See the article by David Allen Green - New Statesman 19th July.
At the time of the incident, the G20 conference was taking place in London and was being met with vehement protests. The Police were out in considerable strength and their number included several dog handlers. Mr Tomlinson was not a protester - merely a man going about his lawful business. PC Harwood was one of a group of officers. He came behind Mr Tomlinson and struck him with a baton and then, immediately afterwards, pushed Mr Tomlinson in the back causing him to fall to the ground. Mr Tomlinson fell
on his right side. He was helped to his feet (by another person - not by the Police) and then walked away a short distance before collapsing and dying. An inquest jury held that Mr Tomlinson's death was unlawful killing - Tomlinson Inquest.
Youtube shows the incident
|Ian Tomlinson being assisted as Police||watch|
There were considerable problems with the medical evidence as to cause of death since the first post mortem was badly conducted - Telegraph 19th July 2012.
A decision made by the CPS not to prosecute was reversed after the inquest returned an unlawful killing verdict - see discussion here.
According to data published by The Guardian, over 1400 people in England and Wales have died in police custody or following police contact since 1990. Also, writing in The Guardian, Duncan Campbell argues that the case still holds many lessons for the Police. The trial judge's stance on information about the case published in the media is also raising concerns about reporting of cases - Guardian 19th July.
The twists and turns of this matter may be read on Wikipedia. There are many disturbing features particularly relating to the length of time it took to get the case to trial and the post mortem process. Also, given the "patterned bruising" on Mr Tomlinson's leg, I remain critical of the failure of the CPS to add a charge of "actual bodily harm" to the indictment - see here. (A charge of "common assault" could not be brought once 6 months had elapsed from the incident).
Inevitably, we will all have a personal view about this case and also about the conduct of the officers who merely stood by and did not help Mr Tomlinson when he was on the ground. However, we should guard against coming to the conclusion that the jury ought to have found PC Harwood guilty. The jury heard all the evidence presented to them. (We know that the judge - Fulford J - ruled that Harwood's disciplinary record - see here - was not to be disclosed to the jury). We cannot know the reasoning of the jury since juries do not give reasoned decisions. However, it may be that the jury was not satisfied - so that it could be sure - that Harwood's actions were the cause in law of Mr Tomlinson's death. However that may be, if we believe in jury trial - (and I do) - then we cannot pick and choose which verdicts we accept.
A Police Misconduct hearing is scheduled to take place in September and will be held in public (as argued for here) - see Independent Police Complaints Commission statement of 19th July.
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
"This verdict is a damning reflection of the systemic problems inherent in the current investigation system where deaths following police use of force are not treated as potential crimes. This failure has profound consequences on the proper functioning of the justice system in relation to such deaths.
"It is vital that the rule of law is upheld and applies equally to all, including police officers, and that they do not believe that they can act with impunity.
"For too long there has been a pattern of cases where inquest juries have found overwhelming evidence of unlawful and excessive use of force or gross neglect and yet no police officer either at an individual or senior management level has been held responsible."
The ruling of Fulford J relating to publication by the Mail Online of alleged earlier incidents of violence on the part of PC Harwood is here.
* (The Criminal Law Act 1977 s.56 altered the law so that at a coroner's inquest touching the death of a person who came by his death by murder, manslaughter or infanticide, the purpose of the proceedings shall not include the finding of any person guilty of the murder, manslaughter or infanticide; and accordingly a coroner's inquisition shall in no case charge a person with any of those offences.)