The police watchdog is looking into a forcible arrest of the father of a disabled toddler, which sparked accusations of brutality after videos surfaced showing officers hitting the man.
Younness Bentahar, 38, was arrested for parking on a single yellow line near a corner in east London yesterday afternoon. He told officers he could park in the location because he has a blue disabled badge which witnesses said was clearly on display in his windscreen.
Police said he refused 17 times to produce his licence or move his car, and was given a five-stage warning before being arrested. During his arrest footage shows officers hitting Mr Bentahar as they pin him to the pavement on the street in Tower Hamlets.
One brings his hand, holding a pair of solid metal handcuffs, down on Mr Bentahar’s head of the man drawing blood and another can be seen hitting him in the side.
Mr Bentahar can be heard screaming ‘aaargh my heart my heart’ before beginning to convulse, as a woman at the scene screams ‘you’re killing him.’ An officer later told bystanders to move back saying the man was having a seizure.
The Metropolitan Police have referred the incident to the a professional standards unit and the Independent Office for Police Conduct has said it looking into the matter.
An officer holding handcuffs punched the motorist with them repeatedly (left) during the scuffles which saw the man’s wife intervene on his behalf
Mr Bentahar, who has the disabled blue badge because his two-year-old daughter requires oxygen from a tank at all times, has reportedly suffered broken fingers and a potentially broken arm
The incident began when he parked on a single yellow line near a corner and an officer repeatedly told him he was ‘obstructing the highway’ and could be arrested.
In one video circulating on social media which appears to show the conversation leading up to the arrest, an officer points at the man’s car and tells him he faces potential arrest for obstructing the highway.
A witness, who lives next to Mr Bentahar’s sister in a block of flats, told MailOnline Mr Bentahar, aged in his 40s, from Bromley and originally from Morocco, had brought flowers with him and was visiting his sister for dinner.
She said: ‘They had come dinner to their sister’s house. The man came with his wife, two year old daughter and four year old son.
‘One of them went up to him, knocked on his window and said ‘you are parked illegally’.
‘All of us park here. We never get any problems with the police.
‘He [the officer] said, ‘…move your car, you are parked illegally’.
He [Mr Bentahar] said, ‘Look I’m not parked illegally, I’ve a blue badge’.
In the footage the two officers can be seen struggling with the man on a street in Tower Hamlets on Tuesday afternoon
She said the badge was clearly displayed, and photographs of the car – which had not been moved by lunchtime today, show it clearly visible.
She went on: ‘I don’t know how they got out of the car but I know he expressed to them, ‘Don’t arrest me in front of my children, my children will witness it and I don’t want them seeing it’.
She said the officers ‘floored’ Mr Bentahar after he became ‘frustrated’ with the police.
She added: ‘I’m in touch with the gentleman’s sister and wife. They are very distressed. The husband is in a lot of pain, the sister said two of his fingers were broken and I think his arm may be fractured.
‘He is feeling very dizzy and in extreme pain because he was so badly hit in the head.’
Videos of the struggle show him pinned to the pavement letting out blood-curdling screams, shouting ‘Aaaargh, my heart, my heart, my heart, leave me alone, I was unlucky, I was unlucky.’
The driver’s car, which police said yesterday was obstructing the highway, was still at the location this lunchtime with the blue disabled badge clearly visible
A woman at the scene is screaming ‘You’re killing him’ and telling the man to ‘relax’.
The man moves his face towards the hand of one of the arresting officers, which is pinning his wrist to the ground, and the officer brings his free hand, holding metal handcuffs, down against the man’s head drawing blood from above the eyebrow.
A police statement released this afternoon said the man ‘appears to attempt to bite the arresting officer’.
The woman screams louder as the man starts to convulse and screams ‘You’re killing him, you’re killing him’.
A female police officer tells the cameraman, who has identified himself as a solicitor, to stand back to ‘give him some privacy’ saying the man is ‘having a seizure’.
The man responds by telling her that two officers ‘rugby tackled’ the man, and a third’ whacked him with handcuffs while he’s on the floor’
The video also shows officers shouting ‘release your arm’, as they attempt to restrain the man, dressed in a navy blue jacket, who shouts back ‘what for?’, as an officer attempts to handcuff him.
His wife begins to scream ‘he’s dying, he’s dying’, and grabs one of the officers.
In the footage another officer arrives as the man shouts ‘I have done nothing’, and then begins to scream. Another officer, holding solid metal handcuffs, can be seen hitting the man in the stomach as he lays on the floor.
He continues to struggle as his wife implores ‘don’t sit on him, don’t sit on him.’
In another video the officers continue to try and restrain the man as people gather to watch.
One man tells officers the prone individual ‘has a condition’ and ‘is having a fit.’
The officers then get off the man, who lays flat out on his back, and an officer urges the crowd of people back, saying ‘the man is having a seizure.’
An officer comes into the clip holding a first aid kit. The man was later taken to hospital, and on into custody.
Social media users were divided on what was happening in the video, with some people saying it was police brutality while others thought the man should not have been resisting arrest.
More officers arrived as the struggle continued (left) while at its conclusion, the motorist appeared to be unconscious (right)
One user said: ‘Watched the whole thing some guy resisting arrest.. there’s no police assaulting him just restraining him while he fights it.
‘Don’t be so dramatic. If you think otherwise time stamp it, there no handcuffs as knuckle dusters… quit trying to stir.’
And another said: ‘Hitting someone with handcuffs is totally unacceptable and evidently an unreasonable and inappropriate way of the right ‘to use of force’.
‘Sadly, public recordings don’t always show the reason behind the arrest in the first place or the bigger picture.’
While another said: ‘This is how people end up dead but police claim they are merely doing their job.
‘Hiding behind their badge and nursing their injured pride when someone disagrees with them. Use brutality to show who’s boss.’
The man appears to suffer from some kind of medical condition and was taken to hospital
Commander Mark McEwan of Scotland Yard said: ‘At about 17:30hrs, 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.
‘The officer speaking to the man gives him a five stage warning – five opportunities to comply with the request made to move the vehicle or he will be arrested for causing an obstruction of the highway. Having failed to do so, the officer takes out his handcuffs and begins to arrest the man, who resists.
‘The man is subsequently arrested on suspicion of obstruction of the highway, assaulting police and resisting arrest. During the incident he became unwell – officers immediately assisted and called an ambulance. 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.
‘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.
‘To that end, the matter has been referred to the Central East Command professional standards unit and we will continue to talk to and listen to the local community to address any concerns.’
Detective Sergeant Peter Harvey, of the Met’s Central East CID, told local policing partners that the driver was asked ‘no less than 17 times to either produce his driving licence or move his vehicle. He does not do so.
‘The officer gives the gentleman a 5 stage warning – 5 opportunities to comply with the request made to move the vehicle or he will be arrested for causing an obstruction of the highway. Having failed to do so, the officer takes out his handcuffs and begins to arrest the male, who resists.
‘The male lashes out his arm and appears to attempt to bite the arresting officer.
‘The videos circulating then show what happens next.’
Last year in a radio interview Met Commissioner Cressida Dick called on citizens to ‘get involved’ rather than filming assaults on officers
Last year Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wanted the public to ‘get involved’ when they saw officers being assaulted rather than filming incidents and posting them on social media.
She told LBC radio: ‘Officers getting assaulted and people thinking that’s funny and putting it on the internet – I think that’s disgusting.
‘I think I want to live in a society, and I think I do live in a society, where people are active citizens.
‘People stand up and say ‘that’s not right, don’t do that’ and on occasion, if they feel able, get involved and do something physical. You have to look at the circumstances.
‘If there’s a man pointing a gun at you we don’t want you running at the man pointing the gun, that would be crazy.
‘If you see an officer getting a kicking and you feel able to assist, absolutely I want my public getting involved, and we see people getting involved, including in some of those videos.
‘We don’t want people taking crazy risks, we do want people getting involved.’
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