British police have, in recent years, had a bit of a reputation for being trigger happy and going after, and killing, the wrong person.

The most notorious example of that occurred on 21st July 2005, two weeks after the terrorist attacks in London which killed 52 people, when cops from the Metropolitan Police gunned down innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, thinking he was a terrorist, on an underground train.

Now the Metropolitan Police, Britain's largest, and the world's oldest, police force, are at the centre of controversy again, and so too, probably, are the City of London Police (a separate force and those responsible for policing just the Square Mile).

This time it concerns a man who died during the recent G20 protests in central London, minutes after being batonned by cops.

Most British police don't carry guns, but instead carry weapons such as batons. Ian Tomlinson, a 47-year-old newspaper seller, was struck in the back of the legs by a police baton and pushed to the ground.

He was then struck twice more whilst lying on the ground before being dragged back up. Minutes later, he was lying lifeless in the streets after suffering a fatal heart attack.

It turns out that Mr Tomlinson was NOT a violent protester, merely an innocent person who just happened to walk by.

This attack, and Mr Tomlinson lying on the floor after his heart attack, was filmed by an American businessman, who sent the footage to The Guardian.

Newspaper seller who died in G20 protests 'was attacked TWICE by riot police'

By Daily Mail Reporter
08th April 2009
Daily Mail

Walking home: Video footage shows Ian Tomlinson with his hands in his pockets as he walks in front of a policeman on his way home from work

Riot police targeted the man who died at the G20 protest on two separate occasions, it was claimed this afternoon.

The newspaper seller was manhandled by an officer 15 minutes before a colleague was videoed striking the 47-year-old with his baton before shoving him to the ground, it was alleged.

Photographer Anna Branthwaite claimed Mr Tomlinson was pushed to the ground and struck twice with a baton by another officer.

He was then dragged to his feet by the policeman who continued to push him along the street, she claimed.

It was also revealed that riot officers twice charged G20 protesters trying to help the man who died after being shoved to the ground by an officer, it was claimed this afternoon.

A third-year medical student who gave first aid to Ian Tomlinson after he collapsed told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme how she stood over the stricken newspaper seller trying to protect him from rampaging police.

She told of the moment she spotted Mr Tomlinson lying in the street near the Bank of England.

The student said: 'It was almost as if he was clowning around. He smelt of alcohol and seemed happy not distressed, but as we were talking he just stopped responding.

'I had him in the recovery position and someone phoned the ambulance. They told us to put him flat on his back. I imagine they were about to tell us to do CPR but the police then charged the crowd again so I had to stand in front of him to stop him being trampled.'

The revelations come after it was revealed the policeman who appeared to strike 47-year-old with his baton before shoving him to the ground, may face criminal charges.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith called for the IPCC inquiry to be completed 'as quickly as possible' after the footage emerged of a policeman pushing Mr Tomlinson to the ground.

Ms Smith said a criminal investigation could follow if officials find evidence of illegal conduct from video footage, photographs and eyewitness accounts of events close to the Bank of England on April 1.

The IPCC is examining video shot by a passer-by during angry protests attended by more than 5,000 people during last week's summit of the world's most powerful political leaders.

It appears to show a helmeted police officer, with his face partially covered, strike Mr Tomlinson with a baton on the back of his leg before shoving him hard in the back.

The 47-year-old falls heavily to the ground, then remonstrates with officers before getting up with the help of passers-by. He walked away, apparently unhurt, but moments later collapsed and died of a heart attack.

Enlarge Closing in: A baton-wielding officer appears to push the newspaper seller as two City of London officers look on

Ms Smith said: 'What's extremely important from the events last week, from the sad death of Ian Tomlinson, is that there is an inquiry through the IPCC.

'That's what's called a managed investigation. It is being overseen by police officers. It needs to happen as quickly as possible.

'I'm glad that the IPCC themselves called for further evidence in order to be able to do that inquiry as quickly as possible.

'If it identifies the need for a criminal investigation then that also needs to be pursued.'

The footage, obtained by The Guardian newspaper, prompted Mr Tomlinson's son to demand answers from police.

Paul King, 26, said his father left work selling the Evening Standard at Monument Tube station at about 7pm but was prevented from getting home by police barricades.

But he told The Guardian: 'We want answers: why? Ian clearly had his arms in his pockets and back towards the police.

Enlarge Unsteady: Mr Tomlinson is shoved violently to the ground

'There is no need for them to step in towards him. It clearly shows that Ian did have an altercation.

'Now we can say, yes he did. Up until now it has been 'if'. But now we've seen it, we want answers.'

Sir Paul Stephenson admitted the video images 'raise obvious concerns'.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said his colleagues fully support the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) probe into the death.

He 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.'

Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth said the footage was 'sickening' and called for a full-scale criminal investigation.

'This video clearly shows an unprovoked attack by a police officer on a passer-by. It is sickening.

On the floor: He remonstrates with police before getting up and walking away

'There must be a full-scale criminal investigation. The officer concerned and the other officers shown in the video must immediately come forward,' he said.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'It would not be appropriate to comment while an IPCC investigation is ongoing.'

Labour MP David Winnick called for Ms Smith to make a full statement to the House of Commons when Members return after Easter.

Mr Winnick, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said questions will be asked about 'misleading' police statements in the hours after Mr Tomlinson's death.

In the aftermath of the death, Scotland Yard said officers surrounded Mr Tomlinson to protect him after he collapsed and were pelted with bottles by protesters.

Speaking on behalf of London Mayor Boris Johnson, a City Hall spokeswoman said: 'It is regrettable that a man has died and the Mayor extends his condolences to Ian Tomlinson's family.

No help: Six riot police stand nearby as he lies on the floor around 7.20 pm on Wednesday in Royal Exchange Square

'The video footage which has come to light is clearly disturbing and the Mayor is taking this matter very seriously.

'Kit Malthouse, deputy chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), is meeting the IPCC tomorrow to urge them to ensure a speedy and thorough investigation.'

MPA member Jenny Jones called for the officers involved in the incident to be taken off public order policing pending the outcome of the inquiry.

Ms Jones, a member of the Green Party, said containment tactics used to police protests are a threat to public safety.

She said: 'By using highly aggressive tactics to manage demonstrations, the police are discouraging the peaceful, law-abiding majority from demonstrating and therefore risking radicalising these events.

'Corralling large crowds is likely to heighten tensions and provoke a violent response. The police's primary objective at all times should be to maintain community safety.

'The management of the G20 protests clearly failed in this respect. Any officers who appear to have been involved in needlessly violent actions should be identified and taken off public order policing pending the outcome of ongoing inquiries.'

Collapse: A medic tries to revive the 47-year-old after he has a fatal heart attack

Barry Smith, who runs a newspaper store outside Monument station, paid tribute to his friend today.

Mr Smith, who knew the dead man for 26 years, said: 'He was like a brother to me. I never had a brother but he looked after me and would stand up for me.'

Mr Smith said he first met Mr Tomlinson while working as a street cleaner in London.

He said: 'He didn't work at the store but he'd just sit here and help me out.

'He left that night at 7pm and was dead at 7.30. If I had had another bundle of papers he would still be here.

'He was from Matlock originally but came to London when he was 17. He used to work as a scaffolder.

'He had a room at the Lindsey Hotel but he didn't like being indoors. He used to come here and just sit and have a smoke and have a drink.

'He liked to drink and he wasn't an angel but you see that footage and what the police did was out of order.'

Inquiry: Ian Tomlinson's son Paul King wants 'answers' from the police

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: 'These latest revelations are extremely alarming and leave big questions to be answered by the police.

'It is right that there should be an independent investigation. The inquiry must be completed quickly so that any further appropriate action can be taken.'

Shami Chakrabarti, of human rights organisation Liberty, said: 'Clear images of an armoured policeman assaulting an innocent bystander from behind impugn the whole attitude to policing protests by the Metropolitan Police.

'The IPCC failed its first major test in the (Jean Charles de) Menezes case. If the Commission is to regain a shred of public confidence it must do far better in terms of speed, sanction and transparency.'

A woman who worked at the Lindsey Hotel, who gave her name only as Isaura, said Mr Tomlinson would be sadly missed.

She said: 'He was a lovely man and we will miss him. I am very sad and my thoughts are with his family.'

She added that she believed Mr Tomlinson had moved into the hotel, in Farringdon, central London, in October last year.

A spokeswoman for the Justice4Jean Campaign, which represents the family of Mr de Menezes, questioned the nature of the inquiry.

She said: 'We know from experience that their pain at this time is only being exacerbated by the misinformation and half truths that have been circulating.

'We are concerned that the police appear to have misled the public about vital information regarding the circumstances of Ian's death and find it deeply worrying that Ian's death is not being independently investigated but rather the City of London police force is investigating the Metropolitan police.

'How can an investigation claim to be independent if police officers are investigating themselves? The notion that the Met has fully learned the lessons of the Menezes tragedy must be called into question in the way in which they have handled the aftermath of Ian Tomlinson's death.

Ian Tomlinson is taken to an ambulance following last week's clashes near the Bank of England

Heart attack: Ian Tomlinson

'The media also must shoulder some criticism for its continued unquestioning acceptance of police accounts of contentious deaths.

'Justice4Jean continues to campaign to ensure that no family has to go through what the Menezes family endured.

'We have long called for an independent inquiry into the overarching issues raised by the shooting including the ability of the IPCC to deliver justice and how the police are able to repeatedly mislead the public over contentious deaths.

'Such an inquiry is clearly needed now more than ever and we hope the Tomlinson family get the truth and justice they deserve.'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson described the video footage as 'disturbing' but refused to comment in detail.

'I find it very disturbing,' he said. 'It seems to be a very disturbing series of images but I really think the best thing I can possibly say and do is await the outcome of the Independent Police Complaints Commission process.'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World At One, he added: 'I understand the concerns.

All I would say is that I don't want to get drawn into the operational detail about the tactics the police have used.

'On the sad, the tragic death of Mr Tomlinson I think best thing would be if I joined everybody else in awaiting the outcome of the IPCC report.'

Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 8th, 2009 at 10:31 AM..