Thu, Aug 06, 2009 - Page 6 News List

London Met police officer faces charge of manslaughter


Prosecutors have been asked to consider whether the London Metropolitan police (the Met) officer, who attacked 47-year-old newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 demonstration in London in April, should be charged with manslaughter.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced on Tuesday that it had completed its criminal inquiry and handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales, which will now evaluate whether there is enough evidence to bring charges and whether a trial would be in the public interest.

The focus of the IPCC inquiry was on an officer in the Met’s territorial support group (TSG) caught on film striking Tomlinson with a baton and shoving him to the ground near the Bank of England on 1 April. Moments later he collapsed and died of internal bleeding.

Central to the evidence being considered by the director of public prosecutions is a video of the attack, which was shot by a New York hedge fund manager and broadcast by the Guardian. The footage triggered the criminal inquiry by the IPCC and a wholesale review of national policing strategy at demonstrations.

On Tuesday, relatives of Tomlinson urged prosecutors to act quickly and to charge the officer so that a jury could be presented with all the evidence.

His widow, Julia, said: “Video footage made it clear to us and everyone else that Ian was the victim of an unprovoked assault by a police officer. If there is going to be any justice then it must be left for a jury to decide if the police officer is guilty of killing Ian.”

“I hope the CPS will get the case in front of a jury as soon as possible,” she said.

The officer, understood to be a van driver in the TSG, was questioned by IPCC investigators under caution for manslaughter in April.

No police officer has ever been successfully convicted for manslaughter for actions committed while executing his or her duty.

Anyone charged and convicted of manslaughter faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Ian Tomlinson had been attempting to find a route home from work through the protests when he was attacked from behind at 7:20pm next to the Royal Exchange buildings, near the Bank of England. He had his hands in his pockets and was walking away from lines of police.

The badge numbers of the officer who struck him were covered, and his face was concealed beneath a balaclava. The officer walked away after striking Tomlinson and none of his colleagues went to the 47-year-old’s aid. He was helped to his feet by a bystander, but collapsed and died moments later.

The IPCC was heavily criticized for waiting six days before launching a criminal inquiry into Tomlinson’s death. On Tuesday it said the case was one of the largest it had ever undertaken — more than 40 IPCC investigators and other members of staff from all five regional offices were involved in the case, it said.

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