Guardian : Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Video reveals G20 police assault on man who died

Exclusive footage obtained by the Guardian shows Ian Tomlinson, who died during G20 protests in London, was attacked from behind by baton–wielding police officer

Paul Lewis | April 7, 2009

Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows that 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 has handed a dossier of evidence to the police complaints watchdog.

It sheds new 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 (IPCC) includes a collection of testimonies from witnesses, along with the video footage, shot at around 7.20pm, 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: "The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers."

The Guardian's dossier also includes a sequence of photographs, taken by three different 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 substantiate 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 towards 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.

"So it wasn't just that the officer had pushed him – it became an assault.

"And then the officer picked him up from the back, continued to walk or charge with him, and threw him.

"He was running and stumbling. He didn't turn and confront the officer or anything like that."

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 simply described attempts by police medics and an ambulance crew to save his life after he collapsed – efforts they said were marred by protesters throwing missiles as first aid was administered .

The force said officers had created a cordon around Tomlinson to give him CPR.

"The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them," it said.

Yesterday, the IPCC began managing an investigation by City of London police into the circumstances of Tomlinson's death after the Guardian published photographs of him on the ground and witness statements indicated he had been assaulted by police officers.

The IPCC commissioner for London, Deborah Glass, said: "Initially, we had accounts from independent witnesses who were on Cornhill, who told us that there had been no contact between the police and Mr Tomlinson when he collapsed."

"However, other witnesses who saw him in the Royal Exchange area have since told us that Mr Tomlinson did have contact with police officers.

"This would have been a few minutes before he collapsed. It is important that we are able to establish as far as possible whether that contact had anything to do with his death."

The IPCC added that Tomlinson was captured on CCTV walking onto Royal Exchange Passage.

"This is the aspect of the incident that the IPCC is now investigating," it said.

It was here the video was shot. A post mortem carried out by a Home Office pathologist last Friday revealed Tomlinson died of a heart attack.

Prior to seeing the dossier of evidence, Tomlinson's family said in a statement: "There were so many people around where Ian died, and so many people with cameras, that somebody must have seen what happened in the Royal Exchange passageway.

"We need to know what happened there and whether it had anything to do with Ian's death.

"We know that some people who were at the protest may not feel comfortable talking to the police.

"People are putting pictures on the internet, writing on blogs and talking to journalists. But we really need them to talk to the people who are investigating what happened."

• The Guardian's Ian Tomlinson video is on YouTube if you wish to embed it on your website or blog.

Guardian : De Menezes taught the Met nothing

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

De Menezes taught the Met nothing

Footage of a police assault on Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demo – moments before he died – suggests their tactics are dangerously wrong

Duncan Campbell | April 7, 2009

The last thing either the government or the Metropolitan police wanted, on the day that Britain played host to the G20 leaders last week, was a death during the demonstrations being staged simultaneously in the City of London. So perhaps it should be no surprise that initially the fate of Ian Tomlinson, the man who died in the midst of the main protest close to the Bank of England, was barely noted.

Although the Guardian reported the death on its front page, almost all the coverage elsewhere ignored it completely or concentrated on a version of events that suggested that the police's only connection with Tomlinson had been to try to rescue him from a baying mob of anarchists. The police were "pelted with bottles by a screaming mob" (the Mirror) or "pelted with bottles as a medical team tried to revive a demonstrator" (Mail). Tomlinson had died "after being 'caught among the mob'" (Telegraph). The BBC TV night-time news the following day made no mention of the death in its main bulletin.

The general overview of the demonstrations in the media was either one of mockery of the protesters or the implication that the City had had a fortuitous escape from complete anarchy. The Sun reported that "foaming at the mouth and smelling of stale cider, packs of protesters lurch(ed) through the city". An occasional commentator was wheeled on to say that the police had not used tear gas or water cannon, as they would almost certainly have done in other countries. The implicit suggestion was that the protesters should be grateful that the authorities in Britain are not like, say, the neo-fascist thugs of the Genoa police who methodically battered defenceless protesters in the wake of the 2001 anti-globalisation protests in Italy. Certainly there were many good-natured police officers on the ground who tried to defuse the situation, and who were as baffled as anyone by their superiors' rigid tactics of containment, or "kettling", that caused so much confusion and tension on the day. At the same time, as many, many witnesses have reported, there were other officers hyped up for a ruckus who behaved, particularly at the Climate Camp in nearby Bishopsgate, after the cameras had departed, with the same sort of random, out of control, violence as that attributed to protesters.

Most of last week's demonstrators were not born when Kevin Gately died a few miles away in Red Lion Square in 1974. A young student from Warwickshire university, he was taking part in a demonstration against the National Front. Lord Scarman conducted an inquiry into what had happened but reached no conclusions. Five years later, schoolteacher and activist Blair Peach died in another anti-racist protest in Southall. In neither case, despite public inquiries, was the truth of what took place ever officially established. One of the problems in both those high-profile cases was that witnesses' versions of events differed dramatically and there was little in the way of objective evidence to prove what many of the demonstrators believed had happened.

We live in very different times now. One of the striking aspects of the 1 April demonstration was that, wherever you turned, someone seemed to be pointing a camera. The police were videoing from rooftops and windows, their spotters pointing out suspects. The protesters were cheerfully taking souvenir shots of themselves with mobile phones on the steps of the Bank of England. The media were there in numbers. The local CCTV cameras are also, it appears, always with us.

Some of the miles and miles of footage that was shot has now been given to the Guardian and shared across the internet. It shows Tomlinson, who was not a demonstrator but one of the many people unable to leave the melee, being thrown to the ground a few moments before he died of a heart attack. Far from the police coming under attack, at this stage Tomlinson is only cared for by a demonstrator. Do the police have their own film of what happened?

What is also striking is that, so soon after the inquest into the death of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, assumptions about a suspicious death should be so swiftly made and the official version accepted so unquestioningly. One of the Met's major problems in the wake of de Menezes was the feeling that misinformation about the circumstances of his death was allowed to linger too long in the public domain.

Of course, the police are under pressure to come up with instant information for the ever-increasing media outlets. A man has died. How? Why? Who was he? It is hardly suprising that the police's best take on the incident – that they were the subject of attack by demonstrators as they tried to save a man's life – is the one that gets passed out and then gets prime position in the coverage. But when did it become clear to the police, from their own intelligence and video footage, what had actually happened to Tomlinson?

The two lessons must be that, as always, we should never assume that the first official version of a death in suspicious circumstances is accurate. The second lesson must be that the police have now to review their tactics for future demonstrations.

A man with a weak heart died. Was he prevented from leaving a scene of mayhem, of police, mounted and in riot gear, of barking dogs and bonfires? We were meant to recall the G20 summit as the start of a new world order. It may now turn out to be a rather less glorious view of the mechanics of law and order.

Guardian : Video of police assault on Ian Tomlinson, who died at G20 protest

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Video of police assault on Ian Tomlinson, who died at G20 protest

Paul Lewis and Shehani Fernando | April 7, 2009

The Guardian obtained this footage of Ian Tomlinson at a G20 protest in London shortly before he died. It shows Tomlinson, who was not part of the demonstration, being assaulted from behind and pushed to the ground by baton-wielding police

Read the full story of Ian Tomlinson's death at the G20 protests. The Guardian's Ian Tomlinson video is also on YouTube if you wish to embed it on your website or blog

Update: Watch new ITN/C4 News footage giving a fresh angle on the attack