London G20 riot - man killed unlawfully

London - A man caught up in the 2009 London G20 protests was unlawfully killed by a riot squad officer, an inquest jury ruled on Tuesday, re-opening the possibility that the policeman could be prosecuted.

Constable Simon Harwood used "excessive and unreasonable" force in hitting Ian Tomlinson with a baton and shoving him to the ground, the jury said.

After the verdict, State prosecutors said they would conduct a "thorough" review of their earlier decision not to prosecute the policeman.

Tomlinson, 47, a homeless newspaper seller with a history of alcoholism, was walking through a demonstration by thousands of anti-capitalist protesters in the City of London financial district on April 1 2009.

The protesters had gathered ahead of the Group of 20 summit in London, attended by world leaders, but the demonstration turned violent and riot police were sent in.

Tomlinson collapsed and died minutes after being struck. The incident was caught on video by a passer-by.

"We're really grateful that the inquest process has made a strong statement about how Ian died," Tomlinson's stepson Paul King said.

"We think the jury finding speaks for itself."

Closure

He said the verdict was "a bit of closure for the family. It feels like something's being done by some sort of authority and hopefully we'll get the right answers".

"We'd like to go to court and continue with the manslaughter charges."

The family's lawyer Jules Carey said the verdict would seem to many "like a statement of the blindingly obvious".

Jurors rejected the other possible verdicts available to them: misadventure, natural causes and "open".

Inquests in England investigate the factual circumstances of a death, including how the deceased came by their death.

No charges were originally brought against Harwood as the Crown prosecution service said conflicting post-mortem verdicts meant they could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Tomlinson's death was caused by the policeman's actions.

However, the State prosecutors said they would review their decision in light of the evidence heard at the inquest and the conclusions reached by the jury.

'Deep regret'

The Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick said the inquest verdict was a matter of "deep regret" and Harwood would now be subject to misconduct proceedings.

"Policing major public order events is a challenging and difficult task. It has been demonstrated in this case that all officers are accountable for their actions," she said.

"It is in the best interests of all affected that the facts of what happened are fully established."

The so-called kettling tactics used by police in the G20 demonstrations, which involves officers surrounding protesters, triggered much debate at the time and have recently been used to contain student riots in London.

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