A 47-year-old Sikh man and his son were held at gunpoint and handcuffed by the UK police in southern England after someone complained about hearing a gunshot – which was actually his car’s tyre blowing.
Sukhi Rayat parked his car in his yard in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Shortly after a dozen armed policemen with dogs ran into his garden, then pushed him against a wall and put him in handcuffs. “I’d been sitting in my car for a minute because I was calling the company I lease it from. As soon as I stepped out, police came out of nowhere with the dogs and rifles and everything,” Rayat was quoted as saying by the online newspaper Metro.
Rayat said that his 17-year-old son Harkeert was also rammed up against a wall and handcuffed. “I unlocked the door and the officer pointed his gun at me and told me to put my hands up. Then he grabbed me and threw me against the wall. They had me out there on the main road, being searched in handcuffs,” said Rayat, who has lived in his home since 1979.
The raid happened after someone called the police to report a gunshot coming from Rayat’s car, however, the complainant’s allegations changed three times. Rayat’s daughter Manmeet Kaur, 20, slammed police officers who ignored their request to take off their shoes before entering a special upstairs room filled with Sikh religious items and texts. “It was scary, but now I feel more anger than anything else,” she said.
A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said that officers have a duty to act on information received and any reports involving firearms are taken very seriously. She said police responded to a call from a member of the public who stated they had seen two men inside a car in Bunyan Road holding what they believed to be a firearm.
“Armed officers detained a man and entered a property before carrying out a search to ensure there were no people inside the address with a firearm,” the spokeswoman said. “We apologise for any offence caused by the search. However, our main priority is to protect both the safety of the public and the safety of our officers, and detain any person or persons who are illegally in possession of a firearm,” she added.