Man ‘suffers seizure’ while restrained by police after parking dispute
Footage of a man who appeared to suffer a seizure while being restrained by police during a scuffle over parking his car has provoked accusations of brutality.
Video of the arrest in Abbott Road, Tower Hamlets, east London, on Tuesday was shared on social media and provoked anger among some users.
Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had discussed the incident, which was caught on body worn video, with the Metropolitan Police.
It said: “Following discussions earlier today, we can confirm we’ve received a referral from the Met Police relating to yesterday’s incident in Abbott Road, Poplar. We’ve started an independent investigation which will look at all the circumstances of the stop and arrest.”
The video shows police initially trying to handcuff the man as he struggled to escape, with his wife screaming “he’s dying” and apparently trying to intervene.
Later the man appears to be having a seizure as three officers continue to restrain him.
According to witnesses, his two young children were in the family’s car nearby.
The confrontation began when he was asked to move his car from a single yellow line where he had parked, reportedly displaying a Blue Badge because one of his children is dependent on oxygen.
The man refused to move the car or show his driving licence, and footage showed him struggling to avoid being handcuffed, with three officers eventually pinning him down.
One appeared to press his arm on or near the man’s neck, while another hit him in the side with handcuffs shouting “release your arm!”
Further footage shows the man apparently having a seizure as police move crowds away.
A witness who did not want to be named, said the officers had hit the man with handcuffs, punched his head and held him around his neck.
“They were arresting him like he was a terrorist or something. He just parked on a single yellow line, you give him a ticket, that’s it, end of story,” the witness told PA.
“They say we have no money for police, why are they arresting people for these stupid things and wasting their time?”
The witness said the man and his family had parked in the same spot a few times before and seemed nice. He filmed what happened and passed the footage to the arrested man’s sister.
Another witness Shaikh Luthfur said: “It was disgusting. He is a family man and he wasn’t doing anything. He had a bunch of flowers in his hand.
“The police made themselves look bad. Who’s going to trust them?”
Metropolitan Police Commander Mark McEwan said: “The circumstances are that at about 5.30pm, officers attempted to speak with a 38-year-old man about his car.
“It was obstructing the highway in a way that caused a danger to other motorists having to swerve around it onto the wrong side of the road.
“Even those with a disabled badge cause an offence if they obstruct the highway.
“We have today reviewed Body Worn Video, recorded as standard practice by officers at the scene.
“The footage shows the man is asked multiple times to either produce his driving licence or move his vehicle and does not do so.”
He said the man was given five chances to move the car, before the officers went to arrest him and he resisted.
“During the incident he became unwell – officers immediately assisted and called an ambulance,” he said.
“The man was taken to hospital for treatment as a precaution, and is now in custody at an east London police station.
“Two officers suffered minor injuries.”
He continued: “I understand how concerning this incident may have looked to those at the scene or people who have viewed social media footage since and it is only right we look in detail at the circumstances of what happened yesterday to ensure confidence in how we police London.”
During a Home Affairs Select Committee hearing on Wednesday, chairwoman Yvette Cooper called the footage “extremely disturbing” and urged Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to “look closely” at referring the case to the IOPC.
The Scotland Yard chief said: “I’m not going to sit here and judge in any way at all, you wouldn’t expect me to, what has happened there.
“Police officers work in difficult conditions, have to on occasion use force and sometimes extreme force to achieve their lawful objectives.
“Equally, I can see that very vivid videos can cause a huge amount of concern to members of the public.”