Friday, April 09, 2010

guess what verdict the cop got

The day after Ian Tomlinson died at the G20 demonstrations, a vigil was held for him. That, too, was the scene of police assaulting protesters.

One piece of footage seemed so stark and unambiguous that it went viral; the peaceful protest that suddenly changed due to cops throwing their weight around, with the big cop smacking the woman in the face and then batoning her to the ground.



The cop, Sergeant Delroy Smellie, had his case come to court last week. No prizes for guessing the verdict.

Sergeant Smellie cast himself as the vulnerable party.

Not one photograph or piece of footage comes close to reflecting the fear as I turned around to see this crowd

Perhaps that's because the footage clearly depicts the event and shows nothing for anyone to be scared of, let alone someone who is armed and armoured, and who additionally has special privileges to use violence.

What the footage does show is a prolonged, boring scene of people standing around and a dense stationary line of police. One of them has a member of the public talking, and when they don't go away they are shoved by several officers. This causes the crowd to remonstrate, at which point Smellie hits Nicola Fisher in the face then, as she stands in front of him, he calmly takes out his baton and hits her twice on the legs, making her fall to the ground.

He said her carton of orange juice and camera looked like weapons. At close range in broad daylight.

Still, he says he was in control and thought

Does it really need a broken jaw, which could easily have happened if I struck her with my left elbow in her face. I thought that the most reasonable level of force would be a flick with the hand as a distraction clearance.

So, because the level of violence wasn't as great as it could have been, it's therefore reasonable.

At the time I thought, this is it: she is deliberately coming from a blind spot. The reason she is coming from a blind spot is to hide her intention so she can approach and attack her target – me.

She moves slightly, slowly, then after she is hit she stands still in front of him, remonstrating. Not a lot that you could call 'coming at' him, let alone from a blind spot. Armed, as she was, with orange juice.

It can't have helped that Nicola Fisher sold her arse to Max Clifford last year and was splattered all over the red-tops, yet - fearing character assassination - refused to testify against Smellie.

But you have to ponder what would have happened if the roles were reversed, if footage existed of two members of the public acting like that, or a civilian assaulting a copper.

Sergeant Smellie, incidentally, is one of the countless cops who had removed their identifying numbers at the G20 protests. The Met's chief promised officers who did that in order to get away with inappropriate behaviour would be sacked. More than a year later, even though we know who many of them were, not one has even been disciplined.

7 comments:

Martin Porter said...

Yeah, but it's hard to see what else the court could do if the alleged victim fails to show up in court.

What sort of "anarchist" is she anyway if she tells her story to a newspaper for £50,000 but won't tell it to a court?

merrick said...

Martin,

I agree with your points, but we need to hold on to the fact that she wasn't on trail for being a bad anarchist, nor is it essential to have a victim testify to secure a conviction for a crime.

The footage itself is pretty unambiguous, and were the roes reversed the court would have convicted her even if Smellie hadn't given evidence.

Martin Porter said...

Truish, but don't forget that Smellie gave his own verbal evidence which (obviously) gave a contrary view and they did manage to dig up some "protestors" who backed him up.

This all should have been easy to shoot down...but you do have to turn up!

merrick said...

I think we're in agreement here, Martin.

Had she given evidence then yes, they may well have gone to town on her banking it from the press and dug up all manner of dirt on her past and whatnot, but the footage is so clear that it's easy to think it would have tipped the case.

Mind you, in a world where the cops who stood round Christopher Alder making monkey noises as he died got off, and the ones who beat Rodney King too until the riots forced a retrial, don't underestimate the establishment's ability to absolve its exective arm.

timbird said...

Hi Merrick,

Didn't know how else to contact you, so here goes. I'm involved in the New Left Project (newleftproject.org), who would like to syndicate your blog, with your permission. Please have a look at the site, and tell us whether you'd be happy for us to do that.

Thanks a lot,

Tim H

merrick said...

Tim,

Excellent work at your place. I'm flattered you'd want to syndicate my blog, yes, certainly go ahead and do it.

Anything I ever publish is under a WTFPL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL

James Blundell said...

I still remeber an ex cop (now teacher) telling me how as a Yorkshire copper he was bussed down to deal with London protests and saw extreme violence from the London police who were handing out cards with "Youve met the Met" on them when they thumped people and thought it was hilarious. Nothing changes.
That policeman left the force shortly after in disgust and went on to teacher training.
Hi Martin by the way - funny how 3 ex Southport people all end up gabbling about stuff on a blog! Not seen you since that day at Harrogate swimming pool!