By Calvin Palmer
A video shot by a fund manager from New York shows the man who died in 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 later Ian Tomlinson suffered a heart attack and died.
The video forms part of a dossier that The Guardian newspaper is preparing to hand to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The dossier also includes witness statements, as well as a sequence of photographs, and sheds a 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 a cordon of riot police near the Bank of England.
The fund manager, who was in London on business, attended the protest out of curiosity.
He said: “The primary reason for me coming forward is that it was clear the family were not getting any answers.”
The video footage was shot about 7:20 p.m. last Wednesday and shows Tomlinson at 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.
About 10 police officers, some of them with dogs, are walking down a street. One of them, wearing a riot helmet and high visibility jacket, approaches Tomlinson from behind and appears to strike him on the back of the legs with a baton. The officer then lunges at him, pushing him from behind, sending him crashing face down on to the pavement.
The officers then stand over Tomlinson and do not attempt to help him as he sits on the ground. He appears to try to speak to them before he is helped up by passers-by.
A number of witnesses provided time and date-stamped photographs which substantiated witness statements from people in the area at the time.
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.
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.”
In an official statement on the night of Tomlinson’s death, the Metropolitan Police made no reference to any contact with officers and described attempts by police medics and an ambulance crew to save his life after he collapsed – efforts which 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.
The video footage was branded “shocking” by one senior officer and potentially poses the first crisis for Sir Paul Stephenson since he was announced as the new Commissioner in January.
It is not clear which force the officer belongs to but there will be mounting pressure to identify the individual officer involved and possibly suspend him from duty pending an investigation by the IPCC.
On Monday, 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’s 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 into Royal Exchange Passage.
“This is the aspect of the incident that the IPCC is now investigating,” it said.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner today pledged to co-operate in full with a criminal investigation.
Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said: “My thoughts are with Mr Tomlinson’s family at this time. The images that have now been released raise obvious concerns and it is absolutely right and proper that there is a full investigation into this matter, which the Met will fully support.”
A post mortem carried out by a Home Office pathologist last Friday revealed Tomlinson died of a heart attack.
Before 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.”
[Based on reports by The Guardian , The Daily Telegraph and The Times.]