Arthur Martin – Mail Online April 5, 2009
A newspaper seller who died of a heart attack during the G20 protests was 'violently attacked' by riot police, eye witnesses claim.
Ian Tomlinson, 47, was hit 'near the head' with a police baton and shoved to the ground by charging riot officers, according to statements received by the police watchdog.
Another witness claims he was bitten on the arm by a police dog.
The Independent Police Complains Commission is examining a series of accounts that allege Mr Tomlinson was a victim of police violence.
He was on his way home from work at a nearby newsagent when he got caught up in the violent protests near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening.
Shortly after the alleged assault, he collapsed and suffered a heart attack.
Initially a post mortem carried out by police attributed his death to natural causes.
But this version of events was challenged after witnesses recognised the dead man from photographs that were published on Friday.
An IPCC statement was due to be released the same day and is understood to have portrayed the death as a tragic accident.
However, this was postponed after the watchdog received information that police officers may have been more involved in events than previously thought.
A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given a statement to the IPCC, said she saw Mr Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers.
'I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he'd been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head,' she said.
'He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall. It made me wince.'
Amiri Howe, 24, also gave a testimony to the IPCC which supports allegations of police violence.
She recalls seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit 'near the head' with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show the dazed newspaper seller being helped by a bystander.
Anna Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, added: 'I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.'
Branthwaite has made a statement to the IPCC.
Mr Tomlinson, a married man who lived alone in a bail hostel, was not taking part in the protests.
As he made his way home, he is believed to have become caught between police lines and protesters.
Mr Tomlinson then appears to have been lifted to his feet by a bystander. Minutes later he fell to the ground.
Police have claimed that when paramedics tried to move Mr Tomlinson away for urgent treatment, bottles were thrown at them by protesters. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.
'We saw this guy staggering around,' said Natalie Langford, 21, a student. 'He looked disorientated. About five seconds later he fell, and I grabbed my friends to help him.'
Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth added: 'Eventually there will have to be a full inquest with a jury. It is a possibility this death was at police hands.'
An IPCC spokesman said that in light of new statements it was 'assessing' the information it had received before deciding whether to launch a full investigation.
She added: 'IPCC investigations are continuing to look at CCTV of the incident, examine statements and police records and speak to independent witnesses.'
Protesters marched to Bethnal Green police station in east London on Saturday to demand a public inquiry into Mr Tomlinson's death.
Last updated 07/04/2009