Outrage followed the news on Thursday of last week that Simon Harwood had been found not guilty of Ian Tomlinson’s manslaughter.
The jury delivered a verdict of ten to two. Outside the court Ian’s son, Paul King, read a statement.
It said, “This is not the end—we are not giving up on justice for Ian. There has to be one formal and final answer to the question ‘who killed Ian?’. And we will now pursue this in the civil court.”
Since 1990 1,447 people have died during or shortly after contact with the police. Not one cop has been convicted of murder or manslaughter.
On the evening of the verdict, people gathered outside the Metropolitan Police headquarters to demand justice for Ian and all those who have died at the hands of the police.
Harwood is a member of the Met’s elite riot squad, the Territorial Support Group (TSG). There are more complaints made against the TSG than any other unit. He has been suspended on full pay since Ian died on 1 April 2009 during the G20 protests.
Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that some 5,241 complaints were made against TSG officers between August 2005 and October 2009. Only nine were “substantiated” after an internal investigation.
It is little wonder that the police seem untouchable. Since the trial concluded, details of ten complaints made against Harwood over a 12-year period have been released.
One complaint was from a 14 year old black woman who said Harwood racially abused her and repeatedly punched her in the neck.
Facing a misconduct charge, Harwood retired on medical grounds from the Metropolitan Police at the age of 35 and was immediately re-employed as a civilian member of staff by Surrey Police. He was never asked about his record of complaints when he moved between jobs in the police.
He was allowed to move back to the Met even after a complaint by a fellow Surrey officer who claimed he went “over the top” and punched a suspect during an arrest. But the case against Harwood was “unsubstantiated”. He then joined the TSG.
The line that Harwood is a bad apple and an exception to the rest of the police has been predictably trotted out. But police violence is a much broader problem.
Even the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said the situation is “shocking”. But this is the same IPCC that repeated the lies of the police when Ian first died, before video footage of Harwood hitting and shoving him from behind emerged.
Ian’s family have vowed to fight on and plan to bring a civil case against the police in the High Court.
Waiting for the truth
Alfie Meadows, who was hit on the head with a police baton during the 2010 student protests, spoke out in the wake of the Harwood verdict.
“The determination of the Tomlinson family to fight for justice against all the odds is an inspiration,” he said.
“We must support them. And we must be on the United Families and Friends Campaign march on 27 October in solidarity with all fighting for justice.”
Tom Maguire is relative of Kingsley Burrell Brown, who died in police custody.
“What happened in the trial showed everyone the division between the way the courts and the IPCC treat the police and ordinary people,” he said.
“Harwood had all those complaints against him. But the jury wasn’t told that. Ian Tomlinson was just a bystander with his back to the police. Harwood shoved him from behind.
“Who does that? The inquest said it was unlawful killing. There are so many families still waiting for the truth. That’s why we’re marching for justice on 18 August in Birmingham.”
Jules Carey, the Tomlison family’s lawyer, will be speaking at the Defend the Right to Protest conference on Sunday 14 October in London. Go to www.defendtherighttoprotest.org