Update on G20 death inquiry

The Observer reports on witness statements taken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission:

Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.

A police source told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson appears to have become caught between police lines and protesters, with officers chasing back demonstrators during skirmishes.

This possibility is supported by footage of an Al Jazeera reporter being caught in a police charge and pushed into the main body of the protestors while reporting to camera:

We’ll see what the outcome is, but speculatively it fits. If you were going home from work and suddenly got rushed by a wall of police and pushed into a milling crowd of people, you’d damn well want to know the reason why you were being detained, wouldn’t you. But the more aggressively you demanded to be allowed to leave, the more you’d look like one of the protestors, who by that point were all demanding to be let out.

The witnesses appear to offer conflicting accounts – one saying the man was hit, another that he was pushed. Both may be true, and reflect the same man involved in different incidents minutes apart, or one of the witnesses may have mistaken the identity of the man they saw.

Either way, the purpose of the IPCC gathering statements at this stage is simply to determine whether there is a need for a full investigation.

It’s therefore all the more important that the Met’s account of events continues to be publicly challenged. The police’s claim that they came under a hale of missiles has already been exploded here and here. Here are two eye-witnesses discussing the claim (h/t the Yorksher Gob):

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  • Apart from the claims that Tomlinson had been assaulted by the police shortly before he collapsed and died, I found the following statement in the report disturbing:
    An IPCC statement was due to be released the same day and is understood to have portrayed the death as a tragic accident. However, the statement’s release was postponed as the complaints body received information that police officers may have been more involved in events than previously thought.

    Why was the IPCC going to rush out a statement on Tomlinson’s death, which – given the timescale – must have relied solely on what it had been told by the police?

    Surely the whole point of the IPCC is that it investigates complaints against the police in an independent manner. A snap statement that the death was owing to natural causes could only have prejudiced any subsequent investigation.

  • If there isn’t a public enquiry about the policing at this event, then there certainly should be. The whole event seems to have been played down. Having been present at the demo, and witnessed extreme and indescriminate police violence, particularly from some individuals who couldn’t wait to batter and punch protesters. The final events at the end of the night left me fearful of what would happen to me when I left, I half expected to be put into a van and beaten, one protester had very serious bites to his arm, exposing bone and muscle, he was attacked by two police dogs simultaneously. I found myself one of the last to leave, and was told that I would be arrested if I failed to provide name and address, and submit myself to be videoed and searched. I believe every single person there was treated in a similar manner.
    Much of the violence culminated from prolonged detention and aggressive policing from the start.

  • I was at the demo and my hand was broken in nine places after being slammed by a police baton as i was unlucky enough to be at the front line of the kettle on threadneedle street.

    It sickens me to think that ians death my be brushed under the rug as im fairly sure police tactics and brutality are to blame for his death.

    Kettling is a disgusting tactic and only served to heath the tensions up and annoy protesters.

    Next time i will be bringing some northern island gloves and a cycle helmet.

  • I was there too and the police brutality was shocking. They charged at women and children and a man in a wheelchair. They battered people who were sitting down with their hands in the air…screaming ‘this is not a riot’…go to http://www.reelnews.co.uk to get a copy of the truth about G20.
    We need a public enquiry now….We are liveing in a police state. (which is why most of them had the ID numbers covered up)

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