Moment cop car 'swerved across road' and hit economist's son
5th May 2022

Moment cop car ‘swerved across road’ and hit economist’s son: Dashcam footage reveals 27-year-old run into street before unmarked police vehicle ‘mowed him down’… and officers ‘handcuffed him as he lay dying’

  • Dashcam video ‘shows police car swerving across road and mowing down the son of a university professor’
  • Arthur Holscher-Ermert died after he was hit by unmarked BMW in Peacehaven, East Sussex on Saturday 
  • Officers had been pursuit of the amateur footballer when he abandoned his car and fled on foot
  • Mr Holscher-Ermert’s father Professor Jens Holscher has threatened to sue Sussex Police
  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into the death 

Dashcam video appears to show the moment a police car swerved across the road and mowed down the son of a university professor.

Arthur Holscher-Ermert, 27, died after he was hit by an unmarked black BMW in Peacehaven, East Sussex at around 11pm on Saturday night.

Officers had been pursuit of the amateur footballer when he abandoned his car and fled on foot, with footage obtained by The Times showing the police BMW hitting Mr Holscher-Ermert as he tried to run across a road. The front of the car seems to cross the centre line as it hits him.

Witnesses claimed they saw officers put handcuffs on Mr Holscher-Ermert as he lay face down in the road in a pool of his own blood, crying out for help.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into the death. 

Mr Holscher-Ermert’s family have threatened to sue Sussex Police and have demanded a senior police officer apologise for the death. 

Video footage of the immediate aftermath of the incident appears to show police kneeling on Mr Holscher-Ermert’s back as he lies face down in the road – as a panicked onlooker shouts at the officers: ‘You’ve killed the man, you’ve killed the man’. A second clip shows Mr Holscher-Ermert on his back while an officer attempts CPR on the dying man. 

One friend said he believed the police had been pursuing Mr Holscher-Ermert because he had been driving without insurance. However, video shows he was struck on foot.  

Mr Holscher-Ermert’s older brother Karl has claimed that the 27-year-old was going to a nearby fast food restaurant when he was hit by the car. Other friends claimed he had stepped out to get a burger at Big Mouths Burger Bar on South Coast Road when the incident took place.

Professor Jens Holscher, Mr Holscher-Ermert’s father, said: ‘I’m still in a state of shock. They should have explained the circumstances, and I’m still not quite clear on what happened. Apparently there was a chase, and we still don’t know whether it was an accident.’ 

Footage appears to show a police BMW hitting Arthur Holscher-Ermert as he tried to run across a road. The front of the car seems to cross the centre line as it hits him

Arthur Holscher-Ermert (left) with his German-born father Professor Jens Holscher (right)

Amateur footballer Arthur Holscher-Ermert, who died after he was hit by an unmarked black BMW vehicle in Peacehaven

Officers and emergency services near Dorothy Avenue in Peacehaven on Saturday at around 11.10pm 

Mr Holscher-Ermert was hit by an unmarked police car near Dorothy Avenue in Peacehaven

The 27-year-old was killed by the vehicle near the junction of Dorothy Avenue in Peacehaven, East Sussex

Lucy McKay, from the charity Inquest, said: ‘Any use of police force, any police pursuit on the road has potential to cause death, and has to be proportionate to the circumstances. 

‘This case raises serious questions about what those circumstances were, why the decisions were made, and how this man came to his death.’

Sussex Police has said the IOPC is investigating and would handle contacts with the family.

Prof Holscher previously told MailOnline he had not received an apology from Sussex Police and said that the IOPC told him the officer who drove the unmarked car has not been suspended from duty.

The head of department for economics at Bournemouth University was on holiday in France with partner when he received a phone call early on Sunday from a police officer explaining his son had died in an ‘accident’.

Family set up fundraiser for Arthur’s funeral 

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover the costs of Arthur’s funeral

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover the costs of Arthur’s funeral.

In a post, Holly Horgan said: ‘Arthur was a very loved brother, son and friend who tragically lost his life at the hands of Sussex police.

This fundraiser is to help with funds for Arthur’s funeral. All donations will be handed to Karl.’

Writing on Facebook, Karl said: ‘A close friend of mine and Arthur’s has set this up for us, I know a lot of people wanted to contribute towards funeral costs and legal fees etc so here is a go fund me page set up for any donations people wanted to make’.

The German-born lecturer, 60, said: ‘It is so difficult to comprehend – I cannot believe it. I cannot understand what is happening at the moment. We are so disturbed – that is my little son and nothing is being done. We believe there is a serious fault on the police side and we will take legal action immediately. 

‘We haven’t even had an apology – how low can you get? We want him [the officer responsible] taken off the street.’

Prof Holscher’s partner Sonia Drews, 68, said that the IOPC told them it would take six months to conclude their investigation, during which time there was ‘no reason’ to suspend the officer involved in Mr Holscher-Ermert’s death.

She said: ‘How can it take six months? Why not take the driver off the street? He is still on duty. He should be suspended now so he can’t kill the next person but he gets the support of the police. He thinks he is right.’

Ms Drews explained Mr Holscher-Ermert and Karl had grown up in Peacehaven and were well known by the community there. She said that the amateur footballer was full of hope for the future and had been saving to buy a house with his partner. 

‘He wasn’t 80 years old. He was 27 with his whole life ahead of him. He was very happy. He’d found a new girlfriend and they were saving for a house together. He had so many plans for the future,’ she said.

‘Even though he is no longer physically here, he will always be with us – when we come together and remember him he will be present.

‘When we got that phone call we just wanted to wake up, go for breakfast and call Arthur to say: ‘We had a really bad dream but we are so happy you are still here.’

‘We want justice. We know it will not bring Arthur back – but it will stop the man responsible from thinking he’s right. He must apologise.’

A spokesperson for the force said: ‘Sussex Police is fully co-operating with an independent investigation into a fatal road traffic collision in Peacehaven.

‘The incident happened in Dorothy Avenue on Saturday, April 30, and involved a police car and pedestrian. The 27-year-old man sadly died at the scene.

‘The investigation is being led by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and, because of this, Sussex Police is unable to publish any further details.’

Prof Holscher, who has another older son Karl, added that he had no idea why the police had been pursuing his son.

People have left flowers, cards and bottles of beer at a tribute to Mr Holscher-Ermert around the signpost of Bramber Avenue in Peacehaven today and yesterday. 

One woman called the incident ‘appalling’, adding: ‘I’m just totally stunned. What a waste of a young life. It’s appalling. I think Sussex Police need to do something and quick to explain this because they’re losing the respect of everyone round here.’

Another friend said: ‘Apparently he was just on the edge of the road when this unmarked BMW with blue lights came tearing down the road and crossed the carriageway in an attempt to cut off his escape over a grass verge. But instead of blocking him off it looks like they’ve just mown him down and then, as he lay bleeding on the floor, they’ve tried to stick some cuffs on him and he’s died right there and then.

‘Everyone is in shock. He was a lovable guy and would do anything for people. It’s very close-knit community and he’d always help you out.’

Another friend said ‘It’s absolutely devastating. They’re both lovely guys and this is very, very shocking. I don’t know what the cops were doing chasing him but they’ve ended up killing him.’

Thanking the crowd for attending, his older brother Karl is now demanding ‘answers’ from Sussex Police, insisting: ‘None of it adds up’.

Mr Holscher-Ermert told The Argus newspaper: ‘It’s beyond belief. It’s like something out of a movie, none of it feels real. It doesn’t make any sense how he has ended up dead. We will pursue it, we will go as long as it takes and get to the bottom of it. 

Police officers at the scene of the incident near Dorothy Avenue in Peacehaven, May 1, 2022

Officers from Essex Police patrol the perimeter surrounding the scene of the accident, May 1, 2022

‘I want to know what’s happening with the investigation. What I have been left with is a dead brother and a £15,000 funeral bill. Nothing from the police.’

Speaking of his brother, he added: ‘He knew so many people. He had so many friends’ children in his heart, he would buy them trainers. A lot of people where we come from don’t have a lot of money but he had a heart for the community. 

‘He always has had a really kind heart. Unfortunately his girlfriend who has two young children can’t be here today. They are absolutely devastated, not a single police officer has seen them yet. They’re still at home in pieces. I want answers and we’re not getting them. He always has had a really kind heart. Unfortunately his girlfriend who has two young children can’t be here today. 

‘They are absolutely devastated, not a single police officer has seen them yet. They’re still at home in pieces. I want answers and we’re not getting them.’

One witness, who gave his name as Matt, told The Times: ‘A black BMW and a blue Audi came round the corner. Their blue lights came on and the BMW swerved over the road and hit this bloke.’ 

He claimed that Mr Holscher-Ermert was ‘rolling around on the floor in pain and in shock’ – and that police officers ‘were still trying to cuff him’, adding: ‘The copper who was driving the car didn’t know what to do. He tried to say he didn’t do it, but we saw him.’ 

Another man, who gave his name as Jason and said he had been near by at the time of the death, added: ‘The police were judge, jury and executioners on Saturday night.’ 

Paying tribute to Mr Holscher-Ermert on Facebook, his brother Karl said: ‘RIP my baby brother. I don’t really have the words but need to get this out there. Last night at roughly midnight my brother Arthur Hoelscher-Ermert was run over and killed by police on South Coast Road, Peacehaven.  Rest easy up there my boy, look after mum make sure you give her a big squeeze from me.’

Mr Holscher-Ermert had been in trouble with the police before over drugs offences, and has at least one conviction for cannabis possession from 2018. 

An IOPC spokesman said: ‘We have begun an independent investigation into police actions prior to a fatal road traffic collision involving a pedestrian on Dorothy Avenue in Peacehaven, Lewes, on Saturday night. A man in his 20s sadly died at the scene. We were notified of the incident by Sussex Police and sent investigators to the scene and the police post incident procedures to begin our enquiries. Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this time.’

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the man died following a collision with the police vehicle on the A259 at Peacehaven just after 11.10pm.

Chief Superintendent Jo Banks said: ‘Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the man who tragically died in this collision. We recognise the impact of this incident on his family and the local community and we are fully co-operating with the IOPC to ensure a full and fair investigation. The IOPC are liaising with the family and as such we are unable to provide further information.’

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