Avon & Somerset Police have released documents detailing the scores of injuries sustained by officers and their frightening accounts of being assaulted during the Kill the Bill riots which saw vehicles set ablaze, fireworks launched in the street and a police station vandalised in broad daylight.
The worst night of chaos occurred on Sunday 21 March when 39 officers were injured, 45 were assaulted in total. According to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests , another five received injuries from assaults in other ugly demonstrations throughout the following week. 18 others were assaulted but did not sustain injuries.
In addition to the high toll of assaults, the FOI requests paint a troubling picture of what some members of the force experienced during the riots. One officer suffered a collapse lung, while another was stamped on so viciously his NATO helmet designed for combat and made of Kevlar cracked.
Other accounts reveal how the ferocious rioters stole shields from police officers and even used them as weapons against them.
In the case of the officer who suffered a collapsed lung, the filed report describes how he was “attacked by protesters and kicked in the ribs after falling to the ground and stamped upon. Officer has attended hospital and had a scan and X-ray. They have numbness and loss of feeling in the left hand, chest pain. Believed to have severe bruising. Unknown if broken ribs.”
An update revealed the officer was prescribed morphine to deal with the pain and had to take time off work to recover after being discharged from hospital.
Another horrifying account described an officer being dragged into the throng of rioters and stamped on by “at least ten individuals”. The brave copper managed to get through the ordeal unscathed and go straight back to work.
The report added: “They have stamped, kicked and punched the officer whilst he was on the ground. He was pulled from the crowd by colleagues having suffered bruising to his arms, legs and torso. His radio was stolen and his NATO helmet cracked. The officer remained on duty despite the pain and completed his early tour shift. No medical attention was sought (and he was) back at work.”
In a similar incident, an “officer was dragged into the crowd, pulled to the floor, punched and kicked by several people, lots of cuts and bruises. Remained on duty and is working now, Monday.”
Similarly, accounts of the objects and weapons used against police at the Kill the Bill riots – which ironically escalated from protests against greater police powers to quell disturbances caused by demonstrators – give a vivid portrayal of the carnage that unfolded.
“Officer has been struck repeatedly by a suspect male who was in possession of a police issue shield,” documented one report.
It added that he was “struck to the chest on one single occasion causing winding. Two females attempted to urinate on him but he managed to move out of the way.”
Fireworks were launched at policemen too. One report states: “A very large firework was thrown at the officer at 19.03hrs and at about 19.31hrs (the) officer was pushed and front-kicked in the stomach with force, at least twice. Officer was also spat at and pushed numerous times, attempt to take his shield and was hit with a stick or baseball bat. Very large number of projectiles were also thrown at the officer including stones and bottles. Remained on duty.”
In other news, four protestors have won an apology from Avon & Somerset police as well as compensation for wrongful arrest after the police apprehended them on the pretext of breaking Covid restrictions. A court ruled the powers had been wrongfully applied.
No one was harmed.