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Footage shows man repeatedly saying I cant breathe during incident in Poplar, east London
Three Metropolitan police officers have been filmed pinning a man down while he appeared to have a seizure.
The Met said it had referred the incident, which took place in Poplar, east London, at about 5.30pm on Tuesday, to the central east command professional standards unit. But the Guardian understands the Independent Office for Police Conduct may take over the investigation.
In the video, a man of Middle Eastern or Asian appearance repeatedly shouts: I cant breathe and my heart as the officers hold him down on the pavement.
At one point, an officer appears to drag a pair of handcuffs across the mans head, causing it to bleed. He then begins having spasms as officers continue to restrain him, while a woman, understood to be his wife, screams: Youre killing him.
As other officers arrive and try to push back members of the public watching and recording the incident, the officers holding him release their grip and he is shown unconscious, lying spreadeagled on the pavement.
Salman Khan, 19, a sports teacher from west London, was a passenger in a car passing through the area when they stopped after seeing a commotion on the ground.
My heart was beating fast, I genuinely thought he was going to die, he said. They held his legs and arms and stopped him from moving but he wasnt really moving, he was just shaking from the seizure.
Hes having a fit, they should have let him go, tilted him to the side, in the recovery position. Its quite clear that even his legs are shaking and people are screaming: Let go. They treated him [medically] too late and they were to blame for the situation.
He said he was told by other bystanders that the man was epileptic.
Video footage posted by Khan on Twitter, but filmed by someone else, begins when the man is already on the ground. It does not show the police officers strike the man, aside from when he is apparently scratched with the handcuffs. Officers who arrive tell onlookers to get back to make room for an ambulance. I need you to stand back, hes having a seizure, one says.
The Met said it was aware of the footage and the officers had also recorded the incident on body-worn cameras.
Officers attempted to speak with a man regarding his car, which was obstructing the highway and other motorists. The man declined to move his car and refused to provide officers with his driving licence, a spokesperson said.
A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of obstruction of the highway, assaulting police and resisting arrest. He was taken to hospital for treatment as a precaution and is now in custody at an east London police station. Two officers sustained minor injuries.
However, in a sign of how seriously the Met is taking the incident, it produced a briefing sent to selected people in the local community, which went much further than the press statement.
The briefing says the man was warned five times that he faced arrest, and failed to comply with 17 requests from officers to move his car or show his driving licence. It confirms officers believed he was having a seizure during physical restraint.
While on the floor, the males body starts to shake and it appears as if he is having a fit. At this point, the officers appear to be holding the suspect in place but not using any force, other than the officer who is holding down the legs, the force says.
The briefing says after the man failed to comply with the requests, 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.