G20 death: Tomlinson 'was obstructive' - PC

PC Simon Harwood
Image caption PC Harwood denies Mr Tomlinson's manslaughter and maintains his actions were proportionate

A police officer accused of killing Ian Tomlinson hit him because he believed he was being deliberately obstructive, a court has heard.

PC Simon Harwood, 45, of south London, denies the 2009 manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson, 47, during the G20 protests.

He told a jury at Southwark Crown Court that Mr Tomlinson looked as if he wanted officers to move him away.

He pushed the newspaper vendor "firmly" after the baton strike but did not mean to push him over, he said.

The officer hit Mr Tomlinson with his baton and shoved him to the ground as he walked away from a police line near the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London in April 2009.

The newspaper vendor walked approximately 75 metres further before he collapsed and later died.

Giving evidence as his defence opened, PC Harwood said: "I believed he was doing it on purpose. From what I saw he looked like he wasn't going to move and was looking at the police as though he wanted them to move him away."

'Goading me'

He said he thought the protesters were targeting him after he tried to arrest a man for drawing graffiti on a police carrier, shortly before he encountered Mr Tomlinson.

"They seemed to be goading me and shouting at me, pointing their fingers at me," he said.

"To me it was as if everyone was out for me because of what I had done trying to arrest the graffiti man."

In a speech to open the defence case, Patrick Gibbs QC told jurors PC Harwood was frightened by what was happening.

"It is said that his blood was up, and that's meant to be a criticism. If that means that he was frightened and his heart was pumping and his pulse was racing and he was breathing heavily and he was sweating, then yes his blood was up.

"I defy anyone to have been through that and not have had his pulse racing his heart pumping, to be sweating, to be frightened."

He said that the baton strike was a "bad decision," but this was not what caused Mr Tomlinson's death from internal bleeding, which caused a heart attack.

'Obviously shocked'

Earlier, the court heard PC Harwood was "shocked" when he first saw footage showing him pushing him to the ground.

Insp Timothy Williams said: "He watched it and he said to me that he thought he was the officer concerned.

"He had his head in his hands, he was facing towards the ground and sort of looking up to me. He was obviously shocked."

The court heard senior officers instructed the officers to treat lawful protesters "with kid gloves" but to deal with violent law breakers "with an iron fist".

PC Harwood's official notebook account of events said he felt the situation was spiralling out of control and he had no choice but to draw his baton to protect himself.

"I do not remember how many protesters I struck, but done (sic) so in order to prevent any further rioting and to preserve my safety," he said.

When the video of Mr Tomlinson's death emerged, PC Harwood was interviewed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and warned he could face the charge of manslaughter.

He handed over a prepared statement underlining the violence that he had encountered and said that his actions had been "necessary, proportionate and reasonable".

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