Disabled Sheffield man screamed ‘get off me’ as security guards threw him out of Meadowhall

A disabled man has claimed he was ‘assaulted’ by security guards who threw him out of Meadowhall following a furious argument.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 04 April, 2019, 13:10

Peter Harwood was shopping when he noticed a security guard asking a group of young people to leave Meadowhall for ‘loitering’.

One of the youths was told he would be ‘forcibly removed’ if he did not leave before the guard attempted to guide him out.

Peter Harwood gets thrown out of Meadowhall

At that point Mr Harwood intervened, ordering the security guard to ‘stop touching’ the youths before he was warned he would be arrested for a breach of the peace.

After an argument, Mr Harwood was arrested and led out of the shopping centre as he screamed to be let go, shouting ‘I’m disabled’.

Mr Harwood has since claimed he was assaulted by the ‘security guards’ but South Yorkshire Police said there was ‘insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an assault had taken place’.

He said: “My 15-year-old son was in Meadowhall on that day so it could easily have been him being told to leave by the security guards.

“I did not go looking for this but I was just questioning the guard’s actions. I was in shock and the whole thing seemed it was in slow motion. I remember seeing shocked shoppers faces as they saw a disabled man with a walking stick being assaulted by three large security guards.”

Footage of the incident was captured on one of the security guard’s body worn cameras and has been released, along with witness statements, by Meadowhall to Mr Harwood.

In the footage, Mr Harwood can be heard questioning the guard about why the youths are being thrown out, claiming ‘you can’t loiter in a shopping mall’.

Meadowhall’s Visitor Code of Conduct said it will not permit ‘any actions that may be perceived as intimidating’.

It adds that it reserves the right to refuse entry to, or remove any person or persons from its property.

A furious Mr Harwood asked security guards ‘what are you going to do, arrest me?’ during the argument before being restrained from behind and led into a nearby corridor.

Security guards asked Mr Harwood to put his walking stick away and to calm down, before he shouted and swore at them.

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In a statement to South Yorkshire Police, Mr Harwood explained that he has a number of mental health and physical disabilities causing him to walk with a stick.

He said he was in Meadowhall with his son and daughter to spend some of their Christmas money when he noticed the gang of youths being asked to leave.

He said he impulsively intervened as he noticed the youth looking ‘petrified’ before claiming he was assaulted by the guard.

He said: “During this assault by the security guards, I remember being forced close to the ground near Clintons and HMV and having my arms twisted, legs kicked and head and neck grabbed and manhandled, while shouting for help and assistance to other shoppers.

“I have bipolar disorder and the mention of police just triggered me, sending me into a panicked, anxious state.

“Throughout this incident, I was non-threatening, non-violent and non-abusive. I never swore, used gestures or threatened anyone. I merely became incredulous at their reasons for using force on a young boy. I still stand by this.”

In a witness statement, one of the security guards involved said he feared Mr Harwood would become violent given ‘his general demeanour and fixed stare’.

The statement read: “I would comment that throughout the incident I was very surprised by the male’s actions.

“By his conduct he turned a relative, everyday removal of a non-complying youth into a possibly violent incident. His intervention at the scene was unwelcome and gave encouragement to the youth.

“By our actions, as security staff, we gave him no cause to behave in the way he did and our actions were proportionate to the actions of those present.

“He appeared to quickly move towards a very angry state, this being most unwelcome in a busy retail environment.”

Meadowhall said that, following the incident, an investigation was carried out and found their security team had behaved in an appropriate manner.

A spokesperson for the mall said: “Our fully-trained team conducted an investigation on this matter and, as confirmed by the police statement, concluded that it was an appropriate lawful ejection given the circumstances.”