To bystanders it looked a lot like police brutality as the copper pressed the young man's face into the wet and dirty road as he cried in protest. But an hour before I'd been sat on the night bus as the boy, for no apparent reason walked into the street in front of the 12 ton vehicle, and head butted it repeatedly until the reinforced window pane finally cracked.
What made him so senselessly aggressive toward a big red bus I can only surmise, but we looked on in wordless disbelief that anyone would be so recklessly stupid to head butt a London bus and expect to win. Police nearby, dealing with a different incident, ran to restrain him. After giving statements, we were turfed off the damaged bus as it went out of service.
On the bus in the first place because there were no taxis to be had in the rain, I went for a sandwich and a cuppa, to warm up for what would be a far longer night than I'd planned. Half an hour later walking back to the bus stop, there the guy still was, screaming and struggling, face pressed into the road by the policeman who was wrestling to hold him in his unhinged state of aggression.
People stood and tutted at the cop and wondered what this boy could have done to have earned such treatment. As I looked at the policeman cradling the mad boy's head, speaking softly to him to prevent him from bashing his skull further or thrashing into oncoming traffic, I just wondered how much heart a person had to have to do this job night after night, and if, when he went home, there would be anyone to cradle the officer's head and speak words to soothe him against the mad men of the world.