originally by: The Guardian
published: 19 July 2012
PC Simon Harwood has been found not guilty of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson at the 2009 G20 protest.
As Tomlinson walked home from work, hands in his pockets, Harwood hit him with a baton and shoved him to the ground.
The court has seen footage of Harwood’s attack on Tomlinson, who is seen walking away from the police line. As a female officer steps forward to talk to Tomlinson, Harwood passes two police dogs in order to hit and push Tomlinson to the ground. Tomlinson barely has enough time to take his hands out of his pockets to protect himself as he falls. He died shortly afterwards.
Harwood told the court that his actions were justifiable within the context of the widespread disorder of that day, and the jury heard conflicting medical evidence on whether Harwood’s attack had caused Tomlinson’s death.
The Human Rights Act guarantees everyone the right to life. In practice, this has been interpreted as requiring the state to investigate deaths linked to the authorities and hold accountable those responsible for unlawful killings. In spite of this guarantee, in reality, it has proved well nigh impossible to hold anyone accountable for deaths in which police officers may be implicated.