April 7, 2011
Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller knocked down by a police officer at the G20 protests, muttered “the fuckers got me” moments before he died. The inquest into his death has already heard how Tomlinson, a father of nine, was struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by police officer Simon Harwood minutes before he died in the City of London. Describing what may have been Tomlinson’s last words, a bystander told the jury in the case that he watched Tomlinson colllapse about 100 metres from where he had been pushed.
The former City worker Kamran Saleem, now a charity manager, said: “He said something along the lines of ‘They got me, the fuckers got me.’ His voice was more quiet than normal and there was an anger to it but probably more surprised than anything.” The jury, which is sitting at a venue in Fleet Street, London, has heard how Tomlinson was repeatedly turned away from police cordons near the Bank of England. The 47-year-old had been attempting to find his way home from work before he finally encountered Harwood, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s territorial support group (TSG).
Harwood, a van driver who had strayed from his vehicle, has accepted Tomlinson posed no threat to him or anyone else when he struck him. He said he did so because he believed the newspaper seller posed a “breach of the peace” under common law. The heavy push sent Tomlinson sprawling to the ground on Royal Exchange Buildings at around 7.20pm on 1 April 2009. Tomlinson was helped to his feet by a bystander and stumbled along Cornhill for a minute or two before collapsing outside a Starbucks coffee shop. Saleem said he saw Tomlinson stagger along Cornhill “as if he was drunk” before falling to the ground “like a tree”.
“He was kind of swaying as he came up the road, kind of staggering from left to right,” he told Alison Hewitt QC, counsel to the inquest. “Just before I saw him fall over when he was coming up he kind of shook his head as if to like clear his head. “And that was when he fell into the wall on his left-hand side. It was like he was not in charge of his body, it was like a tree falling over. His arms were by his side and there was no reaction when he hit the wall. “It was a forceful impact.” Saleem said people rushed to Tomlinson’s aid and he saw a redness on the man’s head. “I think he was still breathing and his eyes were still open.”
When police medics rushed in to help Tomlinson he started slipping in and out of consciousness and his eyes were “flicking around”. “He had a grey look to him. He was a lot paler than before.” Saleem said protesters had been throwing bottles at the police who rushed to help Tomlinson.
April 1, 2011
Ian Tomlinson was not posing a threat to officers at London’s G20 protests in 2009, a policewoman has told the inquest into his death. Pc Kerry Smith said she could tell the newspaper seller was not a demonstrator and he was not behaving aggressively. But she said Mr Tomlinson had been told repeatedly he could not come past the police cordon. A police officer was filmed pushing the 47-year-old to the ground shortly before he collapsed.
Pc Smith told the inquest in London that Mr Tomlinson “went forward quite hard”. In a statement after the incident, she said she was “shocked” by the force of the push. ‘Go home’ On the the second anniversary of Mr Tomlinson’s death, Pc Smith told the inquest what happened after he had been pushed. “He sat up and looked towards us and he said ‘I just wanted to go home’,” she said. “I said ‘It’s obvious mate, you can’t come through’.”
Under questioning from Matthew Ryder QC, for the Tomlinson family, she said: “I didn’t see him shouting or chanting, he didn’t appear to be with anybody else, so I didn’t think he was a demonstrator.” Mr Ryder also asked: “You didn’t think it was necessary to use any force on Mr Tomlinson, as far as you were concerned?” She replied: “From the dealings I had, no, I didn’t.” Samantha Leek, for the Metropolitan Police, also asked if she believed Mr Tomlinson posed a threat to officers.
Pc Smith replied: “I didn’t feel so at the time.” In a statement read to the inquest, Robert Fitch, whose office overlooked the scene, said Mr Tomlinson “looked as if he had had a bit to drink because he was walking slowly with his hands in his pocket”. “I saw a police officer step forward and strike Ian on the right knee area two or three times,” he said. “Ian was struck on the leg but he did not seem to respond in any way which was consistent again with my view that Ian was drunk.” The inquest, which is sitting at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street, is examining the actions of police, the pathologist and independent investigators.