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Police officer on trial for protest death

June 19, 2012 at 1:23 AM

LONFON, England, June 19 (UPI) -- A police officer who allegedly killed an alcoholic bystander during the G20 riots in London went on trial Monday for manslaughter.

A prosecutor said Ian Tomlinson, 47, was the victim of a "gratuitous act of aggression" by Constable Simon Harwood, The Guardian reported. Tomlinson was trying to make his way through crowds of protesters and police in 2009 and was hit while he had his back to the police lines, Mark Dennis, the prosecuting lawyer, told a jury in Southwark Crown Court.

Harwood was angry because someone who had sprayed graffiti on a police van had wriggled from his grasp, Dennis said.

"This was a rush of blood to the head," Dennis said. "It was more akin to thuggish behavior than proper, reasonable policing."

The investigation into Tomlinson's death was triggered by a videotape made by a U.S. businessman, who gave it to the Guardian. The death had been attributed to a heart attack.

Tomlinson was drunk when he was assaulted but was not getting in the way of police, investigators said. He had been homeless and was living in a hotel in London's East End.

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