LONDON – London police apologized Monday to the family of a British newspaper vendor who died after an officer hit him with a baton during demonstrations against a Group of 20 meeting in 2009. The force said it had reached an out-of-court settlement with the family.
Officer Simon Harwood hit 47-year-old Ian Tomlinson and shoved him to the ground as Tomlinson tried to leave a cordon put up to contain protesters in London's financial district. Tomlinson collapsed and died moments later.
Scotland Yard said Monday a settlement had been reached that acknowledged the suffering Tomlinson's family has "endured with dignity" over the last four years.
"I apologize unreservedly for Simon Harwood's use of excessive and unlawful force, which caused Mr. Tomlinson's death, and for the suffering and distress caused to his family as a result," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner said in a statement.
Harwood was tried and acquitted of manslaughter, but later fired after a police disciplinary panel ruled this actions amounted to gross misconduct. That panel had declined to consider whether Harwood's actions contributed to Tomlinson's death — prompting accusations of a whitewash from Tomlinson's family.
De Brunner added that she took "full responsibility" for Harwood's actions.
Tomlinson's death became a rallying point for those who alleged police had brutalized demonstrators.
Tomlinson's widow, Julia, said Monday that the police apology was "as close as we are going to get to justice."
"It will always be painful for us that Ian died so violently, but at least he is at rest now, and the force has publicly acknowledged the truth," she said.