Before I start this rant I must clarify that in my opinion being a member of any police force would be a very difficult job, and not one you can ever take a holiday from. There seems to be very little reward, much scrutiny, and impossible conditions created by poor Government support in many jurisdictions and constant cut-backs. Anyone who knows me would also know that I am often in complete disagreement with the way many individual police officers handle matters and this is one of them. I must say that I disagree with the decision handed down today by the Crown Prosecution Service that the police officer who pushed over a protestor that later died will be facing charges of Manslaughter.
At a protest in London in April 2009, Ian Tomlinson was pushed to the ground by PC Simon Harwood. There was footage of this which has been played over and over again by UK news channels throughout the inquest into his death. In the extended version of this footage Mr Tomlinson actually sits up and also walks away after being pushed, although looking shaken. While I see the police officer’s actions as incredibly excessive I don’t see the causal link between a man being pushed over, and the man having a heart attack minutes later. If any reasonable person were to consider the ramifications of pushing someone over, I don’t believe that suffering a cardiac arrest/ death would feature, even with the force exhibited by the police officer.
Watch the video for yourself.
I do believe that PC Simon Harwood should be disciplined for extremely excessive force, maybe assault and most likely removed from the police force but I don't feel Manslaughter is the appropriate charge. If, on the slim chance, he is convicted there will be flow on effects further reducing the effectiveness of police which could only be detrimental to order within society.
Holding police accountable for their actions is a rare sight for the general public; the last inquest I remember was that of Mark Saunders, the Lawyer who was shot and killed by police marksmen after what seems like a series of avoidable mis-communications within police ranks. The inquest was run with the 3 marksmen remaining anonymous and ultimately cleared. From a general public point of view these things look like they’re just swept under the carpet. There are plenty of police actions which could be looked into but I hope this officer facing Manslaughter doesn’t receive unduly harsh penalties as a result of previous unjust acquittals...