'Shocking' blunders alleged over London police shooting17/08/2005 - 07:35:44
The shooting dead of an innocent Brazilian by anti-terror police in London was branded “shocking and terrifying” after new details of alleged police blunders emerged.
Jean Charles de Menezes was gunned down at Stockwell Tube station in the mistaken belief that he was linked to the failed July 21 bomb attempts.
Initial accounts suggested that he had fled from armed officers by vaulting over barriers before stumbling onto an Underground train, where the officers opened fire.
But according to documents obtained by ITV News, the Brazilian entered the station at a normal walking pace and even picked up a free copy of the Metro newspaper.
The family of Mr de Menezes has called for a public inquiry into the death of the electrician.
His cousin Allessandro Pereira said: “My family deserve the full truth about his murder. The truth cannot be hidden any longer. It has to be made public.”
The leaked report also indicated that Mr de Menezes was wearing a light denim jacket and not the heavily padded coat initially claimed.
One police officer in the report was quoted as saying he was able to grab Mr de Menezes and pin his arms to his side before the shooting started.
Another told how earlier during the surveillance operation that led to the shooting he had been unable to record video footage of Mr de Menezes because he had been “relieving himself”.
The report also said a post mortem examination showed that Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, but three other bullets missed.
Harriet Wistrich, lawyer for the de Menezes family, told Channel Four News that they were distressed at the new revelations.
She added: “I think it is absolutely shocking and terrifying. There’s obviously some level of incompetence here or some serious breakdown in communications with the various officers involved in surveillance.”
The new account was said to have been obtained from the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the killing of the 27-year-old.
The IPCC refused to confirm or deny the truth of the information, while Scotland Yard and the Home Office said it would be inappropriate to comment.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke pledged that when the IPCC report was published it would be “carefully considered and acted upon”.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said the emerging details were “more and more troubling” and highlighted the need for a “truly independent” investigation.
The Justice4Jean Family campaign also urged a public inquiry.
Campaign spokesperson Asad Rehman said: “The people of London have been told lies and half truths about how Jean died.
“It is clear from the evidence from the IPPC that Jean was killed in cold blood. His death resembles an extra-judicial execution. The evidence clearly shows he was being restrained before being shot dead.
“The Home Secretary must now use his powers to order a full Judicial Inquiry into the killing. This is the minimum required if we are to have any faith in those responsible for our security and safety.”
On July 22, police had been monitoring a flat in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill, south London, which they believed was linked to the previous day’s bomb attempts.
Mr de Menezes left the property before taking a bus to Stockwell tube station.
During the course of his journey, officers came to the conclusion that he matched the description of one of two terror suspects, including Hussain Osman, the alleged Shepherd’s Bush attempted bomber, according to the leaked documents.
One surveillance officer at the Tulse Hill address said he “checked the photographs” and thought “it would be worth someone else having a look”.
He is quoted saying that he was unable to transmit his observations and turn on his video camera at the same time.
“I was in the process of relieving myself,” he said.
CCTV footage showed that after Mr de Menezes entered Stockwell station he slowly descended the escalators before running for a train and sitting down.
“Almost simultaneously armed officers … were provided with positive identification,” the report says.
The Brazilian was seen to board the Underground train through the middle doors before pausing, looking left and right, then sitting down in either the second or third seat facing the platform.
A man sitting opposite saw a man boarding and firing his first shot from a handgun at the head of Mr de Menezes from 12 inches away.
A member of the surveillance team said in the report that he heard shouting including the word police before turning to face Mr de Menezes.
“He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 officers … I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side.
“I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting … I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away onto the floor of the carriage.”
Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair initially said the shooting was “directly linked” to anti-terror operations but detectives later established he was not connected to attempts to blow up three Underground trains and a bus in the capital the previous day.
Former Flying Squad commander John O’Connor said the leaked report would have caused “great embarrassment” to Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.
He told BBC Breakfast News: “There will be pressure on the Met Commissioner to consider his position. Whoever has leaked this report has caused him a great deal of embarrassment. You have to ask how on earth a report of this sensitivity has got out.
He added it was “very difficult” to blame police officers for the death of Mr de Menezes.
Mr O’Connor said: “It’s very difficult to put the blame on individuals as it appears they were acting on information that it was a positive ID of one of the suspected bombers.
“But had the normal procedures taken place in which a warning is given and officers wear specially marked clothing then this young man may not have been killed.”
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