Paper seller 'not posing a threat'

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The Independent Online

A police woman told newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson after he was shoved to the ground: "It's obvious mate, you can't come through", an inquest into his death heard today.

Pc Kerry Smith said Mr Tomlinson was not posing a threat to police and she could tell he was not a demonstrator, but he had been repeatedly told he could not come past the cordon.

She said she was shocked by the forcefulness of the push which sent the 47-year-old to the ground and had seen no reason why such an action might have been necessary.

On the second anniversary of Mr Tomlinson's death, she told the inquest at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street, London: "He sat up and looked towards us and he said 'I just wanted to go home'.

"I said 'It's obvious mate, you can't come through'."

Pc Smith, based in Fulham, with more than seven years' service in the Met, wrote in notes after the incident: "Officer left of me pushed him. He went forward. Thought he hit head. Expected blood.

"He sat up, looked around, said 'I just want to go home'. Dazed, shocked.

"I said 'Mate, it's obvious, you can't go that way'."

Pathologist Dr Freddy Patel found Mr Tomlinson died of natural causes after he collapsed during the G20 protests in London on April 1 2009.

But amateur video footage later showed shortly before his death he was pushed in the back by Pc Simon Harwood and landed heavily on the ground.

He got up and staggered about 100 yards before falling to the ground for the final time.

On the fourth day of evidence, Pc Smith said the crowd in the Cornhill area of London had become more volatile in the early evening.

At one point the public order officer, assigned as a driver on the day, had drawn her own telescopic baton and struck a protester in the arm because she feared being attacked.

Mr Tomlinson approached her police line as they tried to clear the Royal Exchange passage, saying he wanted to get through.

Pc Smith said: "To me he wasn't aggressive or swearing. He didn't seem rude as such."

She said she and other officers had told him to get back and tried to send him in another direction but he was not moving.

She continued: "After a bit of a pause he then did turn around.

"He was pushed then by a police officer on his left shoulder or left upper arm.

"He went forward quite hard. He didn't use his hands to break his fall so appeared to possibly fall on his face."

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."

The inquest heard she said in a statement after the incident that Mr Tomlinson seemed "a bit slow on the uptake" and was "pushing his luck a bit by asking to get through".

She also wrote: "I was shocked by the forcefulness of the push on Mr Tomlinson."

She told the inquest: "I was shocked, yes. However I do not know what the officer had seen or heard prior to pushing Mr Tomlinson."

Mr Ryder 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 Service, also asked if she believed Mr Tomlinson posed a threat to officers.

Pc Smith replied: "I didn't feel so at the time."

The officer also said she had not heard Mr Tomlinson being given any verbal warning before he was shoved.

Judge Peter Thornton QC asked why she had not recorded the incident in her original notes.

She said: "I wasn't directly involved, it was an incident that happened very quickly, and it seemed quite insignificant at the time."

In a statement read to the inquest, Robert Fitch, whose office overlooked the scene, said Mr Tomlinson did not react to the police line despite being close enough for the dogs to bite him and being struck with a baton more than once.

Mr Fitch, a trader with hedge fund Hadron Capital, said: "He looked as if he had had a bit to drink because he was walking slowly with his hands in his pockets."

He said the police line approached him with one of the dogs "close enough to move his trousers".

"I can't say if it bit him but it was close enough to do so.

"The dog was pulling on the lead and the handler was pulling the dog fairly tight.

"Ian did not respond to the dog as everyone else did. He just didn't move very quickly."

He continued: "I saw a police officer step forward and strike Ian on the right knee area two or three times.

"Ian was struck on the leg but he did not seem to respond in any way which was consistent again with my view than Ian was drunk."

Mr Fitch's colleague, Guiseppe Di-Cecio, a hedge fund manager in the same office, said: "He didn't look too good. He appeared almost as if he was drunk or unwell. I thought this because he was moving quite slowly and he was close to the police dogs."

He added: "There was no aggressiveness from Mr Tomlinson towards the police officer and there was no tense situation in that immediate vicinity."

The inquest continues.