A British police apology and thousands of pounds in compensation this week to the family of Ian Tomlinson three years after an officer unlawfully killed him with a baton brought back memories of another man's death in similar circumstances. Harry Stanley was shot dead by police 14 years ago in east London. He was a Scottish man carrying a broken table leg - who was shot in the back of the head by armed officers who claimed to have mistook him for an Irish terrorist with a sawn-off shotgun.
Stanley’s decision to help his brother repair a broken table on September 22 1999 began a chain of events ending with his death. Walking home with the leg wrapped in a plastic bag, he stopped off to order a lemonade at The Alexandra pub in Victoria Park Road, which is now known as The Lauriston.
Someone phoned 999 to report "an Irishman" carrying a gun wrapped in a bag, and just 100 yards from Stanley’s home in Warneford Street the 46-year old father-of-three was gunned down by police.
This is the award-winning film about the tragedy by Jeremiah Quinn. It won a trophy for best short film at the Milan Film Festival.
Marksmen claimed Stanley had turned around and pointed what they thought was a gun at them - but the shot wounds were in the back of his head. A jury’s verdict of unlawful killing in 2004 was quashed the following year by a High Court judge on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
In October 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges of murder against the two officers involved. Filmmaker Quinn said: “There are so many things particularly tragic about this. He had a newborn grandson, he was just recovering from a huge operation for colon cancer. He asked his brother to play pool with him and his brother’s last words were, “I cannae be bothered.”
“The film is about his day and him celebrating life, he believed he had a future, and the police turned up and killed him.”
He added: “It is important people in Hackney and London start talking about his tragic case again - it’s something that moves people a lot, and putting it online means it can get to anyone who cares. Jean Charles de Menezes is a household name, if you say Harry Stanley people don’t have that recollection, but in some ways he’s a lot unluckier than Menezes.”
Terry Stewart, who led the campaign group Justice for Harry Stanley with members of INQUEST, which works with families of victims for coroners’ courts reform, said: “We never believed the family got real justice. There were two inquests and three different hearings in high courts and a decision taken by a coroner’s jury was overtaken by a high court judge - you can get justice and the good old legal system will overturn it."
The-Latest was the first news media organisation to expose police brutality at the G20 London protest on April 1 2009, where Ian Tomlinson was killed.