Menezes shooters not to be prosecuted. Discuss.

The London police officers who shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes a year ago will not be facing any charges.

Personally, I can’t understand how shooting a man eight times, mostly likely within a span of over thirty seconds, is not solid evidence of misconduct. I’m interested in getting other peoples’ thoughts on this.

The question is whether they were negligent or grossly negligent in the performance of their duties. If they had a reasonable belief that Jean Charles de Menezes was carrying a bomb, and that shooting him in the head was the best way to protect the public, I don’t think they acted improperly, even if Jean Charles de Menezes was not carrying a bomb.

The difficulty as I see it is twofold;

  • Several things were claimed about de Menezes (he was wearing a large thick coat, he ran when ordered to stop by police, he jumped over a turnstyle to escape) which were later found to be false. Where did these initial details come from?

  • With the facts we have at this point, it’s unclear to see why de Menezes was such an obvious target. He doesn’t appear to have acted in a suspicious manner. It may well be that there was some evidence that we don’t know about, that has been witheld due to secrecy; but if so, then that evidence was also flawed, since he was not a bomber. Somewhere along the line, whether it was in intelligence gathering/sorting, conversations between intelligence gatherers and police leaders, or the actual shooting officers themselves, was a considerably fuck-up.

It’s been suggested that to bring all of this out into the open would be harming our intelligence services in their work against terrorist threats; I would argue that by allowing such fuck-ups to go uncovered and unpunished that damage is being done already.

Here’s a link to a story about the verdict.

There are plenty of other questions. I’m worried about why they understood their duties involved shooting this guy - why was he a suspect in the first place? How this can be prevented from happening again? These cases drive me crazy because the end of the investigation always seems to involve people throwing their hands up and saying “it was an honest mistake, nobody’s fault.” I really am not willing to accept that police work occasionally involves honest people being shot to death for nothing. If the Guardian article has summed it up correctly, his suspicious activity was apparently being in possession of a tan on a subway train.

The problem is with the entire policy that was employed, and it was highly likely, read absolutely certain, that this outcome would occur.

First, the presumption was that any suspected terrorist would certainly be a suicide bomber, and would likely have the means to detonate the device at any time.
This presumption was the most fatal, since it ensured that the victim had to be killed instead of arrested.

The truth is that the July bombers actually had to prepare their devices just prior to detonation, as evidenced by witness survivors who saw at least one of them rummaging around in the bag that contained his device, this alone made instant detonation very unlikely.

The number of false positive identifications is always going to far exceed the number of confirmed terrorists. There have been literally hundreds of individuals who concerned the authorities so much that instead of observation, they have been taken in for questioning by police, and yet ony half a dozen face charges of any sort.

One pre-enquiry story put out by the intelligence services and police (which should not have been made and was simply a rubbish attempt at a cover up) was that there were far more suspects than resources to investigate. This should set alarm bells ringing, because it confirms the number of false positives.

Given that on any day in London, there are large numbers of foreigners, for whom English is a second or third language, whose culture and personal experience in their own countries is such that you don’t just stay still when confronted by unknown persons who are armed, and especially in this case - a Brazilian for whom personal abduction is a real possibility back home.

The potential for misunderstanding between police and subject is huge.

Why would anyone not inderdict well before the suspect got anywhere near a tube station ? sheer idiocy, if your concerns are so great, you take him down well before then, he should have been arrested the moment he left his abode, you certainly do not let an active terrorist operative to move into a position where you do not control the scene.

I also recall a series of botched operations by armed police in London where individuals have been misidentified and shot, or somehow a weapon has been discharged, it does not inspire confidence, and those were just arrest warrants, here the police would have been even more jumpy given the alleged immediacy of potential detonation.

The victim was not carrying a bag, nor was he wearing baggy clothing etc, but the police claimed this until strongly contradicted by witnesses, thus there was actually little reason to suspect that the victim was carrying a bomb.

Add in the fuck up factor, which appears to be police radios not working underground, the firearms unit arriving on scene very late in the operation and hence not having much of a chance to be thoroughly briefed, and having to take action almost immediately, and that the action to be taken is not arrest, but clearly was to secure instant immobilisation.

I genuinely think there is scope for prosecution of those who planned the policy and those who oversaw it, this is gross negligence, anyone with half a brain could see what the inevitable outcome would be, in fact its far more than gross negligence, it is egrerious recklessness.

Thanks for the post, casdave. That’s just the kind of thing I was talking about. If the police weren’t negligent, something is probably wrong with the policy- and it sounds like that was the case.

Did someone lose their job over this? If criminal misconduct can’t be penned on these people, surely incompetence can.

One consideration is this:

The police in the UK are not routinely armed. IIRC all officers who carry arms are volunteers (not sure whether the officers in this case were police or MI5?).

The police unions have stated repeatedly that if any officers are prosecuted for shooting an innocent person - whether through faulty intelligence, or mistaking a chair leg for a gun (as has happened in the past) - all armed officers will lay down their arms and the UK will be left without an armed response.

The govt here are reluctant to require all police to be armed, so therefore rely on the good-will of police officers to volunteer. Those officers are not prepared to do this work if they risk being prosecuted over a decision made in a life/death split second.

This is partly why there will be no prosecution in the De Menezes case… it would mean other officers would hesitate before pulling the trigger, for fear that they may be mistaken, and that delay could prove disasterous.

I think that it was reasonable to expect someone to be killed, and that person not to be a terrorist.

I think it is reasonable to assert that this policy had only one likely outcome, and that the desired outcome was extremely unlikely.

Those who formulated this policy were not just incompetant, because after all, they are anti-terrorism specialists - you do not put incompetants into such a role, they were negligent.

It is more than negligent, it was at the high end of recklessness.

They failed to take into account the likely risks, in fact it appears that these risks were not even considered.

When you are working on terrrorism cases, the most important thing may not, contrary to what may seem the most obvious, it may not be about stopping the particular incident, it may well be apprehending those resposible, and gaining intelligence to break up networks and prevent more serious incidents.

With a shoot to kill policy this was never a possible outcome.

The maximum sanctions are unlimited fines and manslaughter charges, think along the the sentence handed down to the cockle picker gangmasters and the highest jail term handed out there, which was 14 years. That case was aggravated by facilitating illegal entry and attempts to pervert the course of justice, but all the same, some folk seem to think that prosecution under Health and Safety law is toothless compared to the usual criminal law, and they are so wrong.

The reason they are wrong is that the prison terms handed out under Health and Safety law can be very long, because it is in fact a breach of criminal law.

People do get mislead because when you make claims for compensation in relation to Health and Safety matters, this is done through civil law, but in fact - this civil law claim can often be the second part of a prosecution, where criminality is first established, and then the level of damages is determined by the civil court.

Proving a breach of Health and Safety Law is far easier, and much more difficult to defend, the prosecution will state that certain things should have been done, and if they were not done then the accused is in breach of the law, in effect, the defendant in a Health and Safety trial has to prove that there was some outstanding reason why they did not carry out a particular course of action, in other words, the defendant has to prove they are innocent, rather than the prosecution proving they are guilty.

Here we have a failure of Risk Assessment, inadequate supervision, inadequate assignment of resources, inadequate planning and an almost invevitable outcome of death for an innocent person.

We have already seen the police attempting a pathetic cover up prior to the enquiry findings, by lying about what the victim was wearing, and lying about him running and lying about resisting arrest, and lying about reaching into a pocket, I fully expect our police to cover up, because they have done this in the past, with other shooting victims.

No one person will be held to account, because it will not be possible to pin one person down as making a decision, but its obvious one person did authorise that particualr force, because doing it by committee is just frigging ludicrous.

All that will happen is that systems failures wil be identified and a large compensation payout in th ehope of buying silence.

This makes it sound like the UK is being held hostage by its police.

Don’t we already have a disaster here?

Yes, Minister.

Hardly. The police are not routinely armed - that is a policy decision by the govt.

If it were a requirement of joining the force that you were armed, then refusal to act would be actionable… but if we continue to rely on volunteers we are dependent on their good will.

Not really, one innocent life is a tragedy but it won’t stop the world from turning I’m afraid.

Mistaken shootings happen every couple of years or so, and there’s a big hoo-ha before it is forgotten.

The officers who shot him were doing their job (yes, I realise how lame this sounds, with shades of ‘just following orders’ and all) - to wit neutralising a target identified as a suicide bomber; the fault lies not with the people who pulled the triggers, but with the intelligence gathering people/processes that incorrectly identified the man as a target; once that went wrong, it was almost inevitable he would be shot and killed.

From today’s Times:

A summons will be served on Scotland Yard lawyers today for breaches of health and safety legislation over the death of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell last year…The penalty for a conviction under the health and safety laws would be an unlimited fine and the case could be a huge embarrassment for Sir Ian (Blair) and his officers.

Surely an (unlimited) fine isn’t going to affect the Metropolitan Police one iota. The only people disadvantaged by a fine will be Londoners, who will have police services cut in order to balance the books.

Well, London seems to more or less be doing well without much of an armed presence, so there would be absolutely no reason to require officers to be armed.

I suppose I’ve always operated under the belief that we want police to hesitate before shooting in the vast majority of situations. If someone is charging at them with an Uzi, then don’t hesitate and open fire. But if it’s a case of “Shit, think he might be armed/have a bomb/etc”, then I think most civilized people would find hesitation preferable. Hesitating still leaves open the opportunity to correct a mistake and shoot in most cases, whereas shooting first and then asking questions isn’t exactly something you can undo.

I guess the argument is that if a suicide bomber is challenged, he/she has nothing to lose by setting the bomb off instantly.

You may be able to reason with an armed robber - which is what the police tend to face in the UK - and a second’s hesitation still leaves a gunman needing to raise, aim and fire a weapon.

But a single-button suicide bomber just needs one finger free to detonate, and only an instant to do so.

The Met took their policy from the Israelis (I believe) where they are more used to suicide bombers, and tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

You still cannot get past the fact that the number of false positive terrorist identifications far exceeds the number of genuine terrorist identifications.

Add that to a shoot to kill policy and an innocent person is certain to die.

I just can’t believe they even allowed the guy out of his house, this is a supposed terrorist, why the hell was he not brought in for questioning well before he left home ?

I also find it strangely convenient that the sole police officer who was watching his front door just happened to go for a piss at exactly the time that Menezes left home.

Its just so much rubbish, and given all the other lies that the police have attempted to foist upon us, I really do not believe it at all.

He was probably at dunkin donuts filling his face, but we will never know as there are conveniently no corroberative witnessess, strange how there was only one person in the observation team eh ?

I’m curious about this. Does anyone have any hard info on what kind of equipment terrorists are likely to be carrying? Is it ever a reasonable assumption that a suspect could have the capability to instantly detonate his device upon a police challenge?

I know. What I’m saying is that the police unions appear to be saying “we will refuse to carry arms if you create any mechanisms for holding us accountable for how we use them.” That’s a problem.

We seem to be dealing with the worst possible outcome of the policy, however, and it’s an outcome that seems to have no consequences.

And clearly, the Israelis are always the ones we want to be emulating.