Devastated family members stormed out of an inquest after the police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground during the G20 protests said he wanted to “help” them.
Judge Peter Thornton warned PC Simon Harwood he was not obliged to answer any questions which might incriminate him.
He replied: “I’m very aware of that. I’m here as a witness to help with the inquest and also to give some sort of answers to help the family.
“So I’m here to answer questions, just to help.”
At this, family members including stepson Paul King walked out of the hearing room, returning a short while later.
Pc Harwood, part of the Met’s specialist Territorial Support Group (TSG), was caught on film pushing Mr Tomlinson to the ground in Cornhill, central London, during the protests two years ago.
The footage shows Mr Tomlinson – who lived in Matlock until he was 17 - turning away from a line of officers with his hands in his pockets before he is shoved in the back.
The newspaper seller was helped to his feet but collapsed and died about 100 yards away shortly afterwards.
Pc Harwood told the inquest, at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street, London, that at one point in the afternoon he had feared for his own life when a hostile crowd turned on him. The hearing continues.