The police officer implicated in the assault and death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests last year will face no charges, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today.
Angry protests greeted the decision not to press charges, with the United Campaign Against Police Violence warning last night that this outcome would mean “stepping up [their] campaign for justice”.
The CPS defended their decision by arguing that the medical evidence was inconclusive and could not prove that Tomlinson died as a result of the blow administered to him by the police officer.
Interesting then, that two of the three post-mortems conducted into Tomlinson’s death agree that it was caused by internal bleeding. As even the BBC’s Dominic Casciani points out, that means 2/3 of the medical evidence points towards the police officer in question being directly implicated in Tomlinson’s death; more than sufficient for the CPS to proceed with the case.
Shockingly the officer - originally to be charged with manslaughter - also escaped the lesser charge of assault, despite clear evidence from the Guardian and other sources showing that Tomlinson was attacked unprovoked by the armoured officer.
This is not the first time that the police have evaded justice - the cases of Jean Charles de Menezes and Blair Peach can tell us that, as well as the scores of young Asian men imprisoned after the Gaza protests last year whilst the police officers who beat them were never brought to court.
This serves as yet another clear example of the disparity of power in society. Physically resist being kettled and attacked by police officers and you’ll be up in court for assaulting a police officer. Beat an innocent man with a truncheon until he dies from internal bleeding and you’ll walk out of court and straight back into the police force. Fiddle your benefit forms because £70 a week is nowhere near enough to live on and you’re the worst kind of state-scrounging scum; dodge corporation tax when you’re churning out billion-pound profits and you’re a thrifty, responsible entrepreneur. The list goes on.
The particularly galling aspect of this case, though, is the absolute brazenness of it; there’s no attempt to build up a narrative about the difficulties and responsibilities the police have to bear, or an appeal for understanding from a man who made a bad decision. There are simply out-and-out lies, outlined above, and incompetence - the officer can’t be charged for assault because the offence carries a six-month time limit, but there were no moves to prosecute him within the time frame after the attack.
But public anger towards police seems to be growing and growing - in recent years we have seen police shoot an innocent man seven times in the head; brutally attack Climate Camp protestors chanting ‘this is not a riot’ with their hands in the air; and most recently set free Raoul Moat, a man who warned numerous times that he would shoot his ex-partner upon release. Protests against police violence have been sporadic but determined, and justice campaigns for those murdered by police continue. Public sympathy is waning and waning. With the anger and hurt expressed by the families of those murdered by the police, and the renewed determination from organisations defending the right to protest, perhaps this public antipathy can be turned into an organised resistance to police brutality and the lies that accompany it.