Video footage from a citizen who filmed a policeman attack innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in London in 2009 has resulted in an inquest jury deciding that the officer unlawfully killed him.
Now Police Constable Simon Harwood, 43, of the notoriously thuggish Territorial Support Group (TSG), could be prosecuted for manslaughter. The TSG are the Metropolitan Police's instant response riot officers.
Harwood had previously been investigated twice over his reported aggressive behaviour.
Returning their verdict after three hours of deliberation, jurors said Tomlinson died of internal bleeding in the abdomen after being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by the officer.
They stated that "excessive and unreasonable" force was used by Harwood when he struck the newspaper seller who "posed no threat".
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, immediately said he would "review" his decision last July not to prosecute Harwood because of conflicting post mortem results.
Following the first autopsy by the discredited police pathologist Dr Freddy Patel, pictured left, it was claimed that Tomlinson had died of "natural causes" after suffering a heart attack.
There were shouts of "yes" from Tomlinson's family at the inquest when the jury confirmed their belief that the 47-year-old father of nine was unlawfully killed.
The family's lawyer, Jules Carey, said : "Today's decision is a huge relief to Mr Tomlinson's family. To many, today's verdict will seem like a statement of the blindingly obvious. However, this fails to take account of the significant and many obstacles faced by the family over the last two years to get to this decision."
Police initially denied Tomlinson had contact with police officers before his death on April 1 2009 - something contradicted by The-Latest which was the first news media organisation to challenge the official version of policing at the G20 protest.
Based on reports from our own contributors at the protest, we said police had brutally attacked demonstrators and kettled members of the public, including the deputy editor of The-Latest, Deborah Hobson.
Commenting on the rare verdict from the jury, Duncan Campbell, the veteran former Guardian crime reporter, observed: "What has changed, of course, is the access that the public now have through the internet to police activities."
He added: "It was footage shot on a mobile phone by a member of the public and released to the Guardian that prompted this whole investigation and led to the jury's verdict. Once it did not matter how many demonstrators had witnessed an unprovoked attack – their evidence could routinely be denied by a police officer in the witness box, and he or she tended to be given the benefit of the doubt by a jury."
Ex-Attorney General Baroness Scotland told The-Latest in 2009 that citizen journalism was "the new democracy. People with camera phones can hold the authorities to account in a way they never could before".
Dressed in a bright yellow reflective jacket, black uniform and helmet, Harwood’s identity number was covered up and he had a scarf across the lower part of his face - both breaches of Met Police rules - at the G20 protest.
A Crown Prosecution Service’s report said that at 7.15pm on April 1, a police dog handler put out his hand to move Tomlinson away and a police dog bit him on his leg. Tomlinson did not react to the bite and it was then that Harwood moved in and shoved him to the ground.
Harwood was questioned on suspicion of manslaughter two weeks after Tomlinson’s death, and has been suspended on full pay ever since, spending his time at home at Carshalton, Surrey, where he lives with his wife Helen, a GP surgery manager, and their two young sons.
A second pathologist who examined Tomlinson, Nat Cary, has challenged the CPS decision to drop criminal charges saying Tomlinson suffered injuries that would support an acutal bodily harm (ABH) charge. Mr Cary said the injuries were "not relatively minor" and that they were "consistent with a baton strike".
The Independent Police Complaints Commission only launched a criminal inquiry a week following the G20 protest incident, after the Guardian released video footage showing Tomlinson being struck from behind by Harwood near the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London.
The footage was played repeatedly during the five-week hearing at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street, London.
Jurors were given two sharply different explanations of Tomlinson's death. The first pathologist to conduct a postmortem examination on Tomlinson, Dr Freddy Patel, said he died of a heart attack as a result of coronary heart disease. He was contradicted by three other pathologists who examined the body, all of whom found he died of internal bleeding.
Starmer said last July that complications with the medical evidence led him to believe prosecutors would be unlikely to prove a cause of death.
His decision, which was backed by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve MP, prompted widespread anger and questions in parliament.
Jurors at the inquest were told they could only decide Tomlinson was unlawfully killed if they were convinced beyond reasonable doubt, the same burden of proof which would apply in a criminal trial.
Harwood told the inquest: “I saw a male in dark clothing bending down facing the offside of the police carrier (van)…I could see by the actions of his arm that he was writing something on the body work of the vehicle."
He added: “I felt it was done right in front of me, so close to my position, I believed it was my duty to go and take some course of action towards this male.”
Other protestors saw him with the man and moved closer to the officer to get a better view.
There was a “large gasp” from the crowd as the suspect he was holding hit the door of a police van. Footage showed Harwood leading the man further away from the vans with the crowd surging behind him.
Harwood claimed: “At the time, because he (Tomlinson) was becoming more aggressive, more hostile, I was starting to believe that this was getting out of control. I was aware there was a very hostile crowd and I was actually in fear for my life then from what was coming towards me.”
But witnesses said Harwood's claims were false. Tomlinson had his hands in his pocket and was walking away from police when he was subjected to an unprovoked attack.
The Express newspaper wrote that the inquest had seen video footage of Harwood striking Tomlinson with a baton before pushing him. Tomlinson was seen turning away from a line of officers with his hands in his pockets before he was shoved in the back.
And what of the aggressive attitude of police at the demo? Harwood admitted: “There was a general feeling that it would be robust policing, not just going and picking on people, but robust as in keeping the demonstration where it should be.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest the charity that backed the Tomlinson family in their quest for justice, said the verdict in the case was “damning” but the Crown Prosecution Service had not acted on any of the 11 unlawful killing verdicts against police officers since 1990. There was a perception that they were above the law.