A gym owner who allegedly kept open his premises despite coronavirus lockdown restrictions has released footage showing officers using, what he calls, “excessive violence” after swooping on the location.
IFBB pro bodybuilder Nathan De Asha, 34, allegedly defied restrictions to offer people a “safe place” to train in a bid to combat the adverse effect on physical and mental health.
But police soon got wind of his actions and raided his Prophecy Performance Centre gym in Liverpool on February 7, where they found 40 people inside.
Footage released by De Asha shows several people running out of the gym as officers arrive.
One cop holding a baton hits a gym goer wearing a white top before ushering him away.
The clip then shows more than half a dozen officers surrounding De Asha and placing him in handcuffs.
There appears to be an exchange of words and, at one point, an officer appears to knee him in the stomach.
His colleagues then swarm on De Asha and tackle him to the ground.
De Asha, from Liverpool, said: “You can then see one officer lining up to knee me in the stomach or lower chest.
“I proceed to tilt forward and stagger back. I stagger in shock then a bunch of officers proceed to tackle me onto the floor.
“I am then kneed and kicked to the head by these officers and my ankles stamped on whilst a officer is also hitting my legs with his cosh.”
At one point in the video, an officer seems to point out the CCTV cameras and Nathan says this was to “caution the other officers that the excessive force they’re using is visible”.
Merseyside Police, which issued 52 fixed penalty notices, described the use of force as "necessary".
Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “At Merseyside Police, extensive training is given to officers around the importance of using force lawfully and proportionately, and thankfully, for the vast majority of interactions with the public, force is not required.
“The decision to use force is never taken lightly, and in cases where it is appropriate, officers must often make quick, split-second judgements where there is a risk of harm.
"During this incident, the use of force was judged necessary by officers in response to people’s behaviour.
“Officers should not be confronted with abuse and violence when attempting to uphold the law which most people are rightly abiding by."
In their initial statement, Merseyside Police said a “34-year-old man became aggressive, swearing at officers and refused to co-operate with attempts to engage with him”.
"Police subsequently received reports from a member of the public that up to 50 people were being held against their will at the rear of the gym, in an effort to prevent them from being detected by police,” they added.
"At around 7.05pm around 40 people attempted to leave the scene via the previously locked fire doors, with some driving away at speed and further patrols attended.
"Several of those attempting to make off from the scene behaved aggressively towards officers. Police detained a number of them."
De Asha appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court last week to contend the closure notice.
The court was told that the gym was given two prohibition orders in previous lockdowns.
Liverpool City Council had also applied for a closure order as the gym had allegedly remained open.
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