London police apologize for killing innocent man

In 2009, passing through a protest march, Ian Tomlinson was beaten and pushed to the ground by London cop Simon Harwood. He subsequently died of his injuries, but it took four years for the police to apologize to his family. Matthew Taylor, in The Guardian, reports on how London's Metropolitan Police finally admitted culpability after years of extraordinary efforts to avoid it.

The statement from the deputy assistant commissioner Maxine de Brunner – and an undisclosed financial settlement – mark an embarrassing climbdown by the Met and the end of a four-year fight by Tomlinson's family to find out what happened to the 47-year-old who collapsed and died as he made his way home. "I apologise 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," de Brunner said.

Tomlinson's widow, Julia, said the police admission was "as close as the family would get to justice".

Aside from the cruel fact of Tomlinson's killing, the most unsettling thing about it is how the police officer avoided serious punishment. Despite being caught on camera beating him, despite his superiors being caught lying about the circumstances of the killing, despite being found responsible for unlawfully killing him, and despite a string of earlier investigations for misconduct, Simon was acquitted at trial. That a jury decided this seems to evoke a peculiar willingness to trust authority, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of misconduct.