Antwon Forrest: Police say boy hit in face with paddle was victim of racist attack after case reopened

Officers apologise for dropping case they now think was hate crime

Liam James
Wednesday 11 May 2022 15:46
<p>Antwon was pictured with cut on his face that allegedly resulted from incident in March</p>

Antwon was pictured with cut on his face that allegedly resulted from incident in March

A black boy attacked by a woman with a paddle was the victim of a racist attack, police said after launching a review of the case.

Antwon Forrest, 12, and friends were playing at Conham River Park in Bristol on 26 March when they were contronted by a woman who told them off for throwing mud at people in the water.

The woman struck Antwon, the only black child in the group, with the paddle and allegedly caused him a head injury that needed to be glued.

Avon and Somerset Police said the woman was arrested then released before being reinterviewed at a police station where she admitted hitting the boy, claiming self-defence.

Despite her admission, officers decided no action should be taken and closed the case until public backlash online convinced more senior officers to reopen it last week.

Chief Inspector Mike Buck said: “It’s only right and proper we are scrutinised on the decisions we take and I want to reassure our communities that we are listening and we are taking action to re-examine all aspects of this incident, as well as how the initial investigation was carried out.”

Officers apologised for closing the case, saying they had “complete empathy” with Antwon's family and had reclassified the incident as being racially motivated.

The incident drew public anger when the Bristol Post wrote a story last week revealing the case had been dropped. Pictures of Antwon with a bloodied face and cut forehead were posted online by his aunt, along with a video clip of a woman angrily confronting his friends after the attack.

Ty Forrest, Antwon’s father, said he was disappointed with the initial finding and feared for the effect it would have on his son, who is autistic.

“It’s a kick in the teeth that nothing has happened. I knew she wasn’t going to jail or anything like that but I thought that it might have at least gone on her record or she’d be given a fine,” he told the Bristol Post.

“If the police could have got some sort of resolution to it, it would have been better, but this is disappointing. I don’t want my son to live the rest of his life believing that there are no consequences to things like this.

“We have been getting a lot of support from people since it happened back in March and Antwon’s lived with it. We keep reassuring him but he’s scared and upset and we’re upset that nothing’s been done.”

Police said they had visited Mr Forrest since the launching the review and would keep the family updated.

Officers have asked witnesses to come forward by calling 101 or 5222071897.

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