The police officer who was caught on video striking a man during the G20 protests last year who later died will not face criminal charges, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today.
Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said there was "no realistic prospect" of a conviction, because of a conflict between the two postmortems carried out after Tomlinson's death last year.
The newspaper seller died following the demonstrations on 1 April 2009 in central London. The official account that he died from a heart attack was undermined when the Guardian obtained video footage showing a riot officer striking the 47-year-old with a baton and shoving him to the ground shortly before he collapsed and died.
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced this morning that the police officer would not face a criminal trial.
The decision will enrage Tomlinson's family, who believe the officer's attack had contributed to the death. They had wanted a charge of manslaughter to be brought.
The family went to the headquarters of the CPS in London to be told of the decision. The police officer, who is suspended from duty, was told at the same time. He could still face disciplinary action.
Tomlinson had his hands in his pockets and his back to the officer when he was hit.The video footage suggests that no other police officer went to his aid and it was left to a bystander to lift him to his feet. He appeared to stumble about 100 metres down Cornhill, clutching his side, before collapsing a second time.
Police initially led Tomlinson's wife and nine children to believe he died of a heart attack after being caught up in the demonstration. In statements to the press, police claimed attempts by officers to save his life by resuscitation were impeded by protesters.
The first police account that he died from a heart attack was confirmed by a pathologist, Freddy Patel, in the initial postmortem.
But a second postmortem, conducted on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), found Tomlinson died from internal bleeding.
The CPS announcement comes five years to the day since another landmark incident involving police use of force. On 22 July 2005, officers shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes after mistaking him for a terrorist who was about to detonate a bomb. Then, the family of the innocent Brazilian criticised the CPS for failing to bring criminal charges against any individual.
The Tomlinson family had criticised the time it took the CPS to reach their decision. The investigation was conducted by the IPCC. Investigators are understood to have reached a clear view as to whether or not enough evidence existed to support criminal charges.
They were able to complete their inquiries in just four months and submitted a file to the CPS by August.
Key to the investigation were hundreds of hours of footage and thousands of images shot by bystanders at the protest, which enabled them to piece together Tomlinson's last 30 minutes alive.
CPS officials had assured the family they would decide on whether to prosecute the officer – and on what charge – by Christmas 2009.
The CPS has given various explanations for the delays, and claim they have had to return to the IPCC for clarification several times on different issues.
It is also understood that there have been complications surrounding the evidence of an expert witness.
The IPCC itself was late in mounting an inquiry, claiming there was nothing suspicious about the death for almost a week until the release of footage of the incident obtained by the Guardian forced a U-turn.
Source: The Grauniad (video there)
Also, see this piece by the amazing Laurie Penny on the ruling @ New Statesman
No real surprises, just dull anger and hate. Fuck the police. Seriously.
ETA: Lawyers are challenging the decision - all hope's not lost quite yet.