More than a quarter century ago, 96 Liverpool soccer fans were crushed and trampled to death at an English soccer match, a tragedy that convulsed Britain and shocked the world, even as police and safety officials blamed victims for causing their own deaths.
On Tuesday, a jury found that the fans who died during the match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, had been “unlawfully killed” and the victims of what proved to be fatal police mistakes, a verdict that represented a long-sought victory for family members who had fought for a full accounting.
The jury answered yes to the crucial questions of whether there were errors or omissions by the police in planning and executing security for the match on April 15, 1989, and it specifically cited the actions of commanding officers.
The victims suffocated as they entered an F.A. Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest after the police opened an exit gate in an effort to relieve congestion outside the stadium before the game. In the chaos that ensued, some victims were crushed against steel fencing. Others were trampled, and more than 700 people were injured. The victims were ages 10 to 67 and included 37 teenagers.
The jury was given 14 yes-or-no questions in deciding how the 96 people died, and it said no to only one: whether the fans were responsible for the deaths.