Wednesday, May 04, 2011

British riot cop faces criminal charge over 'unlawful killing'

Not mentioned below is that the cop concerned already had a record as a thug. He should not have been allowed back into the police force. He just should not have been there on that day. Those who put him into the job as a riot cop have a lot to answer for too

Police Constable Simon Harwood, the officer who violently shoved the homeless newspaper seller, Ian Tomlinson, is facing disciplinary action and the prospect of a criminal charge after a coroner's jury yesterday returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Mr Tomlinson collapsed and died minutes after being pushed over and struck with a police baton, on the fringe of a demonstration that accompanied the G20 summit in London in April 2009.

Footage of his last minutes showed him to be an ambling figure, wandering past police lines with his hands in his pockets, posing no apparent threat.

But his demeanour angered the police constable who thought he was being "almost defiant". A jury at the end of a five-week inquest ruled that PC Harwood acted "illegally, recklessly and dangerously" in shoving Mr Tomlinson to the ground and used "excessive and unreasonable" force in hitting him with a baton

PC Harwood, a member of Scotland Yard's territorial support group, was told last July that he would not face charges over the death of Mr Tomlinson, which Scotland Yard initially attributed to "natural causes". But yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, promised a "thorough review" of the decision not to prosecute.

Mr Tomlinson was a 47-year-old alcoholic with a liver disease, who was on his way to a hostel when he shuffled past police lines. His widow, Julia, told the inquest he usually walked with head bowed and hands in pockets. "This was partly because he had limited use of one of his hands – an old injury," she said. "But I would also think it [was] because he didn't like to impose himself in a situation and liked to show that he was no bother."

His family told the inquest that despite his alcoholism he had been a loving father, but drifted away from the family into heavy drinking, possibly because of a difficult childhood in Derbyshire.

Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick said: "It is a matter of deep regret that the actions of an Metropolitan Police Service officer have been found to have caused the death of a member of the public." She said misconduct proceedings would be opened against PC Harwood.

Paul King, Mr Tomlinson's stepson, said he and his relatives hope that the policeman will now face a charge of manslaughter. "After two years, we're really grateful that the inquest process has made a strong statement about how Ian died," he said. "We are grateful to the jury and the coroner and we think the jury finding speaks for itself in the verdict of unlawful killing."

The verdict discredited the findings of Dr Freddy Patel, the pathologist who said Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack. Two other pathologists attributed his death to internal bleeding. Dr Patel has been sanctioned twice by the General Medical Council and is suspended from the Home Office register.

Original report here

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