Unreasonable Force

By DeusExMacintosh

PC Simon Harwood cleared of Ian Tomlinson manslaughter

A police officer who hit Ian Tomlinson with a baton and pushed him to the ground at the G20 protests has been found not guilty of manslaughter.

PC Simon Harwood, 45, of south London, denied the manslaughter, in April 2009, of Mr Tomlinson, 47, on the grounds that he used reasonable force.

Mr Tomlinson, was pushed as he walked away from a police line in the City of London. He later collapsed and died.

His family said they would be pursuing the case in a civil court. It is not clear if that will be against PC Harwood as an individual or against the Metropolitan Police.

“After the unlawful killing verdict at the inquest last year, we expected to hear a guilty verdict – not a not guilty verdict and it really hurts,” Mr Tomlinson’s stepson Paul King, said outside the court.

“It’s not the end, we are not giving up for justice for Ian.”

Members of Mr Tomlinson’s family cried in the public gallery as the verdict was delivered at Southwark Crown Court.

PC Harwood, in the dock, and his wife, in the public gallery, also cried.

The jury of five men and seven women had considered their verdict for four days.

BBC News


  1. Posted July 21, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    When you have riots on the streets it is unreasonable to expect that police officers will always be able to correctly judge what is sufficient force to subdue but not fatally harm a miscreant. So it sounds to me like this is a just outcome.

  2. Posted July 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Court evidence recorded that the poor SLAUGHTERED man had

    his hands in his pockets

    when struck by the police officer.
    That must have been a terrifying threat to PC Thug who used his baton to bring the man to the ground by striking him in the legs.

    Part 2 of this abomination is that the jury was prevented from knowing that PC Thug had a devious history of other violence.
    I like to think that every decent person will commit his face to memory and never serve him food or movie tickets or any service in their power to withold. scum.

    *failing to be anodyne*

  3. kvd
    Posted July 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’ve only just now noticed the apostrophe in front of king. Pictures might tell a thousand words, but words can be pretty telling.

  4. Posted July 22, 2012 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    I don’t know enough about his priors, but having seen the footage of him hitting an unarmed man from behind with a baton in what seems to be an entirely unprovoked attack, my personal opinion is that PC Harwood has no business being in the police and certainly not the TSG. I’m hoping the disciplinary panel will take care of that shortly.

  5. derrida derider
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s not so much the acquittal itself that’s outrageous. A jury keen to give a uniformed defendant the benefit of any doubt might decide he could not reasonably have foreseen the results of his unprovoked attack or that the death was a coincidence (eg heart attack), not a consequence. It is the stated grounds that are outrageous.

    There was no way that was “reasonable force” for any reasonable definition of “reasonable”. To call such behaviour reasonable is to invite more attacks by thugs in uniform on the public it is supposed to protect. It means the thug cannot even be disciplined for common assault.

  6. Posted July 26, 2012 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    Iain @1: this death occurred during the policing of the G20 protests using the controversial policy of “kettling” protestors taking part in peaceful demonstrations, not during any kind of riots. Tomlinson was a paper-seller trying to find a route home through the blocked streets and had nothing to do with the protests.

    The Met do seem to have difficulty telling the difference between a riot and a protest and ended up policing the G20 protests like a riot, and last summer’s riots like a protest, which has made them immensely unpopular with the public and probably feeling that they can’t win.

    But I’m afraid I’m also with DD. There is nothing ‘reasonable’ about hitting a man from behind in an unprovoked attack. We ask the officers in the TSG to go into extremely violent and changeable situations and need to be able to trust them to stay professional and self-controlled under immense pressure. I just think this officer has proven that we can’t trust him in those kinds of situations. If he’d chosen to go into the army that extra aggression and physical power would be useful, but in a civilian police service it’s a liability.

    I can’t imagine what it feels like to know that an essentially stupid error on your own part has caused another man’s death, though. Poor bastard.

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