UK Liberty

Health and Safety 21 – I told them to stop him, not kill him

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on October 19, 2007

The BBC:

The police commander in charge of officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes did not give an order to shoot him, she has told the Old Bailey.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said she told armed officers to “stop” Mr de Menezes, 27, anticipating a “conventional armed challenge”.

This, of course, after testimony from Ralph, the leader of the firearms team about the briefing, earlier this week:

Ralph, the leader of the “black team” of firearms officers, said they were given the impression they were dealing with a “deadly and determined suicidal bomber”, the court heard.

Miss Montgomery said: “The individuals were described to the firearms team as being ‘deadly’ and ‘up for it’. They were also told that explosives could easily be concealed about the body and detonated.”

The court heard the briefing was “wrong in crucial details” because the officers were wrongly told that people had been stopped leaving the flat and eliminated from inquiries. Within minutes of the briefing, the team were told the possible suspect was on a bus towards Stockwell.

But CCTV shows they only began driving there after Mr de Menezes got off the bus, the court heard. During this time, Ralph said he received radio confirmation that Mr de Menezes was definitely “our man”. (The Telegraph)

What were Ralph and his colleagues supposed to do on encountering this deadly threat?

Because it would be suicidal to challenge a suicide bomber, wouldn’t it?

And the point of Operation Kratos is that you don’t challenge a suicide bomber, isn’t it?  [Operation Kratos was not in effect].

(Which, by the way, I have no problem with at all – provided you honestly believe he is a suicide bomber, and if you are told by people you trust that this man is a suicide bomber, surely you are going to believe them).

Back to the BBC:

When asked if she had given “any instruction that he would be shot”, DAC Dick said she had not.

And, when asked if she had given a shoot-to-kill codeword, she also replied that she had not.

Other officers in the control room had also used the word “stop”, she said.

“That is a word in normal use in the police world to mean challenge or detain”, she added.

Which would make sense, unless of course your firearms team was previously told to go out and tackle a “deadly and determined suicidal bomber”, who was “up for it”, someone who was definitely “our man”, who might be hiding easily concealable military-grade explosives about his person. The man from the previous day, in fact – a wannabe suicide bomber.

DAC Dick told the Old Bailey that Mr de Menezes had been the victim of “the most extraordinary and terrible circumstances”.

Indeed, and circumstances that look increasingly like a farce.

“The death of Mr de Menezes is a terrible tragedy and one that I think the whole of the Metropolitan Police regret.”

She added: “We had had the events of July 7 and July 21. He had the misfortune to live in the same block.

“He also looked extraordinarily like that person who lived in the same block.

Note that she wasn’t at the scene. She may have been told this, but see below for conflicting testimony.

“Through his behaviour that day, as I understand it, that behaviour when challenged, he came to be shot.

Hang on – what challenge?

Given this IPCC statement nearer the time:

“The IPCC investigation team understands that Mr de Menezes did not refuse to obey a challenge prior to being shot and was not wearing any clothing that could be classed as suspicious. Whether Mr de Menezes was challenged is disputed and forms part of the Stockwell 1 investigation. However, there is no suggestion that the challenge is one that an innocent man would have understood or that Mr de Menezes was given instructions that he could have chosen to obey.” (the Telegraph)

Back to the BBC:

“It is a terrible tragedy.”

The court heard on Thursday that officers on the ground had described Mr de Menezes as “very jumpy and agitated” and said he had been “on the phone and sending text messages”.

Incredibly suspicious behaviour, wouldn’t you agree?

Also on Thursday, the court heard that DAC Dick had been told five times by officers that Mr de Menezes was Osman.

She said she had been told three times by a surveillance officer on the scene, codenamed Pat, and twice by her “silver” commander that the man officers had been following was Osman.

This conflicts with testimony from surveillance officer Owen earlier this week:

Details of the identification came from a surveillance co-ordinator giving evidence during the health and safety trial against the Metropolitan Police.

The officer, known only as “Owen”, told the court: “There was a point when the senior management group knew that it wasn’t Nettletip (Osman’s codename). I believe that came across on the radio.

“I can’t say what the exact words were but there was a discussion about the situation on the bus and they wanted SO13 anti-terror police to stop the subject and establish intelligence about the residents and flats at Scotia Road.

“If he lived next to the subject he may have been able to tell us things of relevance. It later emerged that they (surveillance) had continued and Cressida Dick asked why the unidentified individual was still being followed if it was not Nettletip.”

Clare Montgomery, QC, prosecuting, asked: “Was he identified as positively not Nettletip?”

Owen replied: “Yes, the direction was for the surveillance teams to stop and for the anti-terror officers to gather the intelligence about the block of flats.

“After three or four minutes Cressida Dick and I were aware that the surveillance team had not pulled back and they were still following the male. Her belief was it definitely wasn’t the suspect.”

Owen said that at no time during the operation was Mr de Menezes, who came to Britain in 2002, “positively identified” as Osman. (Telegraph)

The case continues.

More at the Telegraph.

Update

Cressida Dick said:

“We learn as the world changes and our operations develop but allowing properly trained people to balance the risks and make judgements seems to me to be absolutely fundamental.”

Absolutely right but we have to avoid putting ourselves in positions where it seems essential to kill someone who isn’t in fact a threat.

This happened with Harry Stanley, James Ashley (see the Guardian), and – I suspect – Jean Charles de Menezes.

And if you do end up killing someone, you must not mislead the public, or delay a statutory independent inquiry.

Thinking about it, I still don’t understand why they didn’t shoot Ivor, the surveillance officer with identical clothing and a rucksack.

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