London police to discipline officer over G20 protest death

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British police said Tuesday they were bringing misconduct proceedings against an officer who struck a man and pushed him to the ground just minutes before he died at last year's G20 protests in London.

State prosecutors said last week they did not have enough evidence to bring criminal charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson, sparking outrage from his family who demanded someone be held responsible.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson told lawmakers on Tuesday, however, that his force would be taking action.

"I can confirm that the officer has been notified that a decision has been made to bring disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct," he told a parliamentary home affairs committee.

Stephenson said he had been "disturbed" by an amateur video showing Tomlison being hit with a baton and pushed over as he walked through demonstrations in the City of London financial district on April 1 last year.

Thousands of anti-capitalist protesters had gathered there ahead of the Group of 20 summit in London, attended by leaders including US President Barack Obama, but it turned violent and riot police were sent in.

Tomlinson, a newspaper seller who had alcohol problems, collapsed and died minutes after being hit by the riot squad officer, Simon Harwood.

Harwood could now lose his job over the incident.

"The outcome can range from anything from being exonerated completely to, theoretically, being sacked," a police spokesman told AFP.

Stephenson said it would not be right for him to comment on prosecutors' decision last week not to bring charges against Harwood.

But the police chief said: "I do understand the level of outrage that this did not lead to a criminal prosecution, I can sense it and I can feel it."

© 2010 AFP

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