Police probe disabled protester's complaint

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The Independent Online

The police watchdog will supervise an investigation into complaints that a student fees protester was hit with a police baton, dragged from his wheelchair and pulled across the street.

Jody McIntyre said he was the victim of unprovoked action by the police after video footage of the incident was shown amid claims the police used disproportionate force in dealing with student demonstrators on December 9.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it received a complaint from the Metropolitan Police and decided it should be investigated further by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards under the supervision of the IPCC.

he IPCC said it has received a total of 111 complaints since the first student demonstration last month, with 100 of these relating to the Met, Britain's largest force.

A spokeswoman said one aspect of Mr McIntyre's complaint was that his treatment "amounted to discrimination on the basis of his disability".

He claimed he was assaulted by an officer with a baton, then by officers who removed him from his wheelchair and carried him from the demonstration, she said.

He also claimed that, later the same day, he was assaulted by an officer who tipped him out of his wheelchair onto the ground then dragged him across the road to the pavement.

Deborah Glass, the IPCC Commissioner for London, said: "There is no doubt that this footage is disturbing and it is right that it should be thoroughly investigated, both for Mr McIntyre and in the wider public interest.

"Supervising an investigation gives the IPCC the power to set the terms of reference for the investigation, which means we can also make sure that Mr McIntyre is consulted right from the start.

"The MPS DPS will regularly report to the IPCC on the progress of the investigation and update the IPCC at specific milestones, including when any officers involved have been identified and their accounts have been taken, and when eyewitness, video or CCTV evidence is gathered.

"It also preserves a complainant's right of appeal to the IPCC at the end of the investigation if they are not satisfied."

The Met has referred four matters, including Mr McIntyre's complaint to the IPCC, the spokeswoman said.

The watchdog is investigating allegations that 20-year-old student Alfie Meadows was left unconscious with bleeding on the brain after being hit on the head with a police truncheon as he tried to leave the area outside Westminster Abbey in central London on December 9.

"This investigation is progressing well," the IPCC said.

"Investigators are examining CCTV of the area and working to identify witnesses. Alfie Meadows has been discharged from hospital and is recovering well physically."

The other two investigations, which the IPCC is supervising, involve an allegation from Tahmeena Bax that she was struck over the head with a truncheon during the protests in London on November 30 and a complaint from the mother of a 15-year-old girl who alleges her daughter suffered a broken foot during the demonstration on November 24.

The spokeswoman went on: "The IPCC's role is to investigate the most serious complaints against police, for instance where death or serious injury has occurred.

"The IPCC is not responsible for investigating general operational policing of demonstrations, including, for instance, the tactic of 'kettling'.

"These are regarded as direction and control matters which fall outside of the IPCC's jurisdiction and are for the individual police force to respond to."