Police chief: arrest that led to eye injury ‘appropriate’

Screen shot of Sarah Soyemi taken from her YouTube video in which she describes her encounter with London police.

London’s chief of police is standing behind his officers that were involved in the arrest of a woman who claims she was a victim of police brutality.

Sarah Soyemi, 35, was arrested by police at White Oaks Mall on May 10. According to police, she had been previously banned from the mall and did not leave when directed to do so. In a media release issued after the arrest, police said there was an altercation involving Soyemi and one of the arresting officers. Soyemi was arrested and charged with failing to leave premises when directed, resisting arrest, and assaulting a peace officer.

A week later, Soyemi released a video on her social media channels, outlining her side of the story and accusing police of brutality.


During the incident which led to her arrest, Soyemi said she attended White Oaks Mall and stood outside one of the stores to give out samples of weight loss tea and coffee products she sells. She later claims mall security asked her to leave and ended up contacting London police when she did not immediately move on.

“The police lady came [over to me],” Soyemi said in her video. “When she came, she just came out of her car, she charged at me, she tried to grab my shirt and I told her ‘do not touch me.’”

Soyemi also alleges that she managed to get out of the officer’s hold, but was then apprehended again by the officer who reportedly grabbed her by her shirt again.

“Now when she grabbed on my shirt, I pulled on her hair, because I believe in self defense,” Soyemi said. She added that she believes the officer had no reason to grab hold of her as she claims she was being peaceful ahead of her interaction with police.

She also explained in her video that the two ended up on the ground as a result of the tussle. Soyemi claims that she continued to ask the officer to get off of her and said she would only release the officer if they got off of her.

Soyemi claims two witnesses came by to assist the officer by pinning her down which allegedly left bruises on her arms before additional London police officers arrived. She said when police backup arrived, another officer approached her and “punched” her in the eye. In the videos, which were filmed several days after the incident, one of Soyemi’s eyes is swollen shut.

On Tuesday, London Police Chief Steve Williams released a statement, saying that an internal review into the incident had been completed.

“There were numerous independent witnesses to this incident and the arrest was captured on video,” the statement said. “While it is unfortunate that Ms. Soyemi was injured in this interaction, I am confident that the police response at the scene was appropriate and in accordance with police training. I would like to add my personal thanks to those citizens who provided aid at the scene, as well as those who called 9-1-1 for additional police assistance.”

Williams added that, because the matter is before the courts, police will not be making any more comments.

“I continue to ask that people withhold speculation or judgement until the facts of the matter are presented in Court,” he said.

 

**with files from Ruby Sweeney