A police officer accused of killing an unemployed alcoholic today told a court that he was wrong to have struck a man with a baton and shoved him to the ground during protests in London.
PC Simon Harwood, 45, said that he accepted he had gone over the top in striking Ian Tomlinson but had mistakenly believed that the 47-year-old was walking towards police lines when he hit him. He said in hindsight he “wouldn’t have gone anywhere near” Mr Tomlinson.
During a day of highly-charged evidence, PC Harwood’s voice broke and his wife, Helen, sobbed while he gave evidence at his trial for manslaughter.
Video footage taken of the G20 protests showed PC Harwood sent Mr Tomlinson sprawling during a confrontation on April 1, 2009. Mr Tomlinson is seen remonstrating with police officers before being helped to his feet.
He collapsed on the street about 75 yards away and was dead within an hour of the incident with severe internal injuries, the court has heard.
PC Harwood, during his second day in the witness box today, was asked if he accepted what he did on that day was wrong. He said: “From what I have seen, yes, but not at the time that I engaged with Mr Tomlinson.”
He went on: “Now I have seen all the evidence and am aware of how poorly Mr Tomlinson was, I am sorry that I got it wrong. I shouldn’t have hit him with a baton and pushed him.”
Mr Tomlinson’s family walked out of the court after Pc Harwood listed firearms as one of the available options to him to move the 47-year-old. During cross-examination by Mark Dennis QC, for the prosecution, PC Harwood was asked what he could have done with Mr Tomlinson, who had been drinking all day, and was ambling away from the police lines with his hands in his pockets.
Pc Harwood listed the use of CS spray, his voice, handcuffs, kicks and punches before mentioning firearms, prompting the walkout.
Mr Dennis added: “Might I suggest your conduct on this day seemed to be an exercise of this approach: strike first, ask questions afterwards. Is that unfair?”
Pc Harwood replied: “Yes, I believe it is.”
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