Police watch

Dragging the dead through the criminal courts

In addition to the usual attempts to smear victims of police murder in the press, both Anthony Grainger and Mark Duggan have effectively been put on criminal trial by means of court cases against other people involved in the incidents which led up to their executions. In September 2012, three men who were with Anthony Grainger when he was gunned down by Greater Manchester Police in March, were acquitted of conspiracy to rob (see FRFI 229). Then, in October, the jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who was charged with supplying a gun to Mark Duggan on 4 August 2011, the day he was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police. Kevin will now be retried in early January and the inquest into Mark’s death will then begin on 28 January.

Inquiry into racist execution

Meanwhile, the oral hearing phase of the public inquiry into the cold-blooded police killing of Azelle Rodney in north London in 2005 ended in November 2012; final closing submissions in the case are due to take place in mid-December, with the report of the inquiry to be published in 2013. Azelle’s death has long been the subject of a police cover-up, and his mother and lawyers have fought, and continue to fight, a long battle to get the facts of the case brought into the public domain.

It has now been revealed that the police marksman (known only as E7) who shot Azelle dead, had previously shot four other people, while on duty – two of them fatally. The police barrister also told the inquiry that one reason officers did not stop the vehicle in which Azelle was a passenger, and in which they wrongly suspected automatic weapons were being transported, at the start of its journey, was because they wanted to remain undercover and – being white – thought they would stand out in the ‘predominantly black’ area of Harlesden. As a result, they allowed the car to proceed to Edgware, where three police vehicles rammed it and E7 shot Azelle six times at point-blank range.

Tasers, pepper spray and live ammunition

On 12 October, Colin Farmer, a blind man, who had previously suffered two strokes, was tasered by Lancashire Police, as he walked through the town centre of Chorley to meet his friends in a local pub. The police officer (whose own eyesight presumably needs testing) bizarrely claimed he mistook Colin’s white stick for a Samurai sword. The police apologised but have not even suspended the officer.

On 1 November, the family of Leonard McCourt, who died in a cage in the back of a police van, having been pepper-sprayed outside his home in County Durham, told the press of their anger that the police officers responsible would only face misconduct hearings, and not criminal charges. The McCourt family were unable to get legal aid and his sister-in-law represented the family at the inquest into Leonard’s death, cross-examining police witnesses and insisting that the jury examine the inside of the van and see the cramped conditions for themselves.

On 2 November, George Asare, who was both shot and tasered by police in south London on 19 February (see FRFI 226), was acquitted of criminal charges of affray, criminal damage, attempted GBH and other charges, on the grounds that he was mentally ill at the time of his encounter with the police. Having been hospitalised with multiple wounds, as a result of the violent assault on him, George was arrested and charged whilst still in intensive care.

The IPCC covers up for police murder

On 19 November a BBC Panorama programme ‘Watching the Detectives’ exposed to a wider audience the unfortunate truth known to everyone who has lost a friend or relative to police brutality, that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) does not subject the murderous actions of the police to anything like proper scrutiny. At best, it is lax and inefficient; at worst, its staff are corrupt and deliberately cover up for police crimes. The IPCC was set up in 2004, replacing the previously discredited Police Complaints Authority. As of 2010, nine out of ten of the IPCC’s senior investigators were former police employees, as were 18 out of 31 deputy senior investigators and 30 out of 92 investigators.

Nicki Jameson

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

 

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