HARRY STANLEY was shot through the head by armed Metropolitan Police officers in September 1999, close to his home in Hackney, east London. The police claimed they thought he was armed. He was not. The only thing he was carrying was a coffee table leg in a plastic bag.
The police knew Harry's identity, but they did not tell his wife, Irene, about the killing until the next day. Harry's own children unknowingly passed his body as it lay partially covered on the pavement. The inquest was shown evidence which indicated that Harry Stanley must have been facing away from the officers when he was killed.
But the coroner, Dr Stephen Chan, made no reference to this evidence when he summed up. He told the jury that they should come to their verdict based on what they thought the officers believed when they shot Harry Stanley. He ruled out the possibility of an 'unlawful killing' verdict. The jurors only had two options-lawful killing or open verdict. They returned an open verdict.
In December 2000 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced there was 'insufficient evidence' to charge the two police officers who killed Harry. Irene Stanley said after the inquest, 'The officers stood in the dock and never even said sorry or showed any remorse.'
'I CAME here for justice, having waited two and a half years for this inquest. To me it was unlawful killing, as my husband was an unarmed man. I am going to carry on fighting for justice for Harry. Despite the coroner, the jury, who were members of the public and ordinary people, did not decide that the two officers who shot Harry killed him lawfully.'
IRENE STANLEY, wife of Harry
FIVE POLICE officers walked free from Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough on Friday of last week.
The judge dismissed the case without putting it to the jury, saying that the prosecution could not prove 'recklessness'. Christopher Alder, a black former soldier, died on the floor of Queen's Road police station in Hull on 1 April 1998. He was unconscious when he arrived at the station. A CCTV video showed police officers dragging him along the floor to the custody suite.
He was left on the floor, handcuffed, with his trousers round his ankles. The video, which was played in court, shows that police officers did nothing for 12 minutes while Christopher lay on the floor. The video shows police officers laughing and chatting. They say that Christopher is 'play acting'.
Christopher only gets medical attention when the ambulance crew arrive. One police officer is heard whistling as the paramedics pump Christopher's chest.
The jury at the inquest two years ago returned a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. They had also watched the harrowing video that showed Christopher dying. The five police officers on trial for manslaughter had been suspended on full pay for four years.
The suspensions were immediately lifted after the case collapsed on Friday, and they will return to desk duties.
The questions not answered
'THIS IS another stumbling block, on top of all the other obstacles we have had to face. None of the five police officers gave evidence during the trial. I'm left asking as many questions as when my brother died in April 1998. I need to know why the police van that carried Christopher to Hull police station was cleaned after his death. Why did no one tell us why the police destroyed Christopher's clothes? If there is nothing to hide, the police video that shows my brother's dying moments should be shown to the public.'
JANET ALDER, Christopher's sister
Next week in Socialist Worker
Interview with Satpal Ram, just released after 16 years in jail. Make sure of your copy