British constable may be prosecuted for manslaughter

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A police constable serving with the Metropolitan Police Service in London, England may be prosecuted for manslaughter over the death of a bystander at a protest that occurred during the G-20 summit earlier this year.

After concluding what it says is its largest ever investigation, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has sent its file on the death of Ian Tomlinson to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Ian Tomlinson died on April 1, 2009 from injuries sustained when he was allegedly struck and pushed to the ground by a police officer. The CPS will now consider if enough evidence exists and if it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution for manslaughter.

Ian Tomlinson remonstrates with police after being pushed to the ground.
Image: An anonymous American tourist who relinquished his copyright.

Tomlinson was an innocent bystander caught in the police cordon at the G-20 Meltdown protest near the Bank of England. Initially it was claimed by the police that Tomlinson had had no contact with the police, that he had collapsed most probably because of stress and exhaustion, and that protesters had attacked police officers trying to give him first aid. The first of two postmortems concluded that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack.

Following the publication of the postmortem, an American tourist handed over film footage of the moments leading up to Ian Tomlinson's death to The Guardian newspaper. This footage showed a police constable of the Territorial Support Group striking Tomlinson across the legs with his baton before pushing him to the ground. The Guardian story prompted other news organisations including Channel 4 to review their own recordings of the protest. The retrieved footage from a number of sources and the testimony of witnesses produced evidence that contradicted the veracity of all aspects of the police version of events.

Subsequent to these revelations a second postmortem was held, this second postmortem concluding that internal injuries sustained as a result of his fall were the most likely cause of Tomlinson's death.

A request was made by the police service for the police constable filmed to make himself known, an individual came forward and was questioned under caution. He remains suspended from duty.