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Bristol riot: Burning item put under police van with officer inside

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An officer has described becoming ‘aware of the smell of burning’ as a suspect placed a piece of card on fire underneath his police van during the Bristol riot.

Footage of the incident has now been released by Avon and Somerset Police. It shows a person, dressed in a dark coloured hoodie, placing the small fire under the vehicle while it reverses.

The clip was filmed on Sunday, as violence erupted amid a ‘Kill the Bill’ protest taking place in Bristol. Fireworks were also thrown into crowds of people and the windows of a police station were smashed.

Describing the incident, the officer said: ‘I was aware from the radio that my colleagues were under attack outside the front of Bridewell police station where damage had been caused.

‘I could hear screaming and shouting from the officers as they were being attacked – a call was made for vehicles to be used to assist officers.

‘The only way to protect my colleagues was to place the vehicle across, side on, in front of them to offer protection. There were glass bottles, rocks as big as fists, pallets, fences and other objects strewn across the road and being used against the police.

The man can be seen placing the burning item under the van (Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)
The officer inside the van said he became ‘aware of the smell of burning’ (Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

‘Whilst in the vehicle, a number of people attempted to gain entry to it, however the vehicle was bolted shut.

‘I was aware of the smell of burning and CCTV reported that people were attempting to set the vehicle tyres alight, with me still in it, and so I began to prepare to decamp the vehicle.’

Police are looking to speak to a man in connection with the incident, and have shared a picture of him.

Chief Supt Carolyn Belafonte, who is overseeing the investigation into the disorder, said: ‘This officer’s account is just one of many we’ve gathered from our colleagues at the scene of this terrifying incident.

Officers which to speak to this man in connection with the incident (Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary)

‘It’s upsetting to hear how colleagues feared for their lives that night and it strengthens our resolve to bring all those responsible to justice. Our investigation is continuing at pace but it is painstaking work.

‘Our online gallery, which currently has 18 images within it, has been viewed more than 80,000 times since it was launched – and we’ve received more than 200 calls and around 280 evidential submissions from the public to date. This is a phenomenal response and we’re grateful for every piece of information.’

A total of 40 officers were injured during the riot on Sunday, with initial reports suggesting several had suffered broken bones. Today Chief Constable Andy Marsh clarified that their injuries were not as serious as first thought.

He also said an officer who was said to have suffered a punctured lung did need hospital treatment and a CT scan.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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