British policeman guilty of misconduct over protest death

LONDON - A Scotland Yard officer who was cleared by a British jury of killing a man caught up in the G20 protests in London in 2009 was on Monday found guilty of "gross misconduct" by an internal police panel.

Constable Simon Harwood, 45, had admitted the offence at the police disciplinary hearing over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson.

Harwood was accused of hitting 47-year-old Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground during the demonstrations against the Group of 20 summit in the British capital.

Tomlinson collapsed and later died following the incident with Harwood, but the disciplinary panel said it would not consider whether the officer's actions caused the fatality.

Tomlinson's widow stormed out of the hearing, calling it a "whitewash".

The panel was told that Harwood, who is currently suspended, had twice offered to resign from the force over the incident. The panel will now decide whether he should be sacked.

Tomlinson's death on April 1, 2009 came after he had been trying to walk home but found his usual route blocked by thousands of anti-capitalist protesters and riot police in the City of London financial district.

During the manslaughter trial that concluded in July, Harwood admitted he was "wrong" to hit and push the father-of-nine, who had slept rough for a number of years and was drunk at the time, but said he did not realise how ill Tomlinson was at the time.

He said he believed Tomlinson was being deliberately obstructive and that his use of force was reasonable.

A pathologist initially found that Tomlinson, who was homeless, had died from a heart attack, but video footage taken by a US tourist later emerged showing him being hit.

After his acquittal, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ruled that Harwood should face the Metropolitan Police disciplinary panel in a public hearing. It is the first time the force has made such a hearing public.

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