A young writer with cerebral palsy, dyspraxia and a congenital left-sided weakness says he was humiliated when police handcuffed and searched him for looking “spaced out” and “walking with a limp”.
Charlie Hale, 28, also known as Charlie Fox, said it was “dehumanising” to be forced to explain his medical history while handcuffed in the middle of the street by officers who suspected he was in possession of drugs.
Hale was stopped and searched for “looking spaced”, “walking with a limp” and “looking to the sky”, according to a written record of the stop and search that was shared with the Guardian.
“The ignorance they displayed on neurological and physical impairments was really galling and shocking to me,” Hale said.
Hale was walking around his neighbourhood in Camberwell, south London, on Sunday 7 July when a police car pulled over and two officers stopped and handcuffed him. “They asked me why I thought they were stopping me. I jokingly said: ‘Because I had a wonky eye,’ and the female officer who apprehended me said yes in response, which obviously doesn’t feel great,” Hale said.
The police took Hale’s wallet and phone and asked if he was on drugs, Hale said. “The assumption was that there is something criminally wrong with my body,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t meet a certain benchmark of what normality is.”
The police eventually took off the handcuffs and let Hale go. “They weren’t apologetic about it, they acknowledged it in a very brisk way. The female officer said we’d let you go because you’ve got a problem. And the other officer said these are things that have been going on since you were born. It just felt like you weren’t really a person. It was degrading.”