The unpleasant case of the killing of Ian Tomlinson by a Metropolitan Police officer has managed, somehow, to get even weirder and more disturbing. Here is the full sequence of events, as revealed by the Guardian.
1) An off-duty police officer in the Metropolitan police, while on sick-leave due to a shoulder injury, is involved with a road-rage incident with a member of the public, who accuses him of using unnecessary force (he apparently decided to try and arrest the bloke).
2) He manages to avoid the resulting disciplinary board by simply resigning, on some kind of “medical” grounds, and is awarded a medical pension. (No quotes around the second incident of “medical” in that pension, because while the grounds were clearly bullshit, the pension would have been a real one, funded by our tax money). I believe this is a common dodge used by the police to avoid the bother of having to actually discipline policemen who’ve misbehaved. And of course, there was no suggestion that he might face criminal prosecution for his behaviour, as you or I would if we attacked someone during a road-rage incident. (It’s true that we don’t know who was at fault in this road-rage incident, but I think the fact that the policeman concerned resigned, ending his career, rather than face a displinary panel, does rather suggest that the case against him had considerable merit).
3) He then gets a civilian job with Surrey police, neither his “medical difficulties” nor his history of violence apparently being an obstacle.
4) He then transfers to a job as a full policeman with Surrey Police, despite apparently being medically unfit to ever work as a policeman again. I’m not sure if he’s still drawing his pension at this point.
5) He then transfers to the Metropolitan Police, who’ve apparently forgotten that they earlier allowed him to avoid being sacked for violent misconduct by agreeing to pretend that he was unable work as a policeman.
6) He then transfers to the elite TSG unit – so there really can’t be that much wrong with him, can there?
I just don’t believe this. I’m already spluttering with righteous fury and I haven’t even yet got to the bit where he killed a man in broad daylight.
So the basic summary of the situation is:
On 1 April 2009, a man with a history of violence brutally and cowardly attacked a man in the street – who then died shortly after. It was witnessed by hundreds of people, many of them policeman. It was filmed by at least two sources. More than three months later he has yet to be charged with anything whatsoever.
I fail to see why the fact he was wearing a uniform appears to make so much difference. I’m pretty sure that if a postman killed someone while making his round, we wouldn’t be sitting around three months later wondering if anyone was ever going to be charged for the offense, and waiting while the Royal Mail conducted an internal inquiry.
You know the sad thing about this? Mad, paranoid, and largely groundless as I know this is, these and the other recent assaults have changed the way I personally view the police. When I saw a policeman in the street I used to feel safe. My uncle was a policeman. But now that I know they’ve got blokes like this psycho in their ranks, I treat them the way I treat scary looking blokes in a pub; I find myself avoiding making eye contact with them in case they decide I’m giving them some kind of challenge and need to be taught a lesson.
And I’m a fairly well-off, middle-class, forty year-old white bloke. How the hell would I feel if I fitted a category you expect them to be harassing?