Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Telling evidence caught on camera - and a message of support for family

IAN TOMLINSON, who died near the Bank of England as the police launched their assault on G20 protesters, was attacked by the police before he collapsed with a heart attack. Video footage, taken not by a news camera person nor a demonstrator, but a New York funds manager in London on business, shows Mr.Tomlinson, a news vendor, being attacked from behind by baton-wielding police in riot gear, and thrown to the ground.

The video, which confirms what demonstrators said, forms part of a dossier of evidence, including photographs and witness statements, which the Guardian newspaper has now handed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Commission, which earlier accepted the police claim that they had no physical contact with Mr.Tomlinson before he collapsed, has now ordered an inquiry.

People are remembering wryly that the police ordered CCTV cameras shut off in the vicinity of the G20 meeting, for "security" reasons. They are also reminding each other of the recent moves to threaten people under "anti-terror" laws if they take photographs of police. Police officers could now face criminal proceedings as a result of the evidence gathered by an onlooker with the courage and presence of mind to film what was happening.

The 47-year old newspaper seller had been on his way home from work when he found himself facing lines of police, at Royal Exchange Passage. The film shows him turning, and walking in front of them with his hands in his pockets, He does not speak to the police, nor offer any resistance, as they push him forward. Then a Metropolitan Police officer appears to strike him from behind with a baton, hitting him on the upper thigh, before rushing forward and shoving him to the ground.

The police stand back, while people come forward to help the victim to his feet. According to some witnesses Mr.Tomlinson had already been hit with batons, before being pushed down. They also dispute police claims that they had "missiles" - plastic bottles - thrown at them as they tried to help Mr.Tomlinson after his collapse.

The inquiry for the IPCC was to be carried out by City of London Police. Mr. 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. We know that some people who were at the protest may not feel comfortable talking to the police. People are putting pictures on the internet, writing on blogs and talking to journalists. But we really need them to talk to the people who are investigating what happened."

The IPCC has now taken the inquiry in-house, after realising the City of London Police had members present when Mr.Tomlinson was killed.

Relatives and friends of another man who died as the result of police action have sent a message of sf sympathy and support to the Tomlinson family:


The family of Jean Charles de Menezes and their Campaign wish to express their deep condolences to the family of Ian Tomlinson over his tragic death. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We have been following the emerging evidence relating to the police assault on Ian with grave sadness as we remember the early accounts of how Jean Charles’ death was reported. The Tomlinson family has a right to find out the truth behind what led to Ian’s death. 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. 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 over arching 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. The need for such an inquiry is clearly needed now more than ever and we hope the Tomlinson family get the truth and justice they deserve".



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