On May 22 last year, Musa Usuf went to the Tesco store on Savile Street in Burngreave at 10.45pm while taking a break from his duties at work. He had been fasting all day for Ramadan, and so had gone to pick up some ‘treats’ to eat as he broke his fast.
In the car park, Musa was subject to what he describes as a ‘violent assault’ at the hands of armed police, who mistook him for a wanted man.
Musa – who was unarmed and has no criminal record – believes the force used against him was excessive. However, one year on, an internal review by South Yorkshire Police has ruled that ‘reasonable force’ was used.
Musa said: “I suffered a violent assault at the Tesco supermarket car park on Saville Street, Sheffield, at the hands of South Yorkshire Armed Police.
"I followed the instructions of the armed police and during the stop I was not resisting. Yet I was dragged and slammed to the floor from the passenger side of the car and was violently kicked twice – once to my upper body and once to the face which resulted in blood gushing from my face.
“After I was assaulted and placed in handcuffs I was pulled to my feet. During this whole process I wasn’t given any indication or information as to why I was in this position.
“I was scared for my life with several guns pointing at me.”
After they had detained Musa, police officers took his details and found that they did not match with anybody they had a warrant for.
Musa says that police failed to explain this properly to him in spite of him asking them to, and they let him go without telling him what had gone on.
He took himself to A&E to have his wounds treated, and filed a police complaint the next day.
South Yorkshire Police took a year to investigate the complaint. When the force reached its conclusion, it informed Musa that the officer who detained him "complied with their responsibilities in law and there was no evidence of police misconduct”.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: "On 22 May 2020, officers conducting a pre-planned operation in connection to a series of violent assaults using weapons stopped a vehicle matching the description of that used by the suspected offender in Saville Street, Sheffield.
“On stopping the vehicle, the driver failed to comply with officers’ requests. Officers used authorised policing tactics to remove the man from the car and he was subsequently detained. During this process the man suffered a small cut to his face.
“It was quickly established the man was not the suspect officers were trying to trace. He was immediately released and the officers provided him with first aid to treat his cut before he left the scene.
“As part of our duty to keep our communities safe, police officers are lawfully permitted to use reasonable force to detain somebody they have reasonable grounds to suspect is guilty of committing a criminal offence.
“Following a thorough internal investigation into this matter, it was found that the officer involved had complied with their responsibilities in law and there was no evidence of police misconduct. We have been in touch with the man to explain this to him.”
Musa disagrees with the force’s internal review, and has requested bodycam footage of the incident which he believes will support his version of events.
He also refutes the claims he was not compliant, explaining: “When I was asked to get out of the vehicle I clearly and loudly told the armed officer pointing a gun at me from the driver’s side that the door would not open.
"He shouted to open the door for him.
"I clearly told the officer I'm going to reach for my seatbelt button once the door was open. I placed my left foot out and was exiting the car voluntarily. Overall I was clear and loud with my communication.”
Musa referred the incident and SYP investigation to the Independent Office of Police Complaints. The IOPC carried out a review and concluded that SYP’s findings were ‘reasonable and proportionate’.
An IOPC spokesperson said: “We understand this must have been a very frightening experience for the complainant, who, due to a case of mistaken identity, found himself in this situation through no fault of his own.
“Our review of South Yorkshire Police’s investigation into his complaint looked at whether the force’s findings were reasonable and proportionate.
“We considered the complainant’s view that armed officers who detained him could have taken steps to establish sooner that he was not who they were looking for.
“The officers had intelligence that the car they had stopped was used by an armed man they had been instructed to detain.
“We found they had an honestly held belief the complainant was the person they were instructed to detain and the steps taken were necessary to ensure the safety of all concerned.
“We also considered the fact the complainant was struck in the face while on the ground. The evidence we reviewed supported the officer’s explanation that he had attempted a lawful distraction strike to the complainant’s arm but missed.
“This was an extremely unfortunate accident in a difficult situation and we acknowledge that the force has accepted the circumstances should have been explained to the complainant at the time.”
Musa says he will continue to ‘fight for justice’.
He said: “I cannot believe that the South Yorkshire Armed Police think that it is acceptable to kick a citizen twice while they are flat on the floor and not resisting, and then have the audacity to say it is reasonable force.
"I have been let down by the system and have been left extremely distraught.”