Thu, Apr 09, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Footage reveals G20 police assault on man who died

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows the man who died at last week’s G20 protests in London was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton-wielding police officer in riot gear.

Moments after the assault on Ian Tomlinson was captured on video, he suffered a heart attack and died.

The Guardian is preparing to hand a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog. It sheds fresh light on the events surrounding the death of the 47-year-old newspaper seller, who had been on his way home from work when he was confronted by lines of riot police near the Bank of England.

The submission to the Independent Police Complaints Commission includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the footage, shot at about 7:20pm last Wednesday, which shows Tomlinson at Royal Exchange Passage. The film reveals that as he walks, with his hands in his pockets, he does not speak to the police or offer any resistance.

A phalanx of officers, some with dogs and some in riot gear, are close behind him and try to urge him forward.

A Metropolitan police officer appears to strike him with a baton, hitting him from behind on his upper thigh.

Moments later, the same policeman rushes forward and, using both hands, pushes Tomlinson in the back and sends him flying to the ground, where he remonstrates with police who stand back, leaving bystanders to help him to his feet.

The man who shot the footage, a fund manager from New York who was in London on business, said he had attended the protests out of curiosity.

“The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers,” he said.

The Guardian’s dossier also includes a sequence of photographs, taken by three people, showing the aftermath of the attack, as well as witness statements from people in the area at the time.

A number of witnesses provided time and date-stamped photographs that substantiated their accounts.

Some said they saw police officers attack Tomlinson.

Witnesses said that, prior to the moment captured on video, he had already been hit with batons and thrown to the floor by police who blocked his route home.

One witness, Anna Branthwaite, a photographer, described how in the minutes before the video was shot, she saw Tomlinson walking toward Cornhill Street.

“A riot police officer had already grabbed him and was pushing him,” she said. “It wasn’t just pushing him — he’d rushed him. He went to the floor and he did actually roll. That was quite noticeable.”

“It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor,” she said.

The witness accounts contradict the official version of events given by police. In an official statement on the night of Tomlinson’s death, the Metropolitan police made no reference to any contact with officers and described attempts by police medics and an ambulance crew to save his life after he collapsed — efforts which they said were marred by protesters throwing missiles as first aid was administered.

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