Doctor dragged from side of dying daughter by police in shocking footage

Police bodycam video reveals violent scuffle inside intensive care ward after father refuses to leave critically ill daughter in England

By: News Desk      Published: 01:09 AM, 4 Aug, 2020
Doctor dragged from side of dying daughter by police in shocking footage
Rashid Abbasi is strapped down to a hospital gurney and wheeled out of the ward.

Astonishing footage has emerged of a father being dragged away in handcuffs from his dying daughter’s bedside by police officers during a dispute with hospital staff over her care in England, reported The Independent.

Rashid Abbasi was forcibly removed during a violent scuffle with four police officers after he refused to leave his daughter Zainab, six.

Zainab, who suffered from the rare genetic illness Niemann-Pick disease, was critically ill at the time and her doctors had just informed Dr Abbasi and his wife Aliya they had decided to remove life-support and allow her to die.

The resulting confrontation between the Northumbria Police officers and Dr Abbasi, himself an NHS consultant, was filmed by police bodycam and has been released as part of the case.

After the 58-year-old was wheeled out of the hospital in handcuffs and restrained on a trolley bed, the NHS Trust – which cannot be named for legal reasons – applied to the High Court for permission to take Zainab off the ventilator which was keeping her alive.

Shortly before the hearing was due to begin in September last year, the six-year-old died.

The video, filmed on 19 August, 2019, shows four officers approach the couple as they sit holding Zainab’s hand on the intensive care unit at the hospital, which is in the north of England.

They repeatedly ask Dr Abbasi to leave the ward with them, and he declines to leave his daughter’s side.

Ms Abbasi tells the officers they had been told of the hospital’s decision to withdraw life support just 30 minutes earlier and begs them to allow her husband to stay at Zainab’s bedside.

Speaking on Monday, Dr Abbasi said he could not contemplate leaving his daughter’s side voluntarily.

“I would not leave my daughters’ bedside voluntarily just to talk to them because I knew if I stepped out they would not let me back in and they might use that opportunity to if I am away from her to remove the tube,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The relationship between the Abbasis and the doctors caring for Zainab had broken down after the couple vehemently disagreed with the conclusion nothing more could be done for the girl.

The police had previously been called on a separate occasion after the hospital staff said Dr Abbasi had been aggressive.

In the bodycam footage, after a few minutes of trying to speak with Dr Abbasi, the police officers decide to remove him by force.

They can be seen first dragging away his wife from the bedside by her wrists, before two officers pull the father, who is kicking and screaming, out of the ward and into a corridor.

As they struggle to subdue him and handcuff him, Dr Abbasi screams and repeatedly slumps onto the floor and can be heard saying “I’ve got chest pain” and asking for medication in his pocket.

During the prolonged scuffle, several of the officers accuse the 58-year-old of biting them, and he can also be heard calling them “animals” and “bastards”. One of the female officers in return accuses him of acting “like an animal” during the melee.

The officers then tie his ankles and legs together with restraints and lift him onto a trolley bed so he can be wheeled out of the ward to the A&E department.

Now, the Abbasis have launched a legal battle against Northumbria Police for wrongful arrest and say they are considering also suing the NHS Trust involved.

“I reacted as any father would who is suffering from grief, but I also knew in my professional capacity that my daughter was purposefully not receiving the treatment she needed to live,” Dr Abbasi said.

“For challenging this and trying to protect my daughter’s life, I was treated like a criminal and an animal. This was brutal and unacceptable, but we want to emphasise that it was the doctors and the hospital who escalated the situation and involved the police unnecessarily.

“We are still grieving deeply, but we have no choice but to expose what has happened and to fight for justice for our daughter.”

But a spokesperson for the hospital insisted it had acted in the best interests of Zainab throughout.

“When disagreements about clinical care happen, we do everything we can to listen, understand and provide support during what are very difficult and sensitive circumstances.

“On very rare occasions, when there is a risk to the safety of any of the patients in our care, to relatives, visitors or to our staff – or obstruction or interference with the delivery of care and treatment – it is necessary for us to seek help from our security staff or the police.

“We must stress that this action is never taken lightly. We would like to offer our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family at this extremely distressing time.”

Speaking the Today programme, Dr Abbasi also said he believed if he had been white he would have been treated differently. A spokesman for the NHS Trust “categorically” denied this was the case, and a spokesperson for Northumbria Police declined to comment on this.

In a statement, the force did say: “While we recognised this was a very distressing time for him and his family, our duty was to ensure the safety of all those present.”