random” and “unprovoked,” a court heard, after footage of the assault went viral on social media.

The teen admitted kicking an officer’s head, hitting and poking another officer and shouting abuse.

He said he thought he was helping another man who he saw in a headlock and was scared after everything he had seen in the news regarding the Black Lives Matter protests and allegations of police brutality towards ethnic minorities.

While the beating was taking place, the boy took a selfie of himself and the men grappling on the ground, a court heard.

He has since apologised for his actions.

Paul Kabemba, 33, Jordan Thomas, 20, and Marvin Henderson, 34, from Hackney, north east London, were also arrested after the incident, along with the 13-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons.

PC Andrew MacPherson and PC Reem Ali were attacked during the incident in Hackney on June 10, as was one member of the public.

The 13-year-old boy admitted two counts of assaulting an emergency worker by beating at an earlier hearing last month.

At Stratford Youth Court today, prosecutor Varinder Hayre said: “This was an unprovoked deliberate group attack on two serving police officers who were in uniform going about their daily duties.

“[The teen] was the fourth person to appear on the scene. He was riding a bicycle. He made no effort to assist the officer who was struggling on the floor with another man.

“The situation started to escalate. The police officer had to activate his emergency button.

“[The teen] got off his bicycle while filming the scene on his mobile telephone and kicked PC McPherson on his collar bone while he was still on the floor.

“The kick could be seen on the video, and this had been widely circulated on social media. The officer was still on the ground struggling with the four defendants.

“[The teen] jumped back out of the way and took a selfie of himself.

“PC Ali was kicked in the leg by a large male who is another defendant in this case. [The teen] kicked PC Ali on the back of her right knee causing her leg to swing forward.

“The police officers were aided by a member of the public carrying a baseball bat who tried to diffuse the situation. PC MacPherson also used a spray on the four defendants.

“His phone was seized and viewed by police. [The teen] filmed it in close up as he was filming the officer, shouting Black Lives Matter.

“PC Ali said, “look at you, you should be ashamed of yourself”.

“Whilst still filming, he shouted, ‘don’t shout at me like that. Don’t ever shout at me like that’.”

PC MacPherson suffered a bloody graze on his shoulder, suffered muscle pain in his chest and back and pain in his ribs.

PC Ali escaped without serious injury.

The court heard the teen was interviewed the following day and made full admissions to his part in the assault.

The prosecutor added: “He believed he was helping the defendant. Combined with everything that he had been seeing in the news in regards to Black Lives Matter he had been helping the defendant who had been seen in a headlock.

“[The teen] said he did kick the officer while he was on the floor and for that he was sorry.”

Ms Hayre also read out victim impact statements from the officers.

PC MacPherson said: “I won’t describe myself as upset at any point and walked away without significant injury. I find disappointment and sadness at the actions of a 13 and 20-year-old.

“They decided to assault police officers without any context or knowledge of what was happening beforehand.

“It speaks to their character. I am disappointed but not surprised by people who would rather film a video to put on social media.

“It is sad that society has become skewed in its view of policing. Police officers are judged by one of many thousands of incidents.”

He added: “If I had reacted differently, I am certain I would have been called a racist police officer. My face and name could have been all over the internet and papers. What would this have done to me?”

PC Ali said: “I was not shocked at the actions of a 13-year-old boy but I do not expect much better of my generation.

“People want five minutes of fame now and perhaps he got the five minutes of fame he wanted. I was disappointed at other people who recorded the incident rather than helping the police officer.

“The only real men in that incident were PC MacPherson and the man with the bat. That has definitely kept my faith in humanity.”

She added: “I do not feel welcome by some members of the BAME community.

“I was called a racist and evil for just doing my job. I was trying to help my colleague who was on the floor but they were shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’.

“Yes I agree black lives matter but so does mine and my colleague’s. I think it can sometimes be used to justify some people’s wrongdoing.

“It has made me more paranoid and I don’t like people pushing me from behind. I always want to provide the best service possible and represent my community in the best possible light.”

Mitigating, Stephen McCabe said the boy was acting “impulsively” and did not know what was happening at the time, incorrectly believing it to be similar to the George Floyd killing by officers in Minneapolis that sparked protests around the world.

He said: “It’s a bad case and the officers were going about their duty when they were attacked.

“He’ll be 14 in a few weeks time. He acted impulsively and didn’t know what was happening. He just got involved and started filming. He didn’t plan to go out and cause trouble with the police.

“He saw something that was happening and lost the ability to think clearly.”

He added: “When he saw this incident, he thought that it was something similar as with George Floyd happening and that’s why he got involved.

“This is a young man, he was impulsive and he feels remorse. His parents are here to support him.

“It’s taught him a very sharp lesson. He knows that these officers deal with difficult people all day long and he knows that there are very unpleasant people.

“He certainly has been watching the media, watching the events in America and that’s what flashed through his mind when he saw this happening. He feels great remorse.”

The teenager gave a letter of apology to the court, and said: “I’m sorry for my actions.

“I was surprised when [the officers] showed their emotions. I never thought of them that way. I was being selfish at the time, not thinking of others. It’s hard to be a police officer.”

Chair of the bench, Sharon Higgins, at Stratford Youth Court, responded: “Life’s about learning. It really is. When we see people in uniforms, it’s hard to look past the uniform and see the human being.”

Sentencing, she said: “You committed assault by beating of two emergency workers – that’s the police officers involved.

“This is a serious offence, there’s no getting away from that and take that into account on sentencing.

“But we do feel as a 13-year-old this has been a wake up call for you. We also acknowledge the support of your parents, they must be very worried about you and that’s something for your family to think about.

“We understand this was an impulsive action at the time and you were encouraged by an adult to get stuck in there.

“Your feelings were heightened at the time because of what was happening in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement at the time.

“We recognise your remorse and admission at the earliest possible stage.”

The court handed the teen a nine month referral order, court costs of £307 including a victim surcharge of £100 each to the police officers.

Kabemba had been charged with one count of assault on a member of the public and one count of assaulting an emergency worker.

Thomas and Henderson faced two charges of assaulting an emergency worker.

The trio of adults will face a trial at Wood Green Crown Court on July 10 after pleading not guilty at an earlier hearing.