Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Thug Officer Caught On Camera

Unfortunately Britain has its fair share of thugs and bully boys who lash out without provocation and bring fright to the general population. Of course we also have people who do that who are not police officers but once again the news is full of a police officer who for no reason, hit out at an innocent citizen only this time with fatal consequences.
When news broke that Ian Tomlinson had died during the G20 protests, the Metropolitan police put out a statement that they had tried to help the stricken man. Eye witnesses quickly came forward that told of police attacking Mr Tomlinson prior to his collapse and then the condemning video footage of Mr Tomlinson walking past a small group of police on his way home from work, hands in pockets and not even looking in their direction.
Without provocation, a policeman armed in riot gear and wielding a baton, hit him from behind twice across the back of the legs and then threw him violently to the ground.
Minutes later and 50 yards further down the road, Mr Tomlinson collapsed and died.
As we saw at the trial of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes when a catalogue of police errors led to an innocent man being slain in horrific fashion on a subway train, the MET are not slow when it comes to applying the whitewash although the Police watchdog has reversed its decision to allow the police to investigate the death themselves and have initiated a full criminal enquiry and ordered a second postmortem examination. The first attributed his death to natural causes.
I don't want to give the false impression that all the police are mindless thugs but stories emerge with frightening regularity of police brutality, racism and negligence. They do have a tough job controlling thousands of protesters at times but when you see officers in full riot gear wading into the crowd, courageously punching women and frantically wielding their batons you realise that once they think that cameras are looking the other way, they are as much thugs as the idiots smashing windows and throwing bottles.
At the Jean Charles de Menezes case the police tried to discredit and put out misinformation about the victim prior to the police trial, if they try the same trick with Mr Tomlinson it won't wash. I hope that they don't even begin to try and justify this because it is indefensible and with the faith in the police force to do the right thing already low, this officer should not only be drummed out of the force but face criminal proceedings.
Ironic that the worse violence came from the very people there to stop it.


Noah "Nog" said...

I can't really get a good look at what the guy was doing right before he got pushed down, but even given the shaky camera job I could tell that he was not acting as I would have in the situation.

He did have his hands in his pockets and he did not remove them as someone would reasonably do when the officers came up and first interacted with him. He seemed to have his hands suspiciously in his pockets even as the officer shoved him down.
This might give the reasonable indication that he had a weapon of some sort.

And, he was walking rather strangely. He also seemed to have stopped and lingered in front of the group of cops for awhile. Notice that no one else was around the cops like that?
Perhaps he was not so innocent after all, or at least could reasonably be thought of as a potential threat.

Further, from the video it does not seem as if the cops did anything unnecessarily aggressive given the suspicious behavior of Tomlinson and the possibility that he had a weapon in one of his pockets.

Further the narrator "frames" the case in an extremely suspicious and almost certainly biased way. It is not therefore acceptable to take the reliability of the news source as given.

I'd say it's pretty far from an open and shut case, and as far as the laws of the Anglo-Saxons are concerned, the cops are "innocent until proven guilty". This video is certainly not enough evidence to substantiate that the officers committed a crime of any sort.

If someone dies of a push for picking a fight with 10 cops who reasonably think he has a weapon in one of his hands, I'd say that's more of a Darwin Award on his part than a crime on theirs.

Generally it is best to figure out what one is to lynch someone for before joining a lynch-mob. But try telling a mob that.


Cheezy said...

David Aaronovitch hits it on the head when he says it's the very fact that Tomlinson was isolated which should have mitigated against him being a victim of common assault:

"But what was it about Mr Tomlinson's behaviour last week that could possibly justify him being pushed to the floor? Was the officer afraid that this very ordinary and - at that moment - isolated man was suddenly going to metamorphose into Super-rioter, rallying the forces of international anarchism (all 25 of them) and bringing down the towers of Mammon?

Or was the policeman fed up because, hands in pockets, Mr Tomlinson was not clearing the area with quite enough dispatch? It really doesn't matter. The public will cut the police some slack for making mistakes, even terrible ones, in desperate circumstances. It will not agree to being assaulted for the crime of being mildly annoying."

I saw a lot of what happened down there on that day, and I basically sympathised with the police, mainly because a certain number of people turned up with the main intention of provoking a response from them (although that was mainly outside the B of E and RBS, where this wasn't)...

However the instinctive lying that always follows the police being accused of something ('there was no confrontation with Mr Tomlinson before he died') is as depressing as it is predictable. It's exactly what they did after Stockwell and Forest Gate too...

(I have some excellent magic beans for anyone who instinctively believes the words of the police immediately after they've killed someone).

So there's certainly a case to answer here - by our courts, not a lynch mob.

Lucy said...

This video is possibly not the best one around nog, there are others that show it from other angles and the officer striking him twice with full force before shoving him over.
I don't buy your possible explanation that the officer considered him a threat because he had his hands in his pockets, he was walking in the opposite direction and none of the other officers around him were concerned enough to tackle him.
Also notice that the policeman concerned has his face covered and has removed his identification shoulder numbers, what possible explanation could there be for that apart from him not wanting to be recognised?

I don't like to keep bashing the police Cheesy, it is just the few bad eggs, but the covering up that goes on afterwards is sickening. How they acted after the Jean Charles de Menezes murder was disgraceful but it is becoming more common for police crimes to be brushed under the carpet.