Most unsurprising headline of the year: ‘Police exonerated over Moat death’.

A Coroner’s Jury had found that the police had done nothing wrong in the run-up to Raul Moat’s suicide after his killing spree last winter, even with regard to the deployment of Tasers that had not been approved by the Home Office and in the use of which they had little or no training. It had been suggested during the inquest that using a Taser on him might have caused Moat to involuntarily fire the weapon he had been holding to his head.

Well, Moat had killed; he was indisputedly armed; he had attempted suicide before; there was little more the police could have done to try to take him alive. So the Jury’s verdict was probably, on the whole, correct, though the malfunctioning of recording equipment in the minutes running up to Moat’s death might have conspiracy theorists muttering into their Red Bull. The problem is that the above headline could have been written before the inquest even began.

Nobody likes a crooked copper, and put a policeman on trial for taking a bribe, or tipping off the News Of The World, or running a scam, or fiddling their expenses, and so long as the evidence is reliable, a Jury will convict. An internal investigation may have concluded that Sir Paul Stevens did nothing wrong in accepting free hospitality from a friend who owned Champneys Health Resort, but if he hadn’t resigned the public would have taken a dim view of his behaviour, whatever his peers thought.

It’s a different matter, though, when police are accused of assault or murder, of prisoners, or suspects, or just innocent members of the public, like Jean Charles de Menezes or Harry Stanley. Then it seems that whatever the evidence, whatever amount of recklessness, negligence or viciousness is involved, the police are given the benefit of the doubt, and Juries seem incapable of guarding us against our guardians. It’s as though there is a collective belief among Juries that if you get yourself killed by the police – whether you’re shot or have your head cracked open in a cell – it’s your own fault; that to find an officer guilty of murder, or even manslaughter, would undermine the whole system of policing and leave us all trembling in our beds at night.

The Menezes affair was one of the most disgraceful examples of psychotic, trigger-happy, gung-ho incompetence there has ever been in this country and the police accounts of what happened were a farrago of lies and disinformation. An innocent man, behaving perfectly normally, was shot 7 times (that is 7 times, yes, 7 times) in the head with dum-dum bullets, despite the fact that it should have been obvious to anyone with rudimentary vision that he couldn’t have been carrying anything more dangerous than a rolled up newspaper. Yet as far as we know the officers responsible are still running around with firearms in their pockets, or still running surveillance operations, or still supposedly protecting us from terrorism. The Inquest Jury even went to the lengths of stating that the senior officer in charge of the operation, Cressida Dick, had done nothing wrong, which is akin to suggesting that there is no financial crisis or that the Japanese tsunami just caused a bit of localised flooding. Cressida Dick still holds a senior position in the Metropolitan Police, and has been been spoken of as a potential Commissioner. So basically none of us are safe.

The Menezes jury might at least have had the pathetic excuse that, after the 7/7 bombings, and with the threat of terrorism ever-present, the police could be forgiven a bit of over-reaction, despite the accompanying incompetence and dishonesty. The Jury that cleared officers of any culpability in the death of Harry Stanley had no such excuse. Stanley had gone to pick up a table leg his brother had repaired for him, which he had been carrying in a plastic bag, and stopped off at a pub for a drink on the way home. Someone, no one knows who, tipped off the police that Stanley was carrying asawn off shotgun. On his way home he was confronted by armed police, who shot him when he appeared to be acting ‘threateningly’. Police said they shouted a warning, witnesses claimed they didn’t. Even if they had, Stanley might have been forgiven for not reacting in the way the police might have wished – he was, after all, carrying a chair leg and had no reason to think a bunch of uniformed psychopaths were after his blood. The police, in turn, had no reason, other than that anonymous tip-off, to think Stanley was armed, or had done, or was about to do anything wrong.

Police officers were charged, but the jury returned not guilty verdicts. Not guilty of anything. Clearly the jurors thought Stanley shouldn’t have been in a pub or on the streets with a table leg in a plastic bag. It’s a warning to us all. If we carry anything even remotely shaped like a weapon of any description, it should be uncovered, raised clearly above our heads, and we should be preceded along the street by a man with a red flag and a loudhailer shouting “Table leg, not a shotgun’ or “Pineapple, not a hand grenade”.

This problem with Juries and psycho cops goes back as far as I can remember  – to the Stephen Waldorf case in 1983. An innocent man, in the wrong car, who looked like a suspect, who was shot five times and whoul have been killed had not an officer's gun not run out of ammunition. After falling out of the car that officer then pistol whipped him around the head. The cops were cleared.

And it’s not only extreme cases of deaths and shooting. The assault on a woman by Sergeant Delroy Smellie at a demo last year, caught on camera, was a disgusting piece of casual police thuggery. Yet Smellie, who claimed he was in fear of being assaulted by a woman two thirds his size and carrying a carton of drink, albeit giving him an earful, was cleared of any offence. What on earth was going through the minds of those jurors? Is society so at risk from mouthy female demonstrators of slight build that beating them with a telescopic truncheon is the only way of preserving order?

Now there may be a better system of administering justice than through the use of Juries, but if there is, I haven’t heard a good argument for one yet, and I’m inclined to oppose any attempt to introduce judge-only trials, even where the technical nature of the evidence might tax the average Jury. But clearly there is a problem when Juries are confronted by officers charged with offences relating to events like those above. There seems to be such a stubborn unwillingness to convict, whatever the evidence of culpability, that one is almost drawn to the conclusion that the choice of Jurors in these trials or inquests is not as random as we are led to believe…

Conspiracy theory? I hate the very idea. Yet that nagging feeling of doubt will only be removed when a Jury finally has the courage to recognise that the police have to live by the same rules as the rest of us, and that their negligence or incompetence should be punished just as surely as any civilian would be if their criminally reckless behaviour caused death or injury to an innocent member of the public.

Of course, the conviction would probably be overturned by judges in the Court of Appeal, but that’s a different matter…
 


Comments

01/09/2017 12:24

Thank you so much.

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01/10/2017 20:13

In country we need strong system for control the crimes and it is important for security of public. This page is giving interesting story about the police and crime. A little mistake make us criminal. so we should always follow right path for living a best human.

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02/09/2017 07:35

It was an unusual situation indeed. Such cases are very rare. I support your opinion.

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04/14/2017 14:08

Hmm, I am quite interested about this theory right now. Do you have more thoughts about this case?

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05/23/2017 18:39

It's silly how things can be turned 360 degrees and makes the one who had sinned as the innocent one. I may not not all the stories regarding Moat's death but all evidences are pointing out to that police. But now he's free from all these accusations, I don't know's what's going to happen next. I'll just hope Moat's death wouldn't turn into nothing.

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I read this article. I think You put a lot of effort to create this article. I appreciate your work.

Reply

Great information, you have a wonderful blog and an excellent article.

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