Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ian Tomlinson "attacked by police" report

I have gathered some eyewitnesses accounts of Ian Tomlinson's tragic death here. Yesterday the Metropolitan Police announced that he died of a heart attack. However, today the Observer reports on eyewitness accounts that the police "assaulted" him before he died.

From the Observer report:

Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: "I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed." Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.

Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit "near the head" with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.

A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. "I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he'd been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.

"He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince."

His reported behaviour before death is consistent with a bleed into the brain, but not consistent with a heart attack. A brain haemorrhage victim is dazed, and may stagger about for a few minutes. Walking about is the last thing that a heart attack victim wants to do.

Clearly, the only way is for a coroner's autopsy to be made public. I believe it is in the public domain, but will have to check on Monday. In any case, an inquest would make it public, and there must be an inquest, although we may expect the police to oppose this, as their statements about heart attacks are calculated to make headlines while the case if fresh, and that impression will remain in the public mind when the truth comes out later in the small print.

"The lie is running halfway round the world while the truth is still getting its boots on."

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