Faruk Ali was helping refuse collectors in Luton when according to witnesses officers assaulted him
The family of a severely autistic man allegedly beaten in an unprovoked attack by two Bedfordshire police officers, have dismissed reassurances that the incident will be investigated by another force.
33-year-old Faruk Ali, who also has learning difficulties, was helping refuse collectors outside his home in Whitby Road, Luton, on February 20 when, according to his family and witnesses, two officers assaulted him.
Faruk’s brother, Kodor, told The Muslim News that like most autistic people, Faruk likes routines. “His routine is taking the bins out every Thursday and helping the bin men. He has done this for several years.”
They say he was doing his weekly routine when two officers got out of a police car and grabbed him, saying he looked suspicious.
Neighbour Musthafa Hussain, who witnessed the incident, said, “They dragged him, they punched him, they held him hard. It was outrageous.”
Astonishingly his family says this is the second time that Faruk was left “bruised and battered” after an encounter with the police.
According to the family, Faruk, who has the mental capacity of a 5 year-old, was first ill-treated by police in 2011. “It’s unclear exactly what happened, however the results were the same in how he was treated, despite various people telling the police of his disability. The encounter left him again bruised and battered,” said Kodor.
The family lodged a formal complaint about the incident in their neighbourhood police. However, “Nothing came out of it. However, in light of what has happened in recent weeks and another witness coming forward of the first incident the police have agreed to also incorporate the first incident into their current investigation.”
This year’s incident was to be probed by the force’s professional standards department and supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
However, following a public outcry Beds Chief Constable Colette Paul announced in an open letter to locals that investigation was to be transferred to Leicestershire Police, a concession Kodor dismissed as “police investigating police.”
Kodor said only media interest in the story has prevented the latest incident from being “brushed under the carpet” like the 2011 incident. He added: “It seems to us that the police are determined to safeguard the position of the force and the reputation of those who have committed a criminal offence at the expensive of the truth.”
The family says they cannot dismiss “the idea that the incident was a race or disability hate crime as Faruk was clearly wearing a badge to alert people that he suffers from autism.”
Coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, Stephen Brookes, agrees. He said it appeared that the case had “some very serious underlying disability hate crime issues”, and should therefore be investigated as a disability hate crime.
And that Bedfordshire police and IPCC “need to firmly grasp this case and investigate, particularly given the highly intense feelings of the community.”
A spokesman for IPCC confirmed to The Muslim News Bedfordshire Police has referred the matter to them adding: “Due to the seriousness of the allegation and the wider concerns within the community, the IPCC has decided that we will supervise the investigation into this matter.
“This will ensure IPCC oversight of the police investigation into the complaint. We will keep this decision under review as the investigation progresses.”
Initially, the officers concerned had been placed on restricted duties so they were not working in the Luton area, but Paul also confirmed this decision had now been reviewed. “The officers involved are no longer to have any direct contact with the public whilst this investigation is taking place,” she said.
Kodor said they were still not satisfied with the response and wanted “immediate suspension while the investigation is being concluded to ensure transparency and neutrality”.
Ali’s other brother Dhobir, 31 said: “When he came in the house with the police behind him I saw the bruises and cuts and straight away knew what had happened to him. Why did the police use such force? They said he looked suspicious but he was wearing slippers at the time and he was wearing a big coat.
“The fact of the matter is my brother is not the only one who suffers from autism in Luton and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police told The Muslim News the force was “sorry for the distress Mr Ali and his family feel regarding the actions officers took due to their concerns for Mr Ali’s wellbeing.”