Police described the pitch invasion as a riot and said two officers were killed, but survivors accused them of overreacting.
Officers responded with force, kicking and hitting fans with batons, according to witnesses and footage, pushing the spectators back into the stands where many would die after tear gas was fired.
Several witnesses said police stood by and refused to help victims.
Instead, bystanders rushed to help.
Kiosk owner Edy Tanto said he saw people begin to pour out of the stadium when chaos erupted.
He rushed to provide water from his shop to victims whose eyes were stung with the tear gas, which witnesses said police had fired into the stands.
“I couldn’t think straight,” Tanto told AFP as he sat cross-legged on the floor of his shop.
“I just thought of helping them.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced an investigation after the tragedy and called for a safety review of all stadiums.
The Malang police chief was replaced Monday, nine officers were suspended and 19 others were put under investigation, according to police.
But organisers of the match and club officials have also been blamed for the chaos.
Indonesia’s football association also moved Tuesday to sanction Arema FC, fining the club 250 million rupiah (US$16,420) on top of the life bans for two of its officials.
Maike Ira Puspita, the association’s deputy secretary-general, told AFP it had imposed sanctions on the club and its officials “due to the … negligence of the whole situation”.
The association has declined to comment on the police response to a pitch invasion, which has come under increasing fire since the tragedy unfolded.
The Indonesian government has suspended the country’s national football league until the investigation concludes.