New claims emerge over Menezes death
· Brazilian was held before being shot
· Police failed to identify him
· He made no attempt to run away
Rosie Cowan, Duncan Campbell and Vikram Dodd
Wednesday August 17, 2005
The young Brazilian shot dead by police on a London tube train in mistake for a suicide bomber had already been overpowered by a surveillance officer before he was killed, according to secret documents revealed last night.
It also emerged in the leaked documents that early allegations that he was running away from police at the time of the shooting were untrue and that he appeared unaware that he was being followed.
Relatives and the dead man’s legal team expressed shock and outrage at the revelations. Scotland Yard has continued to justify a shoot-to-kill policy.
Jean Charles de Menezes died after being shot on a tube train at Stockwell station in south London on July 22, the morning after the failed bomb attacks in London.
But the evidence given to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by police officers and eyewitnesses and leaked to ITV News shows that far from leaping a ticket barrier and fleeing from police, as was initially reported, he was filmed on CCTV calmly entering the station and picking up a free newspaper before boarding the train.
It has now emerged that Mr de Menezes:
· was never properly identified because a police officer was relieving himself at the very moment he was leaving his home;
· was unaware he was being followed;
· was not wearing a heavy padded jacket or belt as reports at the time suggested;
· never ran from the police;
· and did not jump the ticket barrier.
But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortable for Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electrician had already been restrained by a surveillance officer before being shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.
The documents reveal that a member of the surveillance team, who sat nearby, grabbed Mr de Menezes before he was shot: “I heard shouting which included the word ‘police’ and turned to face the male in the denim jacket.
“He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] 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 on to the floor of the carriage.”
The leaked documents and pictures showed the failures in the police operation from the time Mr de Menezes left home.
A surveillance officer admitted in a witness statement that he was unable to positively identify Mr de Menezes as a suspect because the officer had been relieving himself when the Brazilian left the block of flats where he lived.
The police were on a high state of alert because of the July 7 and July 21 bombings, and had been briefed that they may be called upon to carry out new tactics – shooting dead suspected suicide bombers in order to avoid another atrocity.
The IPCC investigation report states that the firearms unit had been told that “unusual tactics” might be required and if they “were deployed to intercept a subject and there was an opportunity to challenge, but if the subject was non-compliant, a critical shot may be taken”.
But it now appears, that contrary to earlier claims, Mr de Menezes was oblivious to the stakeout operation. On the morning of July 22, police officers were in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill, watching a property they believed contained one or more of the would-be bombers who had tried to detonate four bombs on London transport less than 24 hours before.
One firearms officer is quoted as saying: “The current strategy around the address was as follows: no subject coming out of the address would be allowed to run and that an interception should take place as soon as possible away from the address trying not to compromise it.”
But the report shows that there was a failure in the surveillance operation and officers wrongly believed Mr de Menezes could have been one of two suspects.
The leaked papers state: “De Menezes was observed walking to a bus stop and then boarded a bus, travelling to Stockwell tube station.
“During the course of this, his description and demeanour was assessed and it was believed he matched the identity of one of the suspected wanted for terrorist offences … the information was passed through the operations centre and gold command made the decision and gave appropriate instructions that de Menezes was to be prevented from entering the tube system. At this stage the operation moved to code red tactic, responsibility was handed over to CO19.”
CCTV footage shows Mr de Menezes was not wearing a padded jacket, as originally claimed, and that he walked calmly through the barriers at Stockwell station, collecting a free newspaper before going down the escalator. Only then did he run to catch the train.
A man sitting opposite him is quoted as saying: “Within a few seconds I saw a man coming into the double doors to my left. He was pointing a small black handgun towards a person sitting opposite me. He pointed the gun at the right hand side of the man’s head. The gun was within 12 inches of the man’s head when the first shot was fired.”
A senior police source last night told the Guardian that the leaked documents and statements gave an accurate picture of what was known so far about the shooting. But the IPCC refused to confirm the documents were genuine adding: “Our priority is to disclose any findings direct to the family, who will clearly be distressed that they have received information on television concerning his death.”
The home secretary, Charles Clarke, said: “It is critically important for the integrity of the independent police investigating process that no pressure is put upon the IPCC before their full report is published and that no comment is made until that time.”
Harriet Wistrich, lawyer for the family, said: “There is incompetence on the part of those watching the suspect and a serious breakdown of communication.”
Asad Rehman, spokesman for the family’s campaign, called for a public inquiry. “This was not an accident,” he said. “It was serious neglect. Clearly, there was a failure both in police intelligence and on an operational level.”
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005Brazilian was held before being shot!