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The right policy, the wrong person

To run from armed police who are shouting at you (rather than shooting at you) at any time is an extremely bad idea… to do so at a time like this in London is utter madness.

Anyone running from armed cops who have challenged them first in London today should expect to get shot dead given the clear and present danger we are in… but that does not makes this any less of a horror. If Jean Charles de Menezes just reacted idiotically to the situation he found himself in, that does not mean we should feel distain for him.

We really need to know exactly what happened and why, but shooting a man dead who is suspected of being a suicide bomber and who is running away and trying to board a train(!) when being called on to stop is not the incorrect response. It was a tragedy of execution (in ever sense of the word) but not an incorrect policy.

128 comments to The right policy, the wrong person

  • John East

    I was in full agreement with your sentiment when this story broke, but two thoughts have worried me since.

    Firstly, the cops in question were not in uniform. This should be looked into. I saw on TV news the other day some police wearing T-shirts and jeans with drawn guns, but they were also wearing baseball caps with police bands and logos. Maybe the rule change needed is that once you draw your weapon and challenge anyone, you should simultaneously take your police issue baseball cap out of your pocket and put it on.

    The second thought that occured to me is this, what could happen if armed police came up behind a deaf person and challenged them?

  • Rob

    A similar thought occurred to me too. If a group of casually-dressed men with guns ran towards me shouting, I’d feel inclined to leg it as quickly as possible in the opposite direction… perhaps in the direction of the nearest place where there would be other people around… like an Underground station…

    The whole thing appears to be a tragic mistake. I don’t think the police can be blamed for this, but I think there may be lessons that can be learned for future incidents.

  • Huh? The notion that a group of dozen or so white guys with G36 rifles (three of the pictures of the people at the tube I have seen showed guy withw folding stock rifles) could be ANYONE other than security services is just bizarre. ‘Legging it’ is just suicidal and frankly makes no sence.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I was trained to fire warning shots first if the suspect/intruder/whatever was presenting no immediate visible threat. Shoot-to-kill as the first, second, and last resort was applicable only when the other guy is shooting back.

    I feel the approach tactic was also quite wrong. Granted, a real suicide bomber or even a bomb-planter presented very real threats to the officers and the civilians around them, but just two guys(uniformed or not) walking up to the guy and calmly asking him some questions with backup some distance away should be the method used, instead of charging straight at the guy waving their guns. This is admittedly very risky to the officers and the civilians in the vicinity, but I can’t think of any other way to avoid such tragic incidents.

    Many people cannot tell one gun from another, especially at a distance. Anybody waving a gun at them is liable to make them panic, and the last thing they would be thinking is if the people with guns are security personnel. All they would think of is why armed gunmen are after their lives.

    Perry, nobody can think that fast when faced with an unexpected situation, and our instinctive reaction is fight-or-flight. And since the other side has guns, the usual reaction is flight.

    TWG

  • Perry, nobody can think that fast when faced with an unexpected situation, and our instinctive reaction is fight-or-flight. And since the other side has guns, the usual reaction is flight.

    Clearly that is not the ‘usual’ reaction. People get arrested at gunpoint all over the world, mostly without getting shot dead. For example the guy shown in TV getting arrested at gunpoint near Downing Street the other day did exactly the right things to avoid getting shot.

    I have been arrested at gunpoint by twitchy young HVO soldiers (in Herzegovina, in 1993) and I did not survive by trying to outrun a rifle bullet, I survived by putting my hands up and giving no one cause to regard me as a threat.

  • This is war, guys. You read and hear about this kind of thing happening in regular combat zones all the time. When it does, investigations are normally carried out, but often there is no one to be held responsible, because some times thes are just tragic accidents. You are simply in a combat zone from now on, and I am afraid you will have to get used to it.

  • Oh, I see now that Perry knows a thing or two about it, so may be he will agree with me…

  • Old Jack Tar

    There needs to be an enquiry each time this happens to see if mistakes can be avoided but ultimatly I agree entirely with Alisa.

  • Actually, I find it none too hard to believe that someone for whom English was not his first language would not realise that the men with guns chasing him were agents of the state. Indeed, many people emigrate to London and never bother to learn much English at all, so the idea that he could make sense of what was being shouted at him, and reconcile it with the plainclothes men with guns who were running after him, is a bit of an assumption.

    What I can’t help but wonder is why, if they thought the guy had a bomb, they allowed him to board a bus. Was the risk that he might blow up some bus passengers worth taking if there was a chance that he’d lead them to one of his cronies?

  • What I can’t help but wonder is why, if they thought the guy had a bomb, they allowed him to board a bus. Was the risk that he might blow up some bus passengers worth taking if there was a chance that he’d lead them to one of his cronies?

    Yes, that is a bit puzzling.

  • Otis

    Jackie Danicki said:

    I find it none too hard to believe that someone for whom English was not his first language would not realise that the men with guns chasing him were agents of the state

    According to his family, he spoke good English.

  • At what point during the walk from the house did Menezes make the suveillance team,at what point did he start runnng.
    I am not convinced by the efficacy of Perry’s survival technique,a friend in full naval uniform was stopped by guards with guns beaten up and robbed,he reckons what saved him was the uniform and the warship on the dock.

  • Junk2Rubbish

    “The right policy” right up to the point where the man was overpowered.
    It was then that the policy of shooting first and asking questions later was flatly wrong.

  • Lee

    Most of you seem to be on the same side of this as Red Ken. Are you sure you want to go there?

  • Verity

    I agree with Perry’s thoughtful, rational post. I am very sorry this man died, but he had lived in Britain for three years and spoke good English. He knew that London – indeed the whole country – was in a state of high terrorist alert. He knew that a fortnight previously three tubes had been blown up, one bus had been blown up and 750 killed, maimed or otherwise injured. Every time he passed a tube station during that fortnight, he would have seen the latest Evening Standard headlines. He knew London was full of armed police. He knew that he resembled the ethnic type of the terrorists.

    We may never know why he chose not to obey the order to halt, but it was his refusal to stop, and his fleeing that caused him to be shot.

    Wobbly – your suggestion of warning shots boggles the mind in its naiveté. You are speaking from experience of your compulsory two weeks annual military training in Singapore. I cannot imagine the complaints and the fury there would be if armed London police officers were to go around firing warning shots in densely populated London – and in crowded tube stations yet! The officers had been well-trained and they acted swiftly and properly.

    It is tragic that the young man didn’t stop when ordered to do so, but he didn’t.

  • sam

    “He knew that he resembled the ethnic type of the terrorists.”
    Er.. what?

    The facts are:
    1. The police allowed him to get on a bus before he went into the tube. So why didn’t they confront him before he boarded the bus?
    2. He looked as white as Verity no doubt looks.
    3. He was an electrician on his way to fit a fire alarm, which explains reports of ‘wires’ and ‘devices’
    4. The police, who were not uniformed, ran after him with guns.
    5. He had lived in a Brazilian slum were it probably makes sense to run away from people who are screaming at you holding guns – whether they’re the police or not.
    6. His bad luck was to come out of a building which was being watched by police.

  • Eric Sivula

    Most of you seem to be on the same side of this as Red Ken. Are you sure you want to go there? -Lee

    Lee, there is an old saw about broken clocks and and the occasional display of the correct time….

  • Verity

    sam – I saw what purported to be a CCTV picture of him and he looked ethnic. It wasn’t in colour, so I don’t know what his skin tone was, but the photo I saw was such that he could have been a Paki.

    If you know so much about him – that he had lived in “a Brazilian slum”, where would that be? Brazil is a vast country and “Brazilian slum” sounds like a lazy way of saying he was somehow “disadvantaged.” Not many people who live in “Brazilian slums” manage to make their way to Britain and become electricians. How did he get from this “Brazilian slum” to London? Was Peter Mandelson involved?

  • We’ve really come full circle now
    “We are now satisfied that the individual we shot yesterday was not connected with the incidents of Thursday 21st July 2005” says Scotland Yard, emulating the Pentagon’s steely technocratic verbiage…

    After all, what’s the value of a single “disconnected collateral damage” when Tony and George are busy with grander schemes, tomahawking the Middle-East into a freedom-loving/Exxon-friendly paradise?

    We’ve really come full circle now: after having fixed fake intelligence around BushBlair’s martial foreign policy (2000-2002), after having supervised the invasion and occupation of a country that posed no threat to the West whether “imminent” or otherwise (2003-to that day), Israel’s Neocon “security experts” are now exporting their technical know-how in handling “dark-skinned urban insurgency” be it Middle-Eastern, Islamic, Hispanic-looking or whatever: US marines and Scotland Yard’s operatives seem to be learning real fast.

  • Interstingly Al Qaeda which was involved in the 9/11,which as we know was prior to the invasion of Iraq,is also involved in the London and Egypt bombings full circle indeed!

  • sam

    Verity,
    If he was a “Paki” (do you work for Nick Griffin?), than so are you, Paki. The fact that he previously lived in a slum district in Sao Paulo has been already widely reported. The BBC has said “The murder rates in some of these slums are worse than in a lot of war zones and that could explain why, when plain clothes officers pulled a gun on him, he may have run away.” You don’t seem to have read anything about it as most of what you have to say comes out of your arse.

  • Simon Walsh

    Victor and Peter are quite right

  • GCooper

    “Dr” Victorino de la Vega writes:

    “…Israel’s Neocon…”

    Sieg Heil!

  • GCooper

    Perry de Havilland writes:

    “‘Legging it’ is just suicidal and frankly makes no sense.”

    Just a couple of observations to add to the debate. He was possibly an illegal immigrant and was being pursued by men in plain clothes, one of whom, apparently, had a hand gun. I don’t think running is such an unlikely thing to do in that situation, however unwise.

    I am 100% behind the police in this awful time. But I think we have to strive very, very hard not to let the state start using this terror campaign as an excuse to ride roughshod over the law.

    There are anomalies in this case and they need the closest scrutiny. We need to be told the truth and, I’m afraid, neither of the two Bliars seems a likely source for that.

  • MT Wilkins

    GCooper, your comments are simplistic/childish…
    The mere fact of criticizing Israel or Wolfowitz doesn’t imply you’re a German nationalist or a rightwinger

    I think Dr Vic has a point

  • GCooper

    MT Wilkins writes:

    “The mere fact of criticizing Israel or Wolfowitz doesn’t imply you’re a German nationalist or a rightwinger”

    You should read the good doctor’s other comment on this blog.

    Frankly, the anti-semitism of the pro-Palestinian Left strikes me as every bit as disgusting as that of the National Socialists . Not “right wing”, please. At least get your terminology straight.

  • Verity

    sam – try to remember that you are in a zone of civilised discourse.

    Can I ask you why saying “Paki” gets me accused of working for Nick Griffiths? Is it OK to say “Brit” instead of Briton? Is it OK to say “Yank” instead of American? No one has ever threatened to cut my head off for saying “Frog” instead of Frenchman – and that includes saying it among friends in France, by the way. Could you let me know if it’s OK to say “Kraut” instead of German? Is it OK to say “Lankan” instead of Sri Lankan? When referring to native Malays, is it OK to say “Bhumi” instead of Bhumputera – especially as they say it themselves? I never mind when Chinese people refer to me as a gweilo, although it’s slightly derisory. Maybe I should be highly offended and make a scene? Could you email me your Highly Official Approved Nickname List, please, as I really fear offending such a sensitive person as yourself.

    I wonder how this young man made it out of the slums of Sao Paulo to London, if he was so poor and disadvantaged. Slum dwellers are usually delighted to move to a better class of slum, but this guy made it all the way to London. Surely he was intelligent enough to have become acculturated in the three years he lived in London? He could speak good English. He was aware that London was on high terror alert. He was aware that there were armed police officers everywhere.

    This is nothing against the young man, whose accidental death is, until we know otherwise, a tragedy. I am tired of people like you racing to pick up someone else’s gauntlett in the cause of political correctness because you think this illustrates that your sensibilities are more fine-tuned than anyone else’s. This young man had lived in London for three years, speaking and reading good English. He obviously wasn’t stupid. He obviously knew he was in London, not Sao Paulo. For whatever reason he failed to halt, it wasn’t because he thought he was in Sao Paola. Get a life!

  • I am not convinced by the efficacy of Perry’s survival technique,a friend in full naval uniform was stopped by guards with guns beaten up and robbed,he reckons what saved him was the uniform and the warship on the dock.

    How is that relevent to this at all? And are you under the impression MOST people run when confronted with armed people at close range? How do you think that works, exactly?

    The mere fact of criticizing Israel or Wolfowitz doesn’t imply you’re a German nationalist or a rightwinger

    No, but as Dr Victorino de la Vega is clearly a supporter of mass murderous Ba’athist Socialism, which is National Socialism by any reasonable definition, I think the fascist taunt is quite appropriate. If it lwrites like a fascist and sounds like a fascist, chances are, its a fascist.

    And as for the whole ‘left/right’ thing, it matters a great deal less than you obviously think whether or not a socialist is a a right-socialist or a left-socialist because those are just different flavours of the same poison Kool Aid.

  • sam

    Griffin, not Griffiths, you drooling moron.

  • Frankly,I think Ian Blair was under pressure to get a “result” in the wake of the first bombing,the second attempt would have put his job on the line.
    We need to know if operational imperitives were in any way affected by political necessity.
    Tony Blair will have consulted his focus groups and taken note of the dscontent.I am wondering how the right to shoot to prevent an explosion can be weighed against the fact that until they detonste themselves the bombers remain anonymous.
    We have seen too much kneejerk legislation in this country by politicians who desperately need to be seen doing something,it is not however these same politicians who will be hung out to dry when the policy goes wrong.
    That is why we need to know the ins and outs of this tragic debacle before the whole security policy is left dead in the water.

  • I couldn’t agree more with Perry.

  • “How is that relevent to this at all? And are you under the impression MOST people run when confronted with armed people at close range? How do you think that works, exactly?”

    Perry the were a lot of people in the camps who wished they had taken the chance.There still is.
    Some people run,some stand,some even shoot back,there is nothing hard and fast about.

  • D Allen

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d wonder if there’s any possibility the man was an Al Q decoy (i.e., ‘your martyr operation is to walk out of the house of a known extremist with a thick, padded coat in July, draw some attention to yourself as you make your way to public transportation, and run into the subway as police tackle or even shoot you’). The result is a public-relations disaster for the police who will have to answer to criticism of “triggy happy” and “overzealous behavior”. Whatever the true details of this incident are, this was a gift-wrapped present to the jihadists.

  • DavidBruno

    Perry,

    “The notion that a group of dozen or so white guys with G36 rifles (three of the pictures of the people at the tube I have seen showed guy withw folding stock rifles) could be ANYONE other than security services is just bizarre.”

    Someone who has been brought up in Brazil – a country with a police force renowned for brutal thuggery and corruption (particularly when in plain clothes) – would probably be more frightened of approaching gun-toting plain-clothes policemen than nearly anyone else. One of the passengers said that he looked utterly petrified. He was probably absolutely shocked and confused and instinctively chose the psychological coping mechanism of ‘flight’ – no matter how illogical it may retrospectively appear to be.

    On another point, the assumption that it is strange for someone to wear a coat on a london summer day does not take into account that someone who has lived nearly all his life in an excessively hot and humid tropical climate might find a London summer day chilly.

    I only add these comments in order to try to explain why he may not have stopped and why he may have been dressed as he was.

    The current police policy of shoot to kill has to be correct given the current security risk in London.

    This does not lessen the tragedy for this man or his family at this time.

  • stephen ottridge

    My viewpoint from Canada is that the Brazilian was very stupid in applying his cultural background to the situation. Were there no uniformed police around that he could have run to for protection if he felt threatened by gunmen in plain clothes? I still also do not understand why he was wearing a winter coat in July in London.

  • Tony

    Verity’s post (snipped) totally sums it up for me:

    I agree with Perry’s thoughtful, rational post. I am very sorry this man died, but he had lived in Britain for three years and spoke good English. He knew that London – indeed the whole country – was in a state of high terrorist alert. He knew that a fortnight previously three tubes had been blown up, one bus had been blown up and 750 killed, maimed or otherwise injured. Every time he passed a tube station during that fortnight, he would have seen the latest Evening Standard headlines. He knew London was full of armed police. He knew that he resembled the ethnic type of the terrorists.

    If it turns out that this man had no connection with terrorists, then it really is a tragedy – but, we are at war here (and it didn’t start with Iraq). There are going to be accidents, sometimes with horrible outcomes, but that’s the way of warfare.

    If it’s done anything positive, it’s shown people in this country that the terror level has changed from the 70′s and 80′s (ever wonder why you can’t find a rubbish bin on the rail network or underground – thank the IRA for that one) and that the rules have changed.

  • Verity

    I still contend the Brazilian was not a moron and well well aware that he was in London and a very long way away from life in Sao Paolo. He’d been in London for three years. He spoke good English. He was acculturated. Why he ran, we don’t know, but it wasn’t because he thought he was in Sao Paolo.

    Dave Bruno – temperatures in Sao Paolo in July are similar to London. Highs in the low 70sF, lows in the mid-50s. That, however, is their winter because they are south of the Equator. But I would have thought he would have been well-acclimatised in three years. Otherwise, what would he wear during our winter?

    Until we hear otherwise, we have to regard this as a horrible, horrible tragedy. But we may well hear something further.

  • If Menezes was carrying a bomb why run,why not find the biggest crowd or get close to the police and detonate? That is what the Palestinians do.Apparently he was allowed onto a bus why not there?
    There are too many questions and answers have not been forthcoming

  • RAB

    Why was this poor sod coming out of a house that was under survailance?What was he doing there?He’s supposedly and electician.What was he re-wiring? the next batch of bombs perhaps because the last lot failed to work? Why did he run? I dont care where you come from or how crappy and cold justice is round those parts, the fact is he was here and should know how things work HERE.The police officer who fired the shots must be thinking his life has just ended as much as his victims(and probably will be by the time the enquiries get back to us).When ordered to stop by the police in Great Britain at this point in time, it is best to comply.If you have nothing to hide you can get lippy later.Via your lawyer.

  • “If you have nothing to hide you can get lippy later.Via your lawyer”.

    If of course, having caught you, the police don’t think it expedient to put a few rounds into your head.Buggers up lippy altogether!

  • James Wetterau

    In response to Perry de Havilland’s comments:

    How on earth is anyone supposed to know that a group of armed men — whether white, black or asian — is not an armed gang? Criminals can’t get guns in England because gun control is 100% effective? White people don’t join the mafia or the mob or what have you?

    Are you seriously proposing that the onus should be on a poor vicitm not to run from armed men chasing him or her with guns drawn on the assumption that they’re police because they’re white? What if you have enemies? Why could not any criminal gang use this as their modus operandi for assassinations – posing as police?

    In the U.S., where I live, criminals have been known to impersonate the police to get inside houses and commit crimes. How much easier to do so in plainclothes?

    There should be no right to run from armed white men in England, because they might be police? What about self-defense?

  • Verity

    James Wetterau – You are aware, presumably, that London is on high terrorist alert? You know that 2 1/2 weeks ago London Transport was targetted, with 750 people killed, maimed or otherwise injured in three tube bombings and a bus bombing?

    You are aware that there were four failed copycat incidents on the 2nd week anniversary, last Thursday and the police and special services were on a manhunt throughout London that day? You are aware that the dead man was acting in a way that drew the attention of the police? That he was wearing a heavy winter coat in the height of summer? That he exited from a house that was under police surveillance for possible sheltering of terrorists?

    You’re aware that when told to halt by the police, he took off at a run into a crowded tube station? That he jumped a turnstile and ran onto a crowded train? That if he had been a terrorist, at this point he would have depressed the plunger and killed everyone on the carriage?

    I really don’t think that, “In the U.S., where I live, criminals have been known to impersonate the police to get inside houses and commit crimes.” is relevant in a high alert terrorist bomber manhunt where the streets are flooded with armed police and there are helicopters circling above and police sirens can be heard all over the area.

    I don’t know why, but I have a feeling you haven’t got a clue what this topic is all about. Reading the comments preceding your own before jumping in might have enlightened you

  • fFreddy

    Does anyone know what is the source for the assertion that the police let the Brazilian get on a bus ?

  • ffreddy,
    Could quite easily be part of the mythology growing up around this incident.That it is why the police need to speak up.

  • Verity

    I don’t know, fFreddy. I hadn’t seen that myself and the first I read of it was on Samizdata.

    **Astonishment Alert!** I read in The Grauniad that “Sir Ian Blair, apologised to the family of Mr de Menezes, but said there would be no change to the police policy and admitted more people could be shot in the hunt for the London bombers and their accomplices. (My italics)

    He also said: “There is nothing gratuitous or cavalier going on. There is no shoot to kill policy, there is a shoot to kill to protect policy.”

    In other words, they’re not going to hang these officers out to dry.

  • James Wetterau

    Verity: I live in New York City, where I have lived for most of my life, and where I was born. I distnctly recall the aftermath of September 11, and seeing many more armed men — both police and military — going to and fro around my native city, especially in Grand Central Station. I know what that environment was like and perhaps this gives me some basis for imagining what life must be like in London now — I have lived through something similar.

    I do not condemn the police for their actions. Neither am I certain that they got it right. I wish I knew a little more about the circumstances. ?Nonetheless, I see two problems with your summary of the state of affairs:

    1. Just because this state of affairs presently prevails does not mean that criminals could not take advantage of it to kill innocent people. I am not a believer in gun control, and I do not see that the state of affairs you describe prevents armed gangs from using cover as police to kill their enemies. If the vicitm had enemies, the situation could be a completely understandable tragedy.

    2. I am very alarmed and somewhat revolted by the idea that the race of one’s pursuer should change one’s ability to take defensive action. I’m very alarmed by the idea that one loses one’s reasonable basis for self-defense based merely on the race of the people giving chase.

    Self-defense should turn on the question of reasonable fear. I do not yet know whether the victim had a reasonable fear of these police officers. For example, imagine if he had enemies who had threatened his life – then perhaps he had a reasonable basis to be in fear for his life, and the mystery of his tragic death comes clear.

    For their part, police, especially in times of emergency, should do everything they possibly can to allay reasonable fears. Operating in plainclothes and assuming that the color of their skin and the caliber of their weapons should act as proof of their identity strikes me as far less than everything they could do.

    Now that does not mean that the police acted wrongly. Perhaps, in this situation, there just wasn’t enough time to do anything more. Perhaps they did the best they could do. In which case, an unavoidably tragic situation unfolded.

    However, I think it is imperative for libertarians not to blindly trust police or other authorities, and certainly not to accept the notion that the color of one’s skin and possession of a certain kind of gun somehow ought to be, in all situations, a sufficient badge of authority to compel obedience. Frankly, I find such an attitude servile and anti-libertarian. The right to take reasonable measures of self-defense becomse more important — not less important — in times of such a crisis.

  • J

    Can one of the posters who thinks that ‘we are at war’ please explain their justification for this belief. We aren’t even officially at war with Iraq any more.

    Some deranged fringe elements may actually believe that we are in a low intensity civil war, and that London tube stations really are in a war zone. I have checked with a friend in the Royal Marines, and another ex-para, and they both assure me that in fact London is not a war zone, and there is no civil war going on.

    In light of this happy news, perhaps we could now all _stop_ celebrating he state’s summary and largely incompetent execution of its innocent citizenry in the name of ‘public safety’.

    I had always though that liberty was more important than safety, but apparently when the bombs are going off in your country, that stops being the case. Odd.

  • Verity,
    It is early days yet,wait until the Guardian,Independent,the Today programmme and assorted bastions of media leftwingery open up.
    You realise that the man had been caught and he was still shot to paralyse any body movement and even if he had stopped,if the police had suspected he had a bomb and there was a risk to the public, the outcome would have been the same.

  • Verity

    No, no, Peter, I agree with you! What I am saying is, Ian Blair has been reported as saying what happened is a tragedy, but the police won’t be changing policy and it may well, tragically, happen again. I was astounded to see him take this robust attitude.

    However, at the same time, John Humphreys, Jon Snow, Polly Toynbee and all the usual lefties haven’t yet got the bit between their teeth. But Ian Blair seemed as though he was set on a course and wasn’t going to change his mind. We will see.

  • Walter Nedokus

    What if this person didn’t speak English? Three guys chasing you,, one with a gun why would you stop and see what they want?

  • Verity

    What if this person was from Mars? What if this person was on crutches? What if this person was an Olympic gymnast? What if this person was on horseback? What if this person wasn’t a person at all, but a large dog masquerading as a person and didn’t understand “Stop!” because he had always been taught, “Stay!”? What if this person was Diana Ross and thought these men were a tribute band?

    Gosh, I dunno. So many “what ifs”, so little sense.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Verity-Two weeks? Try two years and a half. Try waking up in the middle of the night on an intruder drill with the punishment of no-sleep if we did not follow correct procedure, plus extra physical training and being barked at by PO’ed sergeants about all the ramifications of not following the procedure which was developed for very sound purposes. I was trained in security, and I know the trade-offs very well.

    Shoot-to-kill is nice. Heck, I would love it! No fuss, no muss.

    BAM! Intruder/suspect dead. Just following procedure, Ma’am, sorry for shooting dead that fellow. He wandered into the wrong place.

    But it is also very costly politically in today’s climate, where every life is valued.

    It’s the whole situation suicide bombing terrorism has placed us in. Damned if you don’t, damned if you do. Imagine if the guy had been a real suicide bomber, and they took my recommended soft approach. Ok, so the guys doing the approach could get him to reveal his hands, but there’s still the chance he’ll press the button.

    And there’s the frightening prospect of a remote detonator, in which not even shoot-to-kill will help.

    How much will the British accept? If I’m not mistaken, the Israelis go shoot-to-kill, and they are probably strongly supported by their people, which makes it politically acceptable, because they are fighting for sheer survival.

    Is it politically acceptable to the British? What sort of procedure will they adopt? That is where the line will be drawn.

  • Verity,
    Ian Blair will change whichever way his master changes,it is the poor buggers who serve under him who will now have one eye out for any change in the wind. I’m bearing in mind the Bloody Sunday Inquiry,Colonel Tim Collins,the three officers Blair hung out to dry,Colonel Mendonca and the fact the government chose to prosecute the alleged offences in Iraq by the International Criminal Court Act rather than Court Martial.
    Don’t forget Tony Blair sleeps with the enemy.

  • Lee

    Judge Dredd

    href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1820832.stm”>(Link)

  • Alan Furman

    We are all Israelis now.

    Terrorists are war criminals who, in blending in, destroy not only the lives of noncombatants but the very fabric of civil liberties and the open society. When British police thought they had a suicide bomber on their hands, they followed doctrines developed from bitter experience by the Evil Zionist Entity and blew his brains out. They faced the sudden dilemma of whether to risk inadvertently executing an innocent man or to fail, even by seconds, to prevent the deaths and injury of many others. Moral responsibility for his death lies with the terror masters.

    The public debate will commence. And when it does, the politically correct multiculti appeaseniks, who have gotten away for years with their floating abstractions and self-congratulation about diplomacy, (third) world opinion, the Plight of the Hapless Palestinians, and “peace,” will have to deal with inescapable concrete evidence that the sanctioning of any culture of suicide terrorism leads to human sacrifice. And so this may turn out to be the most important event since September 11.

  • ffreddy,
    He is a reference to the bus journey

  • Verity

    What Alan Furman said.

    Peter, I am very, very aware that T Blair sleeps with the enemy. It is so obvious that I simply don’t understand why it’s not blazingly clear to the entire British electorate.

  • snide

    What if this person didn’t speak English?

    Then learn English.

    Three guys chasing you,, one with a gun why would you stop and see what they want?

    Why? Because that way you are less likely to get SHOT. See what happened as a case in point.

  • Verity

    This fellow spoke good English.

    He had been legally living in Britain for three years. Important point to remember: he was legal. He had no reason to fear Immigration. (Of course, in Tony Blair’s Britain, neither does anyone else.)

    In my own experience, one gets acclimated to weather in a year to 18 months. Within three years, you’re practically a native. This fellow as wearing a heavy winter coat in summer. Why?

    If someone furtively comes up to you at a cash machine with a gun, I can certainly understand a reluctance to engage with that person.

    If, on a day of high terrorist alert, after I had left a house which I might have cause to believe was being surveilled, some men shouted, “Stop or we’ll shoot!” (or similar) at me, unless I were extremely hyped up for some reason, I would stop with may hands held up way above my head and fingers splayed to show I wasn’t hiding anything.

    Even if I were an athletic young man, I wouldn’t jump over a turnstile, run down a flight of stairs and try to board a train. This was, if I may use a trite term, suicidal behaviour.

    More may come out about him, or he may be a tragic extra in this drama. But he reacted to a command to stop totally irrationally.

  • ernest young

    As this seems to be a continuation of a previous thread, I feel justified in reiterating that ‘IMHO’, the security folk have been very lucky in being able to get clues from the two bombings, that they have either misused that info, or more likely, totally misinterpreted it, is a matter for conjecture.

    In the first incident, the terrorists were carrying full ID when they were blown up, which provided the clues which enabled the police to trace the source. Most suicide bombers carry no ID when ‘on the job’. So the first bunch were at best inept, but they made the police look as though they were ‘on the ball’, when making several quick announcements, which were later proved incorrect.

    The second bunch were equally inept, and, once again Commish Blair came out smelling of roses, making several ‘connections’ and links, which again, seem to be incorect. The connection resulting in the killing of a member of the public, being particularly tragic, and so very wrong.

    This shows the police in their true light – if you care to examine the details; sure the guy ran from a building under surveillance, and failed to stop, but – and this is the nub of the matter, – he was not shot while trying to flee, he was shot while in captivity! Now I am all for a ‘shoot to kill’ policy in a ‘flee’ or ‘return fire’ situation, but this suspect was on the floor, with two plain clothes police holding him down. He was then assasinated, or murdered, if you prefer, quite deliberately. An error, in the act, or for being witnessed doing it?

    As I tried to explain in my previous comment, from everything that I have read re suicide bombers, they have a ‘explode on release’ trigger, and if the police are trained so thoroughly, – as we are led to believe, they would, or should, have known this.

    Rather than suspect our protectors of being licenced to kill, whatever the circumstances, I suspect that it was – and I think I am being generous here, – no more than yet another bungle, by a badly prepared force.

    The whole episode, if it was not of such serious consequence, with such tragic results, has from beginning to end, been no more than yet another episode on a par with anything the Keystone Kops ever produced.

    From being badly led, both politically and technically, to the comic insistance on strict compliance with Health and Safety regs, (when it doesn’t matter), and political correctness, to the crocodile tears of both Blairs’. Any decent human being, having seen this sort of error ‘on their watch’, would have resigned immediately.

    On the one hand we have a moribund, inept, police force, that has lost all incentive to do the job they are employed to do, and on the other hand we have equally inept and incompetent terrorists, who, fortunately, are too stupid to do their part – perhaps they too have the ‘English disease’, lacking in the incentive of their brothers in other places, to do a proper job.

    It would seem that they are well matched! But then both are the product of twentyfirst century Britain. What more could we, or should we expect?

  • ernest young

    Verity,

    Since when has irrational behaviour been a capital offence?

    If it was we would not have to suffer a socialist government.

  • Verity

    Ernest Young – Touché!

  • The Wobbly Guy

    What the British and everybody else in the world facing such problems have to do:

    Decide on the protocol and procedure, and stick to it, no exceptions. Make it perfectly clear to citizens and visitors, so they know what’s going on.

    Once that’s done, there should be no more hand wringing if somebody is shot dead by mistake by an aggressive policy or if a bomb goes off because the officers were adhering to the more passive rules of engagement.

    Didn’t somebody mention that Red Ken already articulated the shoot-on-sight policy?

    TWG

  • Tim

    To all the people saying “he maybe thought they were gangsters” –

    what? Why would gangsters be interested in an electrician in London? And anyway, you’ve got a bunch of guys behind you with guns, who you think might be gangsters – you think the best policy is to run or to maybe just hand over your wallet?

    I’m convinced there’s more to this than what we have been told.

  • Rob Fletcher

    He wasn’t coming out of a house that was under surveillance but a block of flats. Just what intelligence failure led to the police following him?

    It seems likely he panicked when challenged by plain-clothed armed men who he probably didn’t realise were cops. In the circumstances the wrong thing to do, but making a stupid mistake under pressure isn’t a capital offence. Neither is wearing unseasonable clothing or having a less than perfect grasp of English (there’s a big difference between having a functional command of a language & being able to instantly & accurately interpret shouting from severl gun-waving people under stress).

    The big questions that need answering are; how clearly did the police identify themselves as such and why were they following him in the first place?

  • Rob Fletcher

    Why would gangsters be interested in an electrician in London? And anyway, you’ve got a bunch of guys behind you with guns, who you think might be gangsters – you think the best policy is to run or to maybe just hand over your wallet?

    Why is everyone criticising the guy for not thinking clearly under pressure?

  • J

    Yes, it’s funny isn’t it? When the police / army shoot people by mistake in difficult circumstances, we are very quick to point out how they are under pressure and are being forced to make life-affecting decisions in a split second. And so we forgive them for the dead drivers at Iraqi checkpoints, and the dead civilians carrying table legs.

    But when a _civilian_ makes such a decision under pressure in a split second – oh, my what a stupid irrational fool he is! Did he not stop for .001 seconds to think of the heightened state of security? And did he not spend 0.03 seconds to consider his suspicious jacket? And why oh why did he not spend 0.45 seconds to asses the odds of people in plain clothes being police vs criminals? Fool!

    This incident is not about police making a poor split-second decision. It appears to be a series of poor decisions from the moment the victim left his flat.

    The notion that it’s OK for police to kill someone they think is a suicide bomber is quite insane. They must not only think them a bomber, but they must have evidence that would cause most reasonable people to think the same. So far, we have:

    1. Lives near people suspected of terrorist links
    2. Wears bulky jacket
    3. Runs toward tube train when told to freeze in a tube station.

    Item one is pathetic. Proximity of address, esp. in London must count for almost nothing. I have lived next door to drug dealers, but that has no bearing on the odds of me being one. Even credit reference agencies are finally figuring that one out.

    Item two is no better. A casual glance at the % of the population wearing bulky clothing on that day would show that statistical irrelevance of this.

    Item three is worst of all. If they had been uniformed, his running might well have indicated guilt of some crime in the past or present. As for running onto a train – well, he couldn’t exactly run anywhere else, as he was in a tube station and the police were in the entrance.

    It is a simple case of the psychology of the poorly trained. Having decided someone is ‘dodgy’ you start to add up the evidence that supports the belief, whilst dropping the evidence that refutes it, and in no time you’ve convinced yourself that he’s definitely about to blow himself up.

    An account of the US shooting of a civilian airliner over Iran in 80′s is an excellent example of this effect in action, showing how an entire destroyer full of trained staff managed to mistake a climbing civilian airliner for a military aircraft starting an attack run on their ship.

    The more we let this ‘we are at war, expect collateral damage to happen’ attitude take hold, the more people will be killed.

  • There seems to have been two groups of police,one keeping the flats from where Menezes emerged.These then followed him until at some point it was decided to call in an armed response team.
    Menezes,was wearing the clothes he wore the night before because he had not been home,he was on his way to work in kilburn,he was allowed to board a number 2 bus,it was only when he tried to but a ticket for the tube that the armed police went into action.
    The use of an armed response team is usually an indication that the unarmed police will not tackle a suspect,calling in an armed response team has often in the past,has meant that the suspect ends up dead.
    It is worth noting that procedure is designed primarily with the safety of officers in mind.Hence the case of the man who got shot carrying a chair leg.

  • Verity

    Rob Fletcher – Why are so many people on this thread in denial? (there’s a big difference between having a functional command of a language & being able to instantly & accurately interpret shouting from severl gun-waving people under stress).

    For the 19th time, by all accounts, he spoke good English. Not functional. Good. He’d been in London for three years, mixing around with English people, working as an electrician among English people, watching English TV, reading English papers, with English friends. When you are young, you pick up a language very quickly, especially if you are immersed in it. Three years is more than enough to develop fluency. Whyever he didn’t stop, it wasn’t because he didn’t understand what, “Stop! Police!” meant.

  • GCooper

    Here we go. Today’s BBC Radio 4 lunchtime news is in full-on ‘we must protect the Moslem community’, ‘we must consult the Moslem community’ mode.

    Interviews with Za-Nu Labour’s “Lord” Ahmed and Gwynn Prosser MP, both blathering away in best Grauniad multiculti style, the entire subliminal tone of the programme being calculated to make the vast majority of the population of this country feel that, somehow, it is in the wrong and that it is the Moslem element (not “community”) that is being hard done-by.

    Is there really no way we can stop these Gramscian wreckers from spreading their poison at our expense?

  • Rob Fletcher

    What am I in denial about? We don’t know what caused him to run. The police said they told him to stop but we don’t know exactly what the police shouted at him and as I said this should surely be a main, if not the main, question that needs answering in an investigation into the shooting. In a confused situation shouting (especially as in this case several people presumably shouting at once) can be difficult to understand for anyone.

    Describing his command of English as “good” can cover a lot of ground. All I’m pointing out is that it’s possible that it may have been a contributary factor in his decision to flee the police.

    I have a fair amount of sympathy for the police in this case and I do think that the policy of shooting to kill at persons who are attempting to carry out suicide attack is right and necessary but I do find troubling and offensive the chain of logic that goes; he should have stopped, therefore he’s clearly an idiot, therefore he deserved to be shot. It’s also pretty ironic that so many voices on a blog that’s so anti-ID card are asking “if he had nothing to hide why did he run”.

    I hardly think it’s in violation of a libertarian ethos to expect state agents to be held accountable for taking the life of a member of the public. The least the poor guy deserves is a full investigation. If such finds that the shooting genuinely was a tragic mistake then fair enough. If however it finds that negligence or recklessness on the part of the firearms officers or those supplying them with intelligence was a factor then it’s right that some restitution me made.

  • James Wetterau

    In response to:
    ‘To all the people saying “he maybe thought
    they were gangsters” -

    what? Why would gangsters be interested in an
    electrician in London? And anyway, you’ve got a
    bunch of guys behind you with guns, who you
    think might be gangsters – you think the best
    policy is to run or to maybe just hand over your
    wallet?’

    Perhaps I am extrapolating too much from my lifelong experience in NYC, but here it would not be unheard of for a seemingly ordinary guy to cross a thug by not repaying debts, or by an affair, or a bad drug deal, and then to be in fear of his life.

    Such things never happen in London, because your wonderful police and gun control have eliminated crime?

    Anyway, I’m not suggesting that this is the most likely explanation. I’m suggesting that in a world where such things can happen, and sometimes do happen, the least one should expect of the police is doing their utmost to eliminate the chance of a mistaken but reasonable misidentification. I hasten to add that I do not prejudge — perhaps they did the best they could. But it seems too early to me to assume that.

    And to all those who’ve been analogizing the police activities to war: this sort of problem is precisely why soldiers wear uniforms, something the police in this case did not do.

  • Verity

    Rob Fletcher – You’re a Gramscian, aren’t you? Masquerading as a libertarian? This perversion could only have been written by a Gramscian: “troubling and offensive the chain of logic that goes; he should have stopped, therefore he’s clearly an idiot, therefore he deserved to be shot.”

    Could you do us all a little favour and trawl back through these comments and identify where one person – just one – wrote that he was shot because he was a presumed idiot. You have perverted the entire point of shooting him.

    He failed to stop when ordered to do so by the police. In normal circumstances, this would probably earn him a good thumping. But the police thought they were apprehending an Islamic terrorist who was going to detonate a bomb on the London Underground. Can you follow this thought?

    They believed this because two weeks previously, three tubes and a bus had been blown up by Islamic terrorists. Earlier on the day this Brazilian was shot, there had been an attempt to mirror those events again.

    This man was shot because he exited suspicious premises, he was dressed suspiciously and he FAILED TO STOP WHEN THE POLICE ORDERED HIM TO DO SO. Instead he fled. The police took his refusal to stop and his fleeing as a sign of intent to blow up the tube and kill people. Geddit?

    How dare you write that any of us on this thread thought this man deserved to be shot for being an idiot! We have all written that this was a tragedy. What you wrote is sheer Gramscian perversion and is worthy of Tony Blair, Charles Clarke, Jack Straw, Cherie Blair, al Guardian, The Independent and the BBC all rolled up into one foul lump.

  • James Wetterau,
    Menezes was coming from a house in Brixton our nearest equivalent to the Bronx,if he was in possession of a jailable quantity of drugs he would have run until he had time to dump them. The obvious point is that he obviously did not think he was going to be shot.
    In such circumstances many of our criminal fraternity have it away on their toes,it is standard procedure.Whilst not saying Menezes was of that ilk,he might have been picking something recreational up.

  • Rob Fletcher

    Yes, “deserved” was the wrong word to use. How about “was asking to”.

    “‘Legging it’ is just suicidal and frankly makes no sence.”

    “For example the guy shown in TV getting arrested at gunpoint near Downing Street the other day did exactly the right things to avoid getting shot.”

    I’m not trying to say anyone here wanted him to be shot, or is pleased that he was. Please calm down. I don’t like that some people seem to be saying the fault is automatically all his because he made a stupid mistake.

    Can I follow this thought? Of course. That’s why I said I have a lot of sympathy in this case for the police and think their policy is basically right, or did you just see red & ignore that bit?

    I live in London. Warren St is my stop for work. Next week I’m moving to a flat 5 minutes from Stockwell station. Believe me, I know what the atmosphere in London is like & I wouldn’t run from armed police at the moment, but neither do I want to write off someone who made that mistake when it seems very possible that there were serious failures in the actions of the police.

  • Verity

    Rob Fletcher – I accept what you say, but let’s face it, when the police in any part of the world tell you to stop, the wise person immediately stops. You are not going to outrun a bullet.

    BTW, from the picture that ran in the papers of this man and his family, they didn’t look like slum dwellers. I wonder who put that rumour about, and why.

  • fFreddy

    Rob Fletcher :

    I hardly think it’s in violation of a libertarian ethos to expect state agents to be held accountable for taking the life of a member of the public. The least the poor guy deserves is a full investigation. If such finds that the shooting genuinely was a tragic mistake then fair enough. If however it finds that negligence or recklessness on the part of the firearms officers or those supplying them with intelligence was a factor then it’s right that some restitution be made.

    The problem with this lies in the investigation’s judgement call of “negligence or recklessness”, particularly once Cherie bloody Blair sees an opportunity for an EU human rights angle.
    In recent years, the balance on these things has been so skewed against anything that could be perceived as “the state” that, however much I agree with your basic statement, I would be afraid of ending up with rules of engagement that do not permit gunfire prior to a signed confession.
    “Innocent until proven guilty” carries a risk/return trade-off that a large number of false negatives are better than a false positive. Suicide bombers in a mass transit vehicle must change that trade-off.
    No, I don’t like it, and no, I am not sure where the right point of balance should lie.

  • Can be kindly have a bit less name calling?

    A little snarkiness is fine but it generally does not help to accuse people of being a ‘Gramscian’ or a ‘libertarian’ or a ‘Groucho Marxist’ or whatever. What matters here is that people have something useful and coherent to say. It might be better to let people deduce the -isms for themselves.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Uhm, almost everybody with a basic command of english should understand what a person means when he shouts, “STOP!”

    Unless they went archaic and said, “Cease and desist”, “Halt”, or some other more esoteric phrases.
    How hard is it to understand the word “Stop”?

    Frankly speaking, we have no idea what the policemen shouted, but I submit that even if they said stop, the poor guy was hardly listening and paying more attention to their guns.

    When you have a society that does not have much contact with firearms, guns become objects of immense fear and power. Perhaps his reaction would be typical of most Britons.

    TWG

  • JC

    I really can’t believe so many so called Libertarians are defending the police and the state in this instance. The man’s crime for having his life taken away was running from the police, police who were not clearly marked out by uniform for they were in plain clothes.

    This was a disgusting blunder but i of course understand the difficulty of dealing with men who will happily blow themselves up to kill others. Intelligence has to be really good to go through with a shoot first procedure. If not you have to accept someone being innocent til proven guilty.

    Checks can be made on suspicious people but ultimately it is near on impossible to prevent and stop people who are willing to do these things. The cries of being on “high terrorist alert” is something akin to the idea of special national “emergencies” in Ayn Rand novels.

    If there is anyway to prevent terrorist action then its taking British troops out of Iraq and every other country our gallant troops are in.

  • ernest young

    How many more times does it have to be said? The man was NOT running away when he was shot, he was on the floor, with two officers holding him down, ergo he was ‘in captivity’, he was then shot ….

    Was this the result of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy? I very much doubt it. Was this the result of an over enthusiastic officer getting too macho? – maybe. Or was it just the result of poorly led, poorly trained officer getting ‘caught up in the moment’. I doubt that he had orders to kill irrespective of the circumstances.

    Whatever the reason, if the facts are as I have read and heard, that he was on the floor, and being restrained when he was shot, then this was no less than a murder, and yes, he should be held to account.

    I sincerely hope that the descriptions of the shooting that I have read are incorrect and that that it did not go-down as described in the media, both for the shooter and the victims family’s sake.

    Having listened to the briefing from the anti terrorist unit today, I am ever more convinced that they really do not know just what to do, they seem to be using the same m.o. that they would use to investigate a local burglary or mugging, that is if they still do such things.

    I very much hope that something positive does come from the disposition of so much man-power, but I am not holding my breath waiting for it to happen…

  • JC: “… If there is anyway to prevent terrorist action then its taking British troops out of Iraq and every other country our gallant troops are in. ”

    Oh, you propose to surrender?

    Sorry. Not interested.

    To the people who are banging on about why the police shouldn’t have shot this poor fellow: Let me propose an analogy.

    Consider a policeman who’s been armed, because of a string of bank robberies in which the felons have been using automatic weapons. Citizens, guards, and police officers have been shot dead. Highly publicized, as you might imagine; and it’s also been made clear that armed police officers and plainclothesmen are now on watch outside banks.

    Now… the policeman sees someone headed towards the bank. This fellow has a long raincoat on… in midsummer. Perhaps the coat hangs oddly. It raises the suspicions of the police officer, who calls on the man to stop.

    The man turns, and starts to reach into his coat.

    What is the police officer to do, right then, right there? He has no access to a TARDIS; he owns no retrospectoscope; he’s on duty because of armed bank robberies; and this guy just performed an action which is just like you’d expect a bank robber with a machine gun to do.

    You have no extra time to decide. You’re in “combat time”, where the measure of each action is less than a second.

    The answer is simple, clearcut, and inescapable. You shoot the guy in the long coat, because *at the moment of decision*, he looked as if he was about to commit a lethal attack.

    “Waiting to see the gun” means that IF the guy is armed, you will most probably die; because once you’ve decided to wait, you then have to identify the gun, re-decide to shoot, and shoot. The other guy is already shooting. You are two measures slow, and that means you lose. That also means other innocents in the bank lose.

    That’s why you shoot, in a situation like that.

    Now, some of you will protest that the situations aren’t the same, because the guy didn’t do anything threatening.

    That might have been true 6 weeks ago. But right here, right now, a guy who’s been told to halt, who breaks and runs, is already suspicious. Given two sets of bomb runs on subways, if he jumps a turnstile to get into the Tube, he’s just committed a lethal action — to wit, he looks like he’s trying to deliver the bomb to the underground station, where he can not only kill people, but cause the station to be shut down entirely for a time.

    Further, some of you will object to the “summary execution” of shooting the suspect in the head. Well, how else do you stop a man whom you believe is armed with a body-bomb? Shots to the center-of-mass won’t turn the man off instantly, and might set off the bomb. You MUST turn off the man instantly, because if he has an active trigger, it takes him a thumbflick, or the twist of a wrist, to set the bomb off. That means headshots.

    “But geez, they were holding the guy down; they didn’t have to shoot him.” My answer: deadman switches. IF you think the suspect’s bomb-belt is deadman switched, you *must* make sure he can’t OPEN his hand and release the switch — something rather like letting the spoon go, on a grenade, after you’ve pulled the pin. That mean piling onto the suspect, grabbing and immobilizing his hand, and letting your mate take the headshots.

    Hmmm. Does that sound familiar to you?

    It should. That’s how the guy was taken down; officers took him to the ground, held him there, and took the shot. I will bet you a pint that the police in the scrum were trying to pinion the hands in order to stop the possible release of a deadman switch.

    The police officers who executed the takedown made the right decision, at the moment OF decision, with the facts they’d been given. I think it’s absolutely appropriate to look at the flow of intel leading to that moment, to better understand how this fellow became a “subject of interest” to surveillance teams; a man was shot, and he wasn’t a bomber. That isn’t good.

    Nonetheless, Perry is spot on. It is sad that this man died for a lapse of judgment; but the current nature of the threat means that the shoot-to-kill policy is the correct one. It would be correct even if the shooters were citizens, armed in accordance with the most punctilious of big-L Libertarian political philosophy.

    Let me be blunt. Even if London were governed by a set of laws written by L. Neil Smith, and the shooters were either individual citizens or private proctors hired by the London Transit Company, LLC, this would have been a “tragedy of execution”, NOT a failure of sound policy.

    When bombers are planting explosives in underground stations, hopping a turnstile when told to halt is tantamount to reaching into your coat when told to halt — it is an action that suggests you are about to initiate lethal force. Those around you will take your behavior in that fashion, and decline to be subjected to that lethal force. If they are armed in their turn, they will stop you before you can “do unto them”.

    I am.. not delighted, but reassured… that the Metropolitan Police understand this, and are still prepared to act accordingly.

    Oh, a final note? My son’s on holiday in London. Went there several days ago, AFTER 7/7. He’s having a lovely time, despite the most recent events; he refuses to let the terror-mongers win. I wish you all similar good fortune.

  • Whatever the reason, if the facts are as I have read and heard, that he was on the floor, and being restrained when he was shot, then this was no less than a murder, and yes, he should be held to account.

    Unless they had his hands restrained, he was not meaningfully retrained in this context. The graphics I have seen in the newspapers (not the most reliable basis, I do understand, but all I have to work with right now) show him being shot moments after he fell to the ground with cops either on or next to him but certainly not in complete control of his movements, so if they thought he was a suicide bomber, I still think they did the right thing.

    That contains a hell of a lot of suppositions of course…

    I really can’t believe so many so called Libertarians are defending the police and the state in this instance.

    I am no anarchist and thus see the role of the state as legitimately encompassing EXACTLY this sort of thing. The notion that “I am a libertarian therefore I will damn the state regardless” is why I find defining myself by some -ism’ so very unhelpful. I often say “the state is not your friend” and I do so when the state does things (most things, in fact) which actually make situations worse. Trying to defend London against Al Qaeda is not one of those things, however. That does not mean the state gets a free ride and if the FACTS show gross errors of judgement (rather than strongly mitigated errors), then people must indeed be held accountable. However I actually have no problem with the principle of what was done and I am pretty sure most British people agree with me.

    The man’s crime for having his life taken away was running from the police, police who were not clearly marked out by uniform for they were in plain clothes.

    Sorry but under the circumstances, running away is a bit of MAJOR mitigation for the cops in question, regardless of why he did it. We are not talking about a suspected shoplifter doing a toesy here. It does not mean I think there should not be an investigation (why on earth did they let him get on a bus? This really needs to be explained) or that the guy should be simply dismissed as a fool who deserved to die… no, not at all. But in the context of the time, I am more than willing to cut the cops far more slack than I normally would.

  • ThePresentOccupier

    (If I could find the flipping text for the card online, I’d post a link…)

    The yellow card (rules of engagment), whilst at times “inconvenient”, is not and never was carte blanche – which appears to be the Met’s unrepentful stance.

  • Remember, London was hit with suicide bombs only a few weeks ago.

    You’re a cop. You have someone under high suspicion of being a suicide bomber on the ground in front of you. This guy exhibited every indication of being a suicide bomber. He was dressed the part (the bulky jacket in July), and he acted the part.

    There are literally dozens of people he could kill, including your precious self, if he detonates himself. The only way to prevent him from doing so is to put bullet(s) in his head. If he makes a suspicious move, you have less than a second to make a decision that may save your life and dozens of others.

    He makes a suspicious move.

    That is pretty much the situation in London (I assume that the deceased did something that led the police to pull their triggers). I say there is no way anyone involved in the shooting should be disciplined, unless we learn something truly shocking or extraordinary.

  • ernest young

    Compare to the situation of the soldier in a war zone, (Iraq), who shot dead a wounded Iraqi some months ago, when he thought the wounded prisoner was reaching for a rifle to shoot at him. He faces a court martial, and is accused of war crimes.

    Surely he had more reason to kill than the police on the Tube, yet he faces a possible life sentence for doing the right thing in a far more precarious situation than that on the Tube.

    However you look at it, the Tube could not be considered a free fire war zone.

    I still think that former was justified, and the latter was – at best – manslaughter.

  • ernest young

    However I actually have no problem with the principle of what was done and I am pretty sure most British people agree with me.

    I absolutely agree with your statement, but, (here it comes), I do not have the same confidence as your goodself, in the leadership of our anti-terrorist squad, nor the training that they receive, either tactically, politically or diplomatically. Winning hearts and minds – way to go guys!

    That they had no hint that such an attack was imminent, would tend to bear out my suspicion that they are somewhat less than their publicity would suggest. – But then I am just an old cynic…

  • Wild Pegasus

    Once more, the faithful of Samizdata come out in favour of government killing. All of the talk on this website about scepticism of government power goes right out the window when the badge-jockeys start killing. Then the state can do no wrong. Doubly so if someone has said the magic words “terrorism”, “national security”, or “immigrants”.

    All of you deserve your Blair, your ID cards, and your constant government surveillance. Enjoy your new despotism; you’ve earned it. Jackasses.

    - Josh

  • rosignol

    He wasn’t coming out of a house that was under surveillance but a block of flats. Just what intelligence failure led to the police following him?

    Um, it may not have been an intelligence failure.

    If you were interested in setting off a few bombs, an electrician would be a very useful person to know.

    If they knew the guy was an electrician, and that he was spending time visiting a block that was under surveillance, well, It’s quite reasonable for the police to decide he was someone who should be talked to. When he starts running, well, it’s also fairly reasonable for the police to conclude that he’s running for a reason. As the reason the block was under surveillance was presumably related to suicide bombing in the subway, one would expect police to come to certain conclusions when the suspect runs into a subway…

    What happened was one of those tragedies that happens in war. The correct reaction is to try to figure out what went wrong and revise the procedures to make them better.

  • Oh come on, Josh. It’s not as if the guy who was killed got beaten to death by George W Bush brandishing a hard copy of the Patriot Act, now, is it? The police deserve our support at this time. From where I’m standing, this was a tragic mistake, however there is absolutely no evidence that this was a killing to extend the state’s power, and lots that it was a mixup. This, however, must be seen as an action that was taken to protect the public. The decision to shoot was made by the guys on the ground, who thought they were saving lives by incapacitating this guy who, by most accounts, walked and quacked like a terrorist. They were wrong. It’s absolutely, absolutely terrible. However, I hope they don’t err on the side of caution when confronted with a real bomber.

  • I mean hardback copy, not hard copy.

  • DavidBruno

    We are now in a very curious place where the Met elite cannot bring themselves to say the two words ‘Islamic terrorist’ in public for reasons related to political correctness and ‘community relations’ yet the Met police shoot and kill an innocent person wholly unconnected with the terrorist attacks whom they presume to be an ‘Islamic terrorist’. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people whom they know have been inciting violence roaming around Britain as apparently freely as the now invisible failed bombers. Something dsyfunctional is clearly at the core of our intelligence and police service when nearly all effective activity is after the event rather than preventative. Both services should be learning quickly from the French, who have been ruthess at dealing with their domestic terrorist threat by combining excellent intelligence (they have infiltrated every mosque in France as well as all the other places where they know the terrorist cells form, recruit and plan) and very tough laws to crack down on the recruiters and inciters to jihad. They have deported loads of dangerous moonbat imaams and are well-connected with several other countries that are doing the same. Britain appears to be out of the loop.

    The problems we are facing now have built up slowly over years and the tough action that Tony Blair has taken in Iraq (although I don’t think we should ever have gone there) has not extended to tough action to control the terrorist threat from within. Except post facto and (cynical this) in response to the growing anger that the public feels about our weakness in confronting these issues.

    It’s never too late to learn and to improve – and, if this is not the time to do so, I don’t know when is.

    Finally, I saw an interview not long ago with a French terrorist who spent some time recruiting for the jihad in Britain. he said that one of the reasons he left France and moved to Britain was the difficulty he encountered in accomplishing his evil tasks in France because of constant harrassment by the police who were always asking for his identity papers. Britain was by contrast, he said, a piece of cake: no one ever asked him to show any evidence of who he was – he had complete and unfettered mobility to go about his business.

    A little less kneejerk reaction re ID cards and a little more thinking about some of the possible security benefits might be apposite. Personally I would rank the ID card issue a long way down my list of concerns at the moment: particuarly if carrying one might even make even a small (and potentially life-saving) difference in the combat of terrorism.

  • David Bruno: Even the Home Secretary has admitted that ID cards would not stop anyone blowing themselves up. There simply are no benefits other than to the welfare statists. So yes, a little more thought on the subject is indeed required but not by me.

    In no way does it require ID cards to harass the hell out of jihadis in Britain. All it takes is to constantly haul them in for questioning, i.e. the way British police have always harrassed people when they are minded to.

  • DavidBruno

    Perry,

    Don’t get me wrong: I have not swung from being hostile to ID cards to wholly supporting their introduction. I have just shifted slightly away from hostility to a more open attitude in light of the terrorist’s own comments. I agree that hitherto the government has wanted to introduce them for all the wrong reasons. I was merely speculating that there may be at least one good reason for introducing them and was wondering out aloud whether the government (which is inevitably in the throes of re-considering a whole raft of its assumptions and practices in light of the current situation) might shift its own thinking and modify its proposals.

    I am sure that this reasoning will not change your own opinion and indeed you make the most important point that the police could (and should) be doing a lot more -that it is already within their powers – to crack down on the Islamist extremists in our midst.

  • Argosy

    J:

    The more we let this ‘we are at war, expect collateral damage to happen’ attitude take hold, the more people will be killed.

    Being at war is not an ‘attitude’, it is a god damn fact. There is always collateral damage in a war. For gods sake grow up, will you?

  • John K

    DavidBruno,

    If we had ID cards in the UK, do you think for one second the police would dare to stop Asian youths in the street and ask for ID? They’d have to fill in a seven page questionnaire each time. Do you think any officer who stopped too many Asians would not be spoken to by a senior officer and asked why he was demonstrating institutional racism? The ID card system is a symptom of the control state, but the people who the state wants to control are us, not a couple of thousand terrorists who probably have clean ID in any case. Get real. I can think of some uses for the odd £19 billion which might improve national security. ID cards do not figure.

  • SP

    De Doc, I find it impossible to believe that police would be able to prevent a suicide bomber from detonating his bomb in the way you describe.

    Lets imagine this wasn’t Jean Charles chased and shot, but actually WAS such a bomber. Put yourself in their shoes. At ANY point after they realise they have been challenged all they have to do it press a switch, even better, they may have gone one step further and would just have to release a switch (deadman switch as you called it). In this situation, given the time involved from being challenged, to jumping the barriers, to sprinting to the train, to falling/being pushed onto the train, its almost impossible that anyone could prevent the bomber from detonating his bomb should he have chosen to do so.

    Even in the scenario where the bomber hadn’t set things up correctly, you can be damn sure the next one will, following the first one’s failure.

    Perhaps we may have to accept the horrible truth that in some cases there is very little we can actually do to defend ourselves against such people, and the litte we can do might do more harm than good.

  • Andrew Milner

    Looks like we have to wear a three-piece suit and say things like, “After you my dear chap” to avoid being wasted by the London cops. Problem is you become a target for the muggers. See if you can disagree with this:
    The shooting of the Brazilian electrician was an international, 22ct, major league, public relations disaster. No way was this was in the script. When the police accidently shoot an innocent member of the public, they, together with their tame media whores immediately set about blackening the victim’s name, thus to mitigate their culpability. Presupposing we are accepting authority’s version of the bombings, the only party that benefits from this self-inflicted shot to the foot is the terrorist bombers. If the battle is for hearts and minds, this was an undeserved lucky break. An own goal which Ian Blair’s insensitiveness compounded. But hey, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Where do we go from here? You go where you like, I’m already in a nice, neutral Buddhist country, which is why I can rattle the bars of British authority’s cage with relative impunity. Extradited for blogging, now that would be a first. But for those of you still in Police State UK, dusting off your exit strategy may be worth considering.

  • So Andrew, your policy would what exactly? Do nothing if you see a suspected suicide bomber because it might be worse than doing… something? Or do you actually have some sort of practicle alternative?

    Perhaps in that sort of situation the cops should just adopt the lotus position and say “Om”. Yes, I am sure that will help.

  • John K

    a suspected suicide bomber

    Trouble is, he wasn’t a suspected suicide bomber. He was a man who came out of the same block of flats that the bombers may have been using. The police had no intelligence on him, they did not know who he was, and they really had no reason to suspect him of anything at all. They were right to follow him, but something went badly wrong when they challenged him, and that’s what we need to find out.

    By the way, I am not much impressed with police markmanship here. The point about shooting a suspected bomber in the head is that it is meant to be done from a distance, not when you are sitting on his chest. If you are prepared to grapple with the “suicide bomber”, how real is your belief that he truly is a suicide bomber? I get the feeling that the police were really pumped up on that Friday morning, panicky and nervous, and neither the surveillance detail nor the armed officers did their jobs properly. But I have a feeling they may get a bit more consideration than Tony Martin, who at least had the decency to shoot the right people.

  • Chris Beesley

    While the incident was tragic for Jean Charles de Menezes and his family I think a special thought should be given to the police officers who shot him. I personally would be beside myself if I had shot dead an innocent man and it may take years for the officers to come to terms with what they had to do.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the policy of shoot to kill because there is no other effective method of preventing a suicide bomber from setting off their explosives. In situations like this armed officers have to be able to fully immobilise the suspect so that the suspect cannot be given even the slightest chance of setting off his explosives. Officers cannot shoot the chest or torso area due to the unstable nature of the explosives that the bombers are carrying, any hit from a bullet could well bring on the explosion that the officers are seeking to prevent. Shooting the legs or arms of the suspect would be ineffective in preventing a terrorist setting off a bomb in a last moment of defiance.

    My point is that we need to spare the police a thought who are working under very difficult circumstances in a totally new type of threat to the society that they are sworn to protect. To those who question the validity of armed police shooting a man who has ran from them when challenged should think of this, what would you be writing on this blog if Jean Charles de Menezes had been a suicide bomber and had not been shot when he ran away from the police and had managed to detonate a device on the tube. I suggest all the do-gooders out there seriously think about that.

  • Jorge

    After reading all of the various postings I am struck by the fact that the majority of you seem to have lost your basic humanity. This was a human being….going about his daily routine. Regardless of his taste in clothing, fluency of English, ethnic identity, or the flat in which he lives, he was shot 8 times. Seven of those in the head. If he really was a terrorist about to bomb the tube, don’t you think that two or three shots to the head would suffice?

    To blame the victim and imply that he should have known better than to act suspicious is incomprehesible. Who deems what is suspicious? How was he to know the building he lives in was under survelliance? Not only should he have not acted suspicious, but he should have been omniscient as well?

    Perhaps investigating the conduct of your police force might be a better use of time. What happened to police intelligence? If this young man was suspicious, why wasn’t he stopped whilst on the street and taken in for questioning? Why was he allowded to ride a bus? Why were the police not in uniform?

    Ask yourself this, would you feel the same if the situation was reversed, if this was a British citizen shot dead in Brazil in a case of being a mistaken terrorist? Would this collateral damage be acceptable to you then? What if it was your brother, your father or your friend?

    You should not be proclaiming that you know what this young man was thinking or anything about his life. You are an outsider making asumptions on a life that you will never have to live. You are probably not an ethnic young man, from a foreign country nor will you ever be. Hence you feel perfectly safe in your “shoot to kill” policy.

  • Andrew Milner

    I have no policy per se on the most appropriate handling of a suicide bomber suspect. As for solution, it’s every man for himself; abandon the sinking ship before the rush. No country is perfect, but trust me you don’t feel so badly about miscarriage of justice, infringement of civil liberties, police brutality issues when it’s not your country. The unlawful killing of Mr. de Menezes is a symptom of a far larger tragedy. For me, loyalty to the UK and patriotism are outdated notions. Britain has betrayed me rather than the other way round. At the end of 2003 when I returned to Japan (previous visit was 1973-93), my assessment of UK was a clinically depressed, dysfunctional society in terminal decline. It has degraded further since. Football has replaced patriotism and the pub, family life. Violence has become a prefered method of communication. It is decending into tribalism. Discussion and debate has simply become too dangerous with fragile ego people, who have never learn to defend their views in an intellectual forum. As a generalization, Britian is a non-inclusive, fragmented culture, where people do not socially interact. Asian (particularly Parkistanis) are under threat from right wing white thugs, and there’s no point looking to the police for protection. In fact for an ethnic minority person in a run-down inner city, a run in with the police can leave you terminally dead. The majority of victims of deaths in police custody are those from an ethnic minority. And for the last 35 years, no cop has been convicted of manslaughter. Asians came to raciest Britain seeking a better life, poor misguided souls. Presumably Britain was the least worst option available. Britain’s social problems are insurmountable, so emigration has to be on the agenda. I appreciate for the retired but still poor this is not an option, but for everyone else, start working on your exit strategy. Britain’s like a poor investment; it went down after you bought in and you hang on hoping it will come back. Eventually you’ll have to bite the bullet and take the hit, because time is not on your side. If you are reasonably young, white and educated with an RP accent, you could do worse than check out “English teacher, Shanghai” as an initial step to seeking your fortune in the colonies.
    I realise my writing style suits the Daily Mirror, which explains why they invariably print the second-rate rubbish I send them.
    Don’t you miss a spell check on this site. Now surely that’s something we can agree on.

  • rosignol

    After reading all of the various postings I am struck by the fact that the majority of you seem to have lost your basic humanity. This was a human being….going about his daily routine.

    His daily routine involved running from the police and jumping subway turnstiles?

    Regardless of his taste in clothing, fluency of English, ethnic identity, or the flat in which he lives, he was shot 8 times. Seven of those in the head. If he really was a terrorist about to bomb the tube, don’t you think that two or three shots to the head would suffice?

    Dunno. There are quite a few reports from Iraq that describe how hostiles who have been shot with a 9mm have a distressing tendency to get back up afterwards. That aside, as a general rule, if someone is worth shooting, they’re probably worth shooting twice.

  • Verity

    Andrew Milner – I found your post very interesting, and it touched a nerve. When I returned to Britain, after years living and working overseas, I was shocked at the brutality, rudeness and anger that seemed to permeate the place. The people were furious, simmering away just under the surface. Manners, which used to be so pleasant and unassuming, had gone. There was a huge underclass that knew its rights – which apparently included being supported in not inconsiderable comfort by people who got up to go to work in the morning. The police were lazy, rude and unresponsive.

    I discussed this with a colleague, and she said she had two other friends who had returned from living abroad at about the same time as me, and they had already put their house on the market and were moving back to the previous country. Shortly afterwards, I made my exit to France. What had previously been a warm, courteous country had been brutalised in a way that absolutely shocked me. Civility had all but disappeared. The colleague said she hadn’t really noticed it herself, but then she’d been there all the time and hadn’t noticed the tiny increments creeping forward; but even she said she thought England was a fairly unpleasant country.

  • JC

    Oh, you propose to surrender?
    Sorry. Not interested.

    Surrender to whom? If you mean terrorists then taking armed forces out of a nation you invaded is not surrendering to them.

    I am no anarchist and thus see the role of the state as legitimately encompassing EXACTLY this sort of thing.
    [...]
    Sorry but under the circumstances, running away is a bit of MAJOR mitigation for the cops in question, regardless of why he did it.
    [...]
    But in the context of the time, I am more than willing to cut the cops far more slack than I normally would.

    This kind of thing, murder of an innocent man? I don’t think any Libertarian should react like the state is never correct but this incident must clearly be one where they are very much in the wrong. Maybe its slightly too general to blame the state but certainly the police officers involved were wrong. I have no qualms with the principle of shooting to kill those who are definitely suicide bombers but this man wasn’t one. If you are going to do it you must be extremely sure and I don’t like passing off an innocent man’s death as a likely mistake. Sure he could have been a suicide bomber and the shots fired could have been the difference between a bomb going off or not but killing on mere suspicion is a very dangerous policy. For you and I its not as big a problem as we aren’t the right colour to be under suspicion but many others are. I understand that running away(for whatever reason) did made him look guilty but it was a police mistake which lead them to him. It was not Jean Charles de Menezes’s fault in any way and I dislike the way you said that people should be expected to be shot in the head after being stopped first by the police. Running away from police in itself is not an offence worthy of death regardless of the context of time. You don’t save innocent lives by taking an innocent life. Cutting cops some slack is all well and good if they make a simple error but this error cost a man his life and a family a son, brother ect. How would you react if Jean Charles de Menezes was someone close to you? I doubt you’d see his death as something understandable in the “context of the time”.

    Being at war is not an ‘attitude’, it is a god damn fact. There is always collateral damage in a war. For gods sake grow up, will you?

    Collateral damage is damage to people’s property and the taking of innocent lives. Why don’t you grow up and stop pretending that its necessary. If such things are inevitable in war then maybe there is something wrong with war?

  • T. J. Madison

    One solution to this whole problem might be technological — improved ranged stun weaponry. This would allow “shoot first and ask questions later” to be more or less ok.

  • Verity

    In any country in the world, if you fail to stop when the police (having identified themselves, which these officers did) shout at you to stop, you are going to accept the consequences of your behaviour because you will have no choice.

    If you not only fail to stop, but choose to break into a run and jump over a turnstile, the police are going to react negatively.

    If you choose to flee towards a terrorist target, you will probably not survive that mad impulse.

    It is a terrible tragedy that this man died, but he died, in effect, by his own hand.

  • JC

    In any country in the world, if you fail to stop when the police (having identified themselves, which these officers did) shout at you to stop, you are going to accept the consequences of your behaviour because you will have no choice.

    If you not only fail to stop, but choose to break into a run and jump over a turnstile, the police are going to react negatively.

    If you choose to flee towards a terrorist target, you will probably not survive that mad impulse.

    It is a terrible tragedy that this man died, but he died, in effect, by his own hand.

    It doesn’t mean the consequences are just or morally right. Yes react negatively, 7 bullets to the head and one to the shoulder for good measure. He did not die by his own hand. Thats like saying that if someone points a gun at your head tomorrow Verity while you are on the street and gives you two choices, your money or your life. You being a valiant and rather ballsy women choose life. You died by your hand? Ever heard of coercion Verity?

  • Verity

    JC – your argument is emotional, unrealistic and adolescent or far leftist – and I don’t mean this in a perjorative sense. But I think the reasoning is poor.

    These police had been working since a fortnight before, when 750 innocent people were killed, horribly maimed for life and otherwise injured from the activities of suicide bombers, on keeping London’s transport system safe from experiencing further horrors. The life of the capital – which is the second largest financial capital in the world and the second-largest oil market in the world, must go forward.

    It is not now the responsibility of the police to take a meeting every time someone – especially a dark-skinned someone – yup, that’s the reality; no white suicide bombers so far – does something outrageous like refusing to stop in a tube station, on the same day of copycat (thankfully failed) suicide bombers tried to blow up three more tubes and a bus. The police are there to protect society at large, not suicidal young men who take tragic decisions.

    That is life. Having been in the position (almost, but controlled, albeit frightening enough) myself, as has Perry in much more serious circumstances, I assure you, most people’s instinct is to accept the authority of law enforcement and hope to live another day.

    We do not know why this fluent English speaker was motivated to do otherwise, and his death is a tragedy for his family, but the last thing I want is a dithering policeman at this time. Someone who decides to run across a freeway will probably die. It’s their choice.

  • I have no qualms with the principle of shooting to kill those who are definitely suicide bombers but this man wasn’t one.

    And there you have the very simple and very obvious answer why your entire thesis does not survive contact with reality. The only way you can be sure they are DEFINITELY suicide bomber is when they blow themselves and everyone around them to bits.

    Collateral damage is damage to people’s property and the taking of innocent lives. Why don’t you grow up and stop pretending that its necessary. If such things are inevitable in war then maybe there is something wrong with war?

    You are one who needs to grow up. I have actually seen honest to goodness war up close and not just via CNN and I understand the brutal truth that even in the most moral war, innocent people will die as a consequence of legitimate force.

    Yet to say therefore war is not ever approproate is nothing less than delusional unless you are a pacifist, which apparently you are not. Then, if you will not fire at a person because they use human shields or because he locates his strategic assets in a city, you will quite simply lose to the more ruthless enemy. The moral consequences of that approach, if taken at various points in history, should be obvious but I cannot be bothered to spell it out for you unless you give me some indication you are not just irrationally dogmatic. It sounds to me like your moral theories need a little work.

  • Verity

    JC Saying war is “never appropriate” means you would have been quite content to live under the fascist Soviet Union. It was only the threat of overwhelming war with victory on the side of the West that has ensured your comfy existence.

    You say this man wasn’t a suicide bomber. Proof? He acted like a fugitive (despite speaking fluent English, so please let us dump this meme that he was a poor illiterate jerk from the slums of Sao Paolo who staggered around saying “Duh?”). I want to know why you state that he was not a suicide bomber. On that particular day, true. But he may have been – indeed, behaved as though he was – a decoy).

    As I keep saying, if he was innocent, I am sorry that he died a needless death occasioned by his own decisions. The decision to flee was his own (as he spoke fluent English and was in Britain legally).

  • Daveon

    So Verity, I am curious about the revelation yesterday that firstly he was wearing a denim jacket and not a “large padded one”, that he entered the tube using his travel card and did not “jump over the barrier”.

    I’m also kind of curious now about why, if he was a risk, was he allowed on a bus first before he got to Stockwell tube.

    This was a tragedy, and the police SO to shoot potential suicide bombers is correct – however, distortion of the data and evidence is not acceptable and if there was a mistake, the process leading up to that needs to be reviewed.

    It certainly doesn’t help that the Birmingham arrest was managed in what seem to have been more dangerous circumstances with a Taser.

  • Verity

    So Verity, I am curious about the revelation yesterday that firstly he was wearing a denim jacket and not a “large padded one”, that he entered the tube using his travel card and did not “jump over the barrier”.

    I’m also kind of curious now about why, if he was a risk, was he allowed on a bus first before he got to Stockwell tube.

    Well, I am glad you posed these questions to me, Daveon, as I am secretly the prime minister of Great Britain and am privy to all the circumstances.

    I haven’t a clue. But a word of advice: if you are ever ordered to “stop!” by armed police, stand very still and put your hands in the air. This way, you may live to see another day. The man who had been arrested the day before near Downing St did not foolishly raise the stakes. He did everything the armed police told him to do, and he did it quickly, demonstrating that he was not fleeing and posed no immediate threat. He is alive today.

    The point I and others have made consistently on this topic is, this is split second decision time — your pursuers are making split second decisions, and so are you. The people with firearms have an overwhelming advantage.

  • John K

    More facts are coming to light it seems. Sir Ian Bliar has said that the police never claimed Mr Menezes was wearing a padded coat, or leapt the ticket barrier. If not, I wonder how the press got hold of these stories?

    We just don’t know how the police challenged him. That’s the key, we don’t know. Did they show warrant cards, or did they just put on their kitschy little Met Police baseball caps? It would be good to know, because somehow, the way they approached him scared him so much he ran for his life. The eye witness on the train said he looked terrified.

    This will be a big test for the new Independent Police Complaints Commission. If they are party to any sort of cover up they may as well close down now. We’ll see.

  • Verity

    John K – while not denying the legitimacy of your comments and questions, I take issue with you with you write: somehow, the way they approached him scared him so much he ran for his life.

    It is entirely within the bounds of the possible that he ran for his life when challenged by the police because he was guilty of something.

  • John K

    Fair point, the thing is we don’t know, and will have to hope there is a proper investigation by the IPCC.

    I still feel that the initial error lay in identifying him as a suspect on the basis of nothing more than the fact he lived in the same block of flats as the terrorists. I’d like to know if the armed officers knew just how tenuous was the level of suspicion in this case. As Dirty Harry once sagely remarked, “there’s nothing much wrong with shooting, so long as the right people get shot.”

  • JC

    JC – your argument is emotional, unrealistic and adolescent or far leftist – and I don’t mean this in a perjorative sense. But I think the reasoning is poor.
    [...]
    We do not know why this fluent English speaker was motivated to do otherwise, and his death is a tragedy for his family, but the last thing I want is a dithering policeman at this time. Someone who decides to run across a freeway will probably die. It’s their choice.

    This situation is not analogous to running across a freeway. You are clearly unaware of what coercion is and isn’t. Your talk makes every death a death which was brought on by the person being killed. You don’t however claim that the 56(i think thats the number) brought on their own deaths and rightly so. By your logic they probably did for they knew there were suicide bombers in this world so they should clearly not have went out in public. They brought their deaths on themselves? Or would that just be plain stupid? Jean Charles de Menezes was a member of the society at large and he did not commit suicide.
    Yes that would be the wise decision to accept the authority. To why Jean Charles de Menezes ran is anyones guess but its irrelevant to the issue. For the police murdered an innocent man irrespective of the rationality of his choices or does irrational choices make you deserving of death? I don’t want dithering policemen at this time either, I want competent aware policemen who don’t make tragic mistakes which result in the death of an innocent man.
    Oh and lastly, attaching a label to me does not falsify anything I say even if the label was correct. I’m a libertarian who believes in ordered anarchy. Call me a leftist or a rightist. I couldn’t care less. I’m glad it wasn’t meant in a “perjorative sense” for it was clearly meant in a pejorative one.

    And there you have the very simple and very obvious answer why your entire thesis does not survive contact with reality. The only way you can be sure they are DEFINITELY suicide bomber is when they blow themselves and everyone around them to bits.

    What about if you actually know they have a bomb on them? What about if you know they are at least a known terrorist to begin with? If you want to talk about reality then you will realise that ultimately you cannot usually prevent crimes before they actually happen for the issue of justice is an issue of restitution and possibly retribution and punishment for a crime already committed. Of course you try and stop a man with whatever means necessary who is just about to set off a bomb killing many innocent people but a crime has already been committed then, it is attempted mass murder. Having the right skin colour, being falsely taken as a terrorist and running from police doesn’t make you a wannabe suicide bomber.
    I don’t think war is never necessary. Just as I take people’s liberty to defend themselves and their property individually against an attacker I take the same analysis towards a plurality of persons. The war in Iraq is not a case of self defence though. It was and is aggression. That doesn’t mean I think Saddam Hussein and his evil ways were preferable to Blair or Bush’s ways but I don’t think the choice needs to be made. Collateral damage can only really be commited by an aggressor and its moral cowardice to pass it off as just “collateral damage” without revealing its true existance as damage to innocent people’s property and lives. As far as i’m concerned Libertarianism does not usually stand in a position to justify killing innocents regardless if you want to aggregate utilities and decide that they can be so sacrificed for some greater good.

    JC Saying war is “never appropriate” means you would have been quite content to live under the fascist Soviet Union.
    [...]
    As I keep saying, if he was innocent, I am sorry that he died a needless death occasioned by his own decisions. The decision to flee was his own (as he spoke fluent English and was in Britain legally).

    First of all Verity the usage of quotation marks are there to indicate what someone has actually said. I never said that so you are attacking a straw man with that first bit.
    I have never maintained he was a poor illiterate from the slums of Sao Paulo and consider both his character and his personal history as totally irrelevant to this situation. Maybe one day he could have been a suicide bomber, maybe one day you will be a suicide bomber? or I? So lets kill everyone in existance just in case they become a suicide bomber in the future? Are you seriously wanting me to take you seriously?
    He did not choose to die, choosing to flee is not the same as choosing to die.

  • JC

    I still feel that the initial error lay in identifying him as a suspect on the basis of nothing more than the fact he lived in the same block of flats as the terrorists

    Yes thats exactly it. Everything lead from that initial error.

  • The huge blockquotes are inappropriate. Only quote small bits of specific germane text, not enormous great passages please!

    I am editing some of them back to more appropriate sizes.

  • But a word of advice: if you are ever ordered to “stop!” by armed police, stand very still and put your hands in the air. This way, you may live to see another day. The man who had been arrested the day before near Downing St did not foolishly raise the stakes. He did everything the armed police told him to do, and he did it quickly, demonstrating that he was not fleeing and posed no immediate threat. He is alive today.

    Do you hold that we have a positive duty to obey the commands of law enforcement officers in all cases, in a few select instances, or that we do not have such an obligation?

  • Do you hold that we have a positive duty to obey the commands of law enforcement officers in all cases, in a few select instances, or that we do not have such an obligation?

    I think we have a duty to ourselves not to act stupidly and to reap the consequences when we do. What could be more ‘libertarian’ than that?

    If a cop demands you do something that seems unreasonable, I would say that under most circumstances you should challenge their right to do that and feel no great urge to be cooperative or polite.

    If however, you are in a city currently under a clear and present (rather than just theoretical) threat of suicide bombings, and a cop orders you to halt and be arrested, particularly if that cop is waving a rifle around and looks highly agitated, well, lets just say that if because YOU know you are not a suicide bomber and therefore decide this cops behaviour is absurd and as a result you elect to leg it (or say, start fumbling around with something inside your jacket) and as as a consequence get shot dead… I would say you have clearly failed to understand the importance of CONTEXT when dealing with the real world.

    To give you another example: I fully believe there is nothing wrong with walking around naked if you wish (personally I don’t wish to and am quite content that most people share my opinion on that and don’t either). However, if a naked man wanders into a playground full of young children (and he is not in a nudist colony) and as a result gets the shit kicked out of him by some agitated parents, might I suggest the problem does not reside with the agitated parents. Context really does matter.

    If a belief system and supoporting moral theories cannot cope with that fairly obvious truth regarding the nature of reality, might I suggest a rethink might be in order.

  • fFreddy

    Do you hold that we have a positive duty to obey the commands of law enforcement officers in all cases, in a few select instances, or that we do not have such an obligation?

    Your only positive duty is to take responsibility for your own actions. That includes the dumb ones.

  • Andrew Milner

    All you guys that say something to the effect: “He lived in England for three years so he should have spoken good English.” Rubbish. You try living and working in non-English speaking country and see how good you are in the language of your host country. Of course knowing your life depended on your language skills would provide significant motivation. Try living in Japan for three years and see how fluent you are. If it came to the crunch I dare say you’d wind up as dead as Mr. de Menezes. Besides, listening comprehension was the skill he needed.
    Reminds me of the Japanese student shot dead in the United States because he didn’t understand the significance of the command “Freeze”. Bad case of cultural imperialism.

  • Perry,

    Do you think you might want to revisit your assessment of Jean Charles De Menezes in light of what’s coming out now?

    http://tinyurl.com/bmu3g

    The crucial mistake that ultimately led to his death was made at 9.30am when Jean Charles left his flat in Scotia Road, South London.

    Surveillance officers wrongly believed he could have been Hussain Osman, one of the prime suspects, or another terrorist suspect.

    By 10am that morning, elite firearms officers were provided with what they describe as “positive identification” and shot De Menezes eight times in the head and upper body.

    The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed.

    He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.

    He started running when we saw a tube at the platform. Police had agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran.

    A document describes CCTV footage, which shows Mr de Menezes entered Stockwell station at a “normal walking pace” and descended slowly on an escalator.

    The document said: “At some point near the bottom he is seen to run across the concourse and enter the carriage before sitting in an available seat.

    “Almost simultaneously armed officers were provided with positive identification.”

    A member of the surveillance team is quoted in the report. He said: “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 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.”

    The report also said a post mortem examination showed Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, but three other bullets missed, with the casings left lying in the tube carriage.

    Police have declined to comment while the mistaken killing is still being investigated.

    I think you ought to consider the possibility that De Menezes didn’t do a blessed thing you might not have done in the same circumstances.

  • Verity,

    Even if I were an athletic young man, I wouldn’t jump over a turnstile, run down a flight of stairs and try to board a train. This was, if I may use a trite term, suicidal behaviour.

    And apparently fictional.

  • Do you think you might want to revisit your assessment of Jean Charles De Menezes in light of what’s coming out now?

    I have said right from the first article I wrote on the subject that although I approve in principle of summarily shooting dead someone reasonably suspected of being a suicide bomber (and I still hold to that idea), that does not mean the cops get a free pass to shoot anyone unless they are indeed genuine probable cause.

    If this turns out to be monstrous incompetence (as now seems to be the case) rather than a tragic but strongly mitigated mistake, then heads should indeed roll.

    But none of that requires me to change in my position on the policy itself. If the facts no longer support the claimed reasons for the shooting in this case, then the shooters should be treated differently than if the mitigating factors were true. I have no problem with that.