Picture of Ian Tomlinson courtesy of Jasper Jackson (I think)
First, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Mr Tomlinson's family at this dark time. I know what you are going through.
Obviously the full facts will have to wait for the coroner's inquest, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission report, but we do have some eyewitness accounts to piece together, and we should do this now to offset the distorted picture being put out by the corporate media. They have an advantage in being able to give false impressions in the heat of the moment, which are then cleared up with small print retractions and corrections later.
The Guardian has a good report:
Pictures seen by the Guardian, and corroborated by witnesses, suggest that Mr Tomlinson initially fell to the ground by a window of 11 Royal Exchange, outside the Mont Blanc shop, in front of five riot officers.
A subsequent picture shows him being lifted off the floor by a protester.
Seconds later, he is seen walking past a line of police dogs. He is believed to have collapsed again close to the junction of Birchin Lane, near a Starbucks and Office Angels.
Jackson said Mr Tomlison was then surrounded by police officers who were pelted with at least one missile.
"There were a couple of people throwing bottles in that general direction," he said. "But they were told to stop doing that by the crowd. In fact, some people in the crowd threatened to kill them if they did anything to disrupt the treatment."
Further account from the Guardian report:
"Jasper Jackson, 23, from London, who photographed Mr Tomlinson's collapse, said he had been standing in front of a line of police dog handlers minutes before he fell over. "The picture I have of him is of him stumbling in front of the protesters and in front of the police dogs looking dazed," he said. "He had a glazed look on his face. Then it was drawn to my attention that somebody shouted to the police with a loud hailer that there was a casualty and said, 'Can we get a medic?' ""
"Another witness, Fran Legg, said she and a friend had rushed to help Mr Tomlinson after they realised he was not well. "People were calling out: 'Please, we need medics over here'," said the 20-year-old student, from Tavistock, in Devon. "Someone called an ambulance." Her friend put him in the recovery position and noticed he had blood on his face and was losing consciousness.
Legg said protesters were calling for people to move back and give him space as eight police officers arrived. By the time the ambulance reached the scene 10 minutes later, Mr Tomlinson was very white and could hardly breathe."
"two demonstrators who had travelled from Manchester told how they saw paramedics attempting to resuscitate the 47-year-old.
"The officers were white as sheets," said Andy Bowman, a 24-year-old PhD student. "The blood had drained from their faces. They were giving us conflicting stories about what had happened; some of the officers were saying he had a blow to the head and some were saying he'd collapsed of a heart attack."
His friend Thomas Barlow, 26, said: "Some of the police were taking their helmets off, looking shocked.
"We were crossing the road and accidentally looked round and saw it.
"Someone called out, 'That person's hurt', and we went to have a look.
"The policemen around us tried to force us on very quickly.""
Here is another account, but it seems sketchy and emotionally charged:
"One female witness who wished to remain anonymous talked of “police brutality and heartlessness” and directly implicated members of the police force in the “murder” of the protester who, in tributes left outside the Royal Exchange in the city, was described as a “hero.”
She spoke of the “unwarranted” attack made by “masked policemen in riot gear.” After being struck in the head by a police baton she said the man was then bloodied and left unconscious on the street."
But this account is very hard to discount:
"My boss (yes, a senior manager at the bank I work at!) went over last night to see what was going on. He literally was next to the man who collapsed and died. He swears NO ONE was throwing a thing. And that the reason the police couldn't get to the guy was because the cops were using dogs against the protesters and the protesters were running away from them (towards where the guy was). Now interestingly, my boss said the guy looked about 50. The man who died went to the ground and started convulsing. So he seemed to think it was natural causes. But other than that bit, every single thing the police have said is wrong.
I will ask my boss to contact the solicitors, as he is a senior manager at the bank and a very unimpeachable source (in that the police can't say he was involved in any way or had any sympathies to the protestors - they can't just brush him off). But I won't hold my breath. He's a good man, but it may be too difficult for him to do (i.e. to stand up)".
And finally, here is Andrew Kendle's report from Red Pepper.
"A few minutes later, one of the protesters, a man in his 20s or 30s, collapsed on the pavement. The guy was totally out of it when I went to take a look at him. Protesters informed the police, and then allowed the police to carry the man back to their lines using what looked like a tarpaulin to carry him away. Twenty minutes or so later, after the police had used their dogs and more riot cops to clear Cornhill Street back up to Bishopsgate, two ambulances came up Grace Church Street and were let down Cornhill by the protesters and police to attend to the injured. I have since been able to confirm that the person who died was the one I saw".
Various participants in the City of London demonstrations on April 1st have come forward as witnesses to the collapse of a man later identified by authorities as Ian Tomlinson. Four different university students witnessed the collapse of Mr. Tomlinson. "He stumbled towards us from the direction of police and protestors and collapsed," said Peter Apps. "I saw a demonstrator who was a first aider attend to the person who had collapsed. The man was late 40s, had tattoos on his hands, and was wearing a Millwall shirt."
While the first aider was helping the man, another demonstrator with a megaphone was calling the police over so that they could help.
Natalie Langford, a student at Queen Mary, said "there was a police charge. A lot of people ran in our direction. The woman giving first aid stood in the path of the crowd." The running people, seeing a guy on the ground, went around them.
Another demonstrator had already called 999 and was getting medical advice from the ambulance dispatcher. "Four police with two police medics came. They told her [the first aider] to 'move along'.", said Peter Apps. "Then they pushed her forcibly away from him. They refused to listen to her [the first aider] when she tried to explain his condition."
The first aider, who did not wish to be named, said "The police surrounded the collapsed man. I was standing with the person who'd called 999. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to talk to the police, the phone was being held out to them, but the police refused."
Another witness, Elias Stoakes, added "we didn't see them [the police] perform CPR."
Other people who had tried to stay with the collapsed man were also pushed away.
All of the witnesses deny the allegation that many missiles were thrown.
According to Peter Apps, "one bottle was thrown, but it didn't come close to the police. Nothing was thrown afterwards as other demonstrators told the person to stop. The person who threw the bottle probably didn't realize that someone was behind the ring of police." All the witnesses said that the demonstrators were concerned for the well-being of the collapsed man once they realized that there was an injured person.
Natalie Langford said "when the ambulance arrived the protestors got straight out of the way."
These witnesses are happy to give media statements.
They can be contacted through this press liasion email: email@example.com
See video of two of the witnesses giving their statement.
Another protester, who refused to give her name, said she was with the dead man shortly before he died.
She said they were being chased by police dogs when the man in his 30s tripped and hit his head on the pavement at about 7.30pm.
She said: “Police dogs chased us all over London. We were running for about half-an-hour before the guy fell.
“We saw paramedics try to treat him. They said he was ok and he tried to get up but fell over again.”
Those are all the eyewitness accounts I have seen, collected here in one place (they are also scattered in the blogs below).
Naturally they are inconsistent, because in any crowd situation, it is difficult to see what is going on beyond your immediate vicinity, and in an adrenaline charged situation with Bob Broadbent-Copper's kettling tactics in force, it is even more difficult to make out what is going on, but the urge to try to make some kind of sense of it is irresistible.
If Ian Tomlinson was on his way back home and got caught up behind the cordon, he would naturally have gone up to the Rioting Police and demanded to be allowed to continue on his way.
The question is - did they hit him? Blood is only mentioned in one account. However, a clout on the temple need not break the skin, but can break the temporal bone, causing a sub-dural haemorrhage to collect in the subsequent minutes, and the description of Ian looking dazed, falling, being helped up, and finally collapsing is consistent with that. The nervous behaviour of the police is also consistent with that.
On the other hand, he could have fallen and hit his head when the police charged.
I stress that this is pure speculation, because we do not know if he was hit with a baton or fell because of police charge. Either way, if the autopsy finds a sub-dural, the police are going to have some explaining to do. They have the advantage of being able to get together and create a consistent account among themselves, which the courts will tend to believe rather than accounts from demonstrators. That is why it it vital that any eyewitnesses come forward. Please, please do not think "There is no point in giving evidence, the system will not listen to what I have to say". Your evidence is vital, and if enough evidence is brought to bear, the courts will have to come to the right conclusion. A man died here, and also democracy and civil liberty received a blow. Your evidence can help Ian's family to know what happened, and also can help to roll back the spectre of brutal police repression of dissent.
More here , and by clicking the "civil liberty" label below, you will get everything on this blog about and around this tragic event.