Scotland Yard investigates video showing 'police brutality' during arrest of British Asian law graduate

Rising community tension over arrest of Church of England youth centre manager, with some using #BrownLivesMatter hashtag to highlight concerns 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Scotland Yard’s directorate of professional standards is examining a video that is alleged to show a police officer using excessive force while arresting a law graduate for assault and public disorder.

The video, which is being circulated widely on social media under the hashtag #brownlivesmatter, shows Zakaria Hussain, a 26 year old British Bangladeshi, being arrested during a stand up row with officers in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Saturday night.

Mr Hussain, a manager at the Church of England run Arbour Youth Centre, has since made a formal complaint about the incident, saying: “What these officers did was a violation of my rights and they have taken my dignity.” He says he plans to sue the police. Police have said the video is "only a snap shot" of the confrontation.

It is understood the incident took place as Mr Hussain was stopped for questioning by officers in an unmarked police car on Saturday. Mr Hussain said he became upset when he saw a uniformed officer open his petrol cap. 

In the video, he can be seen being restrained in handcuffs by a team of officers in Shandy Street, Stepney. He raises his voice saying his rights are being violated and asks the police why they are “lying”.

An officer responds that he is not lying and says, “Please don’t spit at me” and pushes his face away with his hand. Mr Hussain denies he is spitting and the officer then grabs his head, before forcing him to the ground.

Angry onlookers are heard objecting and question why the officer is holding Mr Hussain's head. They are heard saying they are capturing the events on video, which was later posted on social media.

As tensions escalated within the area’s large Bangladeshi community–with some even calling for demonstrations outside police stations–the borough commander of Tower Hamlets, Chief Superintendent Sue Williams, took the unusual step of issuing her own video via Twitter on Tuesday.

In it she said: “On Saturday, 8 October Neighbourhood Officers from Tower Hamlets were out on routine patrol in Shandy Street, E1, and spoke to some young men due to concerns about anti-social behaviour in this area. 

“At 8.10pm the officers called for additional assistance. One man was arrested on suspicion of assault on police and a section 5 Public Order Act Offence. He has since been bailed.

“Senior officers at Tower Hamlets are aware of the footage of the arrest being circulated on social media and of community concerns regarding this.”

She said the video had been passed to the Directorate of Professional Standards “to review”. She explained that was necessary because “the footage captures only a snap shot of officers restraining a man who is non-compliant in a difficult policing situation”.

Mr Hussain, who said he suffered a number of injuries during the arrest, has issued his own version of the incident on social media. He said: “I was approached by a police officer…out of an unmarked vehicle, I was simply in my car cleaning my dashboard. 

“The officer failed to identify himself nor did he produce his warrant card. 

“I was subjected to a violent ordeal with none of my rights upheld. As you can see from the video I am subject to a vicious assault and police brutality. I did not spit at anyone! I have no dealings with the police, nor am I known to the police, wanted, nor was I in the process of committing a crime or equipped to carry out an offence. 

“#BrownLivesMatter as you can see the police have accused me of assault. I did no such thing."

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said he was “very alarmed” by the video and has sought a meeting with the police.

He added:  “We clearly need an investigation of this incident. I understand many in our community will be understandably angry at what they have seen but I would urge a calm response.

“Our community needs to have faith and confidence in the police who serve us.

“Incidents like this threaten to destroy that trust and undo years of work to build closer relations between the police and our community.”

The Rev Trevor Critchlow, chair of the trustees at the Arbour Youth Centre, said: "The trustees are entirely supportive of Zak. He has done wonderful work in the community and he has helped turn many young lives around."