Shocking footage has emerged of the moment a father was dragged away from his dying six-year-old and arrested after being told she would be taken off life support in a north England hospital.
The hospital had just informed Dr Rashid Abbasi – a respiratory expert who has worked for the NHS for more than 30 years and his wife Aliya – a former doctor, that a decision had been made to remove life-support from their daughter Zainab, and allow her to die.
The video, obtained from a police bodycam, shows four officers approach the couple as they sit holding Zainab’s hand on the intensive care unit at the hospital in the north of England.
Mrs Abbasi attempts to explain to 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.
They repeatedly ask Dr Abbasi, 59, to leave the ward with them, and he declines to leave his daughter’s side.
Police officers can be seen first pulling away his wife from the bedside by her wrists bringing her to the floor.
Dr Abbasi is then forcibly removed from Zainab’s bedside during a violent scuffle.
During the prolonged ruckus, several of the officers accuse the 58-year-old of biting them. One of the female officers in return accuses Dr Abbasi of acting “like an animal” and “to behave” as he repeatedly tells them he’s having a heart attack.
He was held by the neck and strapped to a hospital gurney and wheeled out of the ward, he can be heard pleading with the arresting officers to take his under-the-tongue medicine from his pocket because he is experiencing chest pains. But his request seems to go completely ignored throughout the clip.
Following the incident shown in the footage, Rashid was taken to accident and emergency, where officers later de-arrested him. He said he was told he had suffered a heart attack and the next day he underwent an emergency angioplasty.
Speaking to the press for the first time, Dr Abbasi has said: “The pictures speak for themselves. They behaved like barbarians.
“They were not prepared to listen. My daughter was given a death sentence half an hour before they arrived.
“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.
“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.”
Why was the police involved?
Police were called on 19th August, last year, after receiving a complaint from the hospital about Rashid’s behaviour. Earlier he had stormed out of a meeting when they were told that doctors planned to take Zainab off a ventilator and move her to palliative care.
Rashid and Aliya pleaded for further tests and they claim that on two previous occasions they had successfully argued for Zainab to be treated with steroids instead of having life support withdrawn, and that her condition improved.
The father believed that while his daughter was dangerously ill she could survive with the right care.
Doctors disagreed and told the couple ‘we are not going to be doing any more going round in circles.’
Following these events, the NHS trust applied to the High Court for permission to take Zainab off the ventilator, but on 16th September, just three days before the hearing was due to start, Zainab died.
The hospital commented: “When there is a risk to the safety of any of the patients in our care, to relatives, visitors or to our staff – or interference with the delivery of care and treatment – it is necessary for us to seek help from the police.
“This is never taken lightly. It is essential we maintain a safe and secure environment, particularly where we are caring for very sick and vulnerable patients.”
The police force involved, which cannot be named for legal reasons, said its officers responded to a call ‘of a man being violent and abusive towards staff and that he had assaulted a consultant’.
They added: “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.”
They confirmed Mr Abbasi was arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace and assaulting police officers, and that one officer was treated in A&E.
The force added: “Due to the nature of the incident, it was necessary to detain the man, and when he complained of feeling unwell he was taken for treatment as soon as possible.”