POLICE have apologised to the family of an autistic boy who was hit by an oar in a park and promised to reopen their investigation into the incident after initially saying it would be dropped.
Officers now say they are treating the case as potentially racially motivated after 12-year-old Antwon Forrest was left with a gash to his head following a row over children throwing ‘mud balls’ at boats in a riverside park in Bristol.
His family were initially told police would not pursue the case against a woman accused of hitting him but the force had a change of heart after a video of the aftermath of the row went viral on social media.
Antwon’s family spoke out about their hurt when it was revealed no further action would be taken against the woman, who claims she was acting in self-defence.
Antwon’s dad, Tyran Forrest, who is mixed race, said he believed the incident could be racially motivated as Antwon maintains he was not with the children throwing stones and was the only black child nearby.
A review has now been launched by senior officers who say they became aware of the case following a campaign by the public.
An Instagram post which shows the moments after Antwon was hit, shared by his aunt, and calling for Avon and Somerset Police to re-look at their decision gathered more than 100,000 likes and support from a number of celebrities.
Bristol commander Superintendent Mark Runacres, along with and a community leader have now met with Tyran to discuss the review.
The Chief inspector said they have ‘complete empathy’ for the family and are fully committed to carrying out a comprehensive review.
He confirmed the force have re-classified the incident as being racially motivated and will now look to take statements from as many people who witnessed the incident as possible, as well as reviewing 999 calls and footage of the altercation.
Chief Inspector Mike Buck confirmed they have apologised for not offering the family the right to review.
He said: “We will learn from this and the decisions we take will be subject to even further scrutiny so our communities can have full confidence in the outcome.”
Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has footage is asked to call 101 and give the reference 5222071897.