British-jury-blames-police-for-1989-soccer-stadium-deaths. LONDON, Twenty-seven years after 96 Liverpool soccer fans were crushed and trampled to death, a jury found Tuesday that the fans were “unlawfully killed” and the victims of police mistakes.
The jury affirmed that there was “error or omission in police planning and preparation” for the English soccer semifinal match on April 15, 1989, that “caused or contributed to the dangerous situation” in which the fans died.
The jury also determined that the fans were not responsible for the deaths.
The families for decades had sought to prove that police conduct contributed to their deaths.
After the verdict, family members clasped hands outside the coroner’s court in Warrington, east of Liverpool, and sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the song that Liverpool fans sing at every game.
Senior police officials initially blamed the victims, but an independent inquiry called it the “most serious tragedy in U.K. sporting history.”
After the tragedy, standing-only sections were replaced by all-seating areas at most stadiums in Britain and fences around the field were removed.
Fans were killed when police opened an exit in an attempt to relieve the congestion outside the stadium before the game started. More than 700 people were injured.
The inquest determined that Cmdr. Supt. David Duckenfield was “responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence” due to a breach of his duty of care.
The inquest jury, which convened in April 2014, found the direct medical cause of death was compression asphyxia in all but three victims.
Because it was not a criminal trial, it does not confer civil damages or penalties. The Crown Prosecution Service could consider a separate criminal case.
By Allen Cone