Friday, April 03, 2009

Ian Tomlinson: What happened?

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:

See video of two of the witnesses giving their statement.


Here is another account:

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.


Depressed beyond tablets said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

For example, Mr Tomlinson has already been aged as 20 or 30 or 40 or 50.

So reliability of statements is a prime consideration. The truth will come out but best not to obfuscate it with conjecture which seems designed to have only one scenario in mind. I imagine CCTV is being scoured and there should be several other films/images available.

I hope he wasn't just on his way home when he stumbled into a demo he had no part of - that seems to be particularly sad.

Unknown said...

"Why not wait and see what happened instead of talking about him as if he's some kind of third party in your big game? "

If you "wait and see what happened", you will never find out what happened.

Anonymous said...

It's seriously disturbing and seriously sickening to have this poor man being used as a pawn to justify the "anarchists" anti-police, police brutality message.

The website Indymedia in particular has some sickening headlines, already blaming police with a selection of stories: It was police boots, it was police batons, it was a police horse that trampled him, a police dog that attacked him, even the medics hit him in the recovery position, the ambulance technichians left him to die. etc. etc.

Plenty of protesters footge, film and photos of burning RBS buildings, "police brutality", windowns smashed but not one single shred of evidence to support their claims of the police being involved.

Using a dead person to roll their "smash the state" message is sickening beyond belief!

pfm said...

Statement of five eyewitnesses:

Video with two eyewitnesses:

DocRichard said...

Depressed beyond tablets said "Why not wait and see what happened instead of talking about him as if he's some kind of third party in your big game?"
(I have deleted the rest of the message because of emotionally charged language).

Well, as I said, the urge to make some sense of the data was irresistible. It is a reality test: I hypothesise a scenario, and wait to see if it is to any extent true. The media have done the same, but presented as fact, not as a guess. For instance, it was said that he had had a heart attack. The story we now have is not consistent with that, but the "dazed" look is consistent with a subdural haemorrhage. Remember, "some of the officers were saying he had a blow to the head".

So I stand by my attempt to link all the data, and we will see if I have guessed right. My conjecture will not obfuscate the facts and the CCTV, Anon.
It is much more likely that the relevant CCTV cameras will be found to be "malfunctioning" if their data is not favourable to the police story...

And it does look very much as if the poor guy was just walking home and got caught up in the police cordon.

And, Anon, despite your antipathy to "anarchists", you do have to admit that the kettling came before the violence. I have no more liking for anarchist groups than you, because we suspect that many of them are agents provocateurs.

Do not underestimate the power f the modern British State to bend the rules. Remember that the arms expert Dr David Kelly who "committed suicide" has never had a coroners inquest.
Thanks all for your comments.

Interesting times

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that it is interesting about him getting up again, I would like to add that he was seen outside the cordon and "Alleged" to walk 200 yards before collapsing again at this point he died of a "Heart Attack".

Can you please forward this information on to as they appear to be collating information.

Anonymous said...

maybe ian tomlinson is being identified as an example of extreme police brutality. it will be interesting to follow the outcome of official and not os official enquiries.

however the fact of the matter is that on the 1st and 2nd april riot policemen were responsible for unforgiveable violence and oppression. i can say this with conviction. as someone who had their frontdoor broken down on the 2nd. someone who was drageed into solitary isolation, interrogated and refused medical attention for several hours without being charged with a criminal offfence.

the outcome of the inquiries will be interesting but ultimately irrelevent. it is indisputeable that london police have used anti-terrorism law to disrupt peaceful protest and discussion and committed illegal acts of brutality.

DocRichard said...

Anonymous-who-got-arrested, I agree with everything you say except this:
"the outcome of the inquiries will be interesting but ultimately irrelevent".

They will be relevant. The authorities will do their best to frustrate, obscure, spin and downplay the facts of poor Ian's death, but it is our duty to keep them in the limelight.

It is only too easy to despair of improving the way things are, but that is what they want us to do. Democracy means simply that ultimately, political power comes from the people. That you, me, and all of us. We can make a difference, if we keep on keeping on, pressing the pressure points.

claude said...

May I just remind everybody that the police were capable of issuing an official statement which was not retracted until a week AFTER Jean Charles de Menezes was shot in July 2005- saying that de Menezes was wearing a bulky coat with wires sticking out; that he jumped the barriers as he walked into the tube station; that he was running and that he challenged the policemen before getting shot.
All of it turned out to be complete and utter bulls***.

The jury were unanimous in believing witnesses over the police so the judge at the inquest ordered them to call it an open verdict.

Stuart White said...

DocRichard: many thanks for this excellent round up of the various emerging accounts.

To the 'Anon' who suggested that you are using Ian Tomlinson as part of some anarchist game with the police: No, what is going on here is a calm effort to get at the truth. The value of knowing the truth is not important only for anarchists, but also to those of us non-anarchists who care about democratic freedoms and the acountability of those acting on behalf of the state - and most of all, of course, to Ian Tomlinson's family.

DocRichard said...

Thanks for that, Stuart. I appreciate it. We are going to need a lot of solidarity in the coming months.

Anonymous said...

The poor man was clearly just trying to get home, he didn't look too steady on his feet at the time, but no trouble he seemed to quickly realise that he had walked down the wrong street and seemed to be asking/pleading with the police to be let through before being rushed by a group of riot police, one in particular who just knocked him flying, his head hit the floor and he lay there for a few seconds just trying to take in what had just happened to him, he was helped up and stumbled past the dogs and then collapsed, police were running back to the front line relaying that " one of them has gone down". It now transpires he lived in a bail hostel so he certainly didn't want any trouble but to just get out of the area.

This is how the events leading up to his death unfolded, I have pictures of all of the above and below, the only picture I do not have is that of Ian Tomlinson being rushed by a group of riot police, this is because I was more concerned for his welfare than a picture of him, as were all the so called protestors / demonstrators. There were a few idiots who would stand about ten people back throwing PLASTIC bottles or street rubbish black sacks etc but this mainly hit the crowd not the police.

The agressors were clearly the police and they they took no prisoners, I have various pictures which show the aggression in the polices faces no exageration just fact police with their riot shield pointed out attacking whatever stood in their way, but remember these are not football hooligans just people who wanted to express their view of the world today.

What came out of the whole day is that the powers that be seem scared of this generation and what they are capable of.

At around 6.30pm the mood started to turn, the police started to section of small parts of the main group outside the bank and then filter them back behind the first line of police then they started rushing the crowd then standing their ground the plan was then quite clear they would slowly but surely push the crowd back over London Bridge, charging any side street inbetween, and that is where Ian Tomlinson was charged by a group of riot police who were assisting the police with dogs charging down the side streets, pushing the whole crowd in one direction.

I remember thinking at the time they have waited until they think that most city workers have found their diverted route home, most were told to dress down for the day so there was no way of differentiating but what they didn't realise was that it was a mix of everyone of all ages colours and nationalities.

Ian Tomlinson died from a heart attack brought on by the shock of being charged by five fully uniformed riot police, quite a shock for a man who was just trying to get home with out getting caught up in thick of it.

DocRichard said...

Anonymous above, many thanks for writing this down. You seem to be an eyewitness. Please please phone or contact the Independent Police Complaints Commission (try Chris Mathaney(?sp.) on 02071663903).

I realise that this may seem a risky business for you, as our faith in the police and the related authorities has taken a knock, and the IPCC seem to be trying to play it down. But if we do not take risks now to try to push back these worrying tactics of our police, the situation will only get worse. A few courageous witnesses now can prevent a total clampdown on free speech in a few years' time.

BTW, I will not buy the story of a heart attack until I have seen the full autopsy report. I suspect that the police are applying spin to a finding of conronary atheroma.

Good luck and thanks, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Doc Richard,

Let me reword, Ian Tomlinson collapsed and died minutes after being charged by five fully uniformed riot police.

Quite a shock for any man or woman who was just trying to get home from work.

Matt Wardman said...

Good work. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is horrible, my heart out to Ian's family.

Another attack on a civilian; the police have very weird powers in this country. They have the right to shoot an innocent in the head 6 times on the tube and murder someone walking home from work. But can't beat any one that is doing a terrible crime. Btw, the riot police look like a group of yobs with dogs!

an ex-apprentice said...

Dear Doc,

An excellent post. Well done and thank you.

DocRichard said...

Many thanks Matt and ex-apprentice and all. This incident has shown that bloggers lead and the corporate media lag behind.

Main thanks are to the demonstrators who put their bodies in the line in the cause of a sustainable and equitable economy and society.

Polar Bear said...

Dead, but no Guardian campaign for him.

During this incident, a man is pushed over and later dies of a heart attack. The man who pushed him over was trying to push him, of that there is no doubt. But he wasn’t trying to kill him. The Coroner declared that the victim died of natural causes and the perpetrator was never charged with anything even approaching manslaughter or murder.

Sound familiar?

Here is where the story changes dimension.
The national papers cover it as a factual piece, BBC News Websites give it a bit but not too much and national radio is almost silent over the issue. Almost no one howls for summary justice or a special enquiry. Do you know of this incident?

The dead man was PC Chris Roberts, the offender was Patrick Savage and it happened almost invisibly in Brinkburn Gardens, Edgware on Boxing Day 2007. At first, when initial reports flashed out on the wires that a policeman had died during an incident in London, the media ran it as “Breaking News!”. As soon as the circumstances became clear, they binned it pretty quickly.

Green Gordon said...

What are you getting at "Polar Bear"? I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Unknown said...


Stephania said...

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