Police to investigate Bristol woman who 'hit a boy, 12, with paddle'
Police will now investigate woman who ‘hit a boy, 12, with a paddle because he was black’ – as force reopens probe after public backlash and say alleged attack WAS racially motivated
- Antwon Forrest, 12, was ‘accused and attacked’ by the woman at a park in Bristol
- She reportedly then struck the 12-year-old on the head with a paddle she had
- Unnamed woman was initially arrested before being de-arrested shortly after
- Now, police say that the attack as racially motivated and have launched a review
A 12-year-old boy who was injured after being hit in the head with a paddle by a woman was the victim of a racially motivated attack, police have ruled.
Antwon Forrest, 12, was playing with friends at Conham River Park, Bristol, when they were confronted by the woman on March 26.
It was claimed that Antwon, who is autistic, was ‘accused and attacked’ by the woman with a paddle, who said she was acting in self-defence after a group of children threw mud at people in the water.
According to the boy’s family, Antwon was struck in the head with the paddle, leaving him with a bloody face and deep cut.
His aunt believes Antwon was targeted because he was the ‘only black boy in the group’.
Antwon told ITV: ‘When I got hit I was just so confused about what was happening to me. I was the only mixed-race boy there and she only came for me. It was just confusing.’
Police initially arrested the woman before releasing her because of a lack of evidence.
On April 14, Antwon’s family received a letter from the force which confirmed the woman admitted pushing Antwon with a paddle in her hand but there was ‘no realistic prospect of conviction’ if the matter was to go to court.
However, Avon and Somerset Police on Tuesday said they have ‘complete empathy’ with the boy’s family and reclassified the incident as being racially motivated after a public outcry.
The force said a review was ‘immediately launched after senior officers became aware of the decision’, following concerns raised by the injured boy’s family via social media.
Antwon, 12, was left with a deep cut on his forehead after being struck in the face with a boat paddle by a woman
Antwon told ITV: ‘When I got hit I was just so confused about what was happening to me. I was the only mixed-race boy there and she only came for me. It was just confusing’
It was claimed that Antwon, who is autistic, was ‘accused and attacked’ by the woman with a paddle, who said she was acting in self-defence after a group of children threw mud at people in the water
Officers have met with the boy’s father to give him ‘a full commitment to carrying out a comprehensive and thorough review’ and to keep him updated on its progress.
An online petition featured a picture of Antwon’s bloodied face and his aunt said she had been ‘devastated’ to see it.
Police said they had taken statements and looked at phone footage from after the incident.
The review is also being monitored by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), it added.
Reacting to the police’s original decision to release the woman, Antwon’s father Tyran Forrest described the news as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
He told ITV: ‘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.
‘For a father to see their son injured in that way, and it just to be pushed to one side, it’s not a nice thing at all. I’m deeply upset about it.
‘It’s not nice that he’s going to have a scar for life now.’
Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees and deputy Asher Craig criticised the original decision to release the woman. They said: ‘As it stands, we appear to have a bad decision – we are yet to be made aware of any information that would explain the decision to a reasonable level of satisfaction.’
Chief Inspector Mike Buck said: ‘We’re extremely grateful to the boy’s father for agreeing to meet with us and we had a constructive conversation in which we answered his questions and give him assurances about this review and what it means.
‘We have complete empathy with his family and listened carefully to what he had to say. We gave him a full commitment to carrying out a comprehensive and thorough review and to keep him updated about its progress.
On April 14, Antwon’s family received a letter from the force which confirmed the woman admitted pushing Antwon with a paddle in her hand but there was ‘no realistic prospect of conviction’ if the matter was to go to court
‘We’ve re-classified this incident as being racially motivated and we have a Detective Sergeant leading the review, with oversight from a senior officer’.
The force has again appealed for witnesses as officers take further statements, seek footage, re-examine calls made to emergency services and compile medical evidence.
The chief inspector added: ‘There will be learnings coming out of this incident, for example we’ve already identified the family should have been offered a right to review following the initial decision not to take any further action, and we have said sorry for that.
‘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’.
Source: Read Full Article