UK Liberty

de Menezes jury delivers open verdict

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on December 12, 2008

Which seems to mean they reject that he was lawfully killed. 

The BBC:

The jury at the inquest into the mistaken shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes has returned an open verdict.

Two officers shot Mr de Menezes seven times as he sat on a train at Stockwell Underground station, south London. They thought he was a suicide bomber.

The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for a week.

A solicitor for the Menezes family said it was the best verdict they could hope for, given that unlawful killing was not on offer.

The jury of 10 were asked 12 specific questions about whether or not a series of events on 22 July 2005 contributed to the 27-year-old’s death.

A majority of the jury said that they did not believe officers had shouted “armed police” before opening fire.

They said said they believed Mr Menezes had stood up from his seat before being shot. However they did not believe he had moved towards the first officer to open fire.

Mr Menezes’ family had earlier withdrawn from the inquest after the coroner told the jury they would not be able to return a verdict of unlawful death at the hands of police.

Sir Michael Wright, the coroner at the three-month-long inquest held at the Oval Cricket Ground in London, said the facts did not justify allowing the jury to consider an unlawful killing. …

And the BBC on the jury’s answers to the coroner’s questionnaire.

The Telegraph:

After a three-month hearing, jurors rejected the idea that the innocent Brazilian had been killed lawfully by police and returned an “open verdict”.

In answering a series of questions set by the coroner they dismissed the accounts of firearms officers who claimed they had shouted a warning before shooting Mr de Menezes.

The 27-year-old electrician was shot dead in July 2005, on a Tube train at Stockwell Underground station, after being mistaken for a suicide terrorist who had attempted to bomb the London transport network the previous day.

Jurors criticised the operation for failing to use better photographs of the suicide bomb suspect which could have helped with his identification.

They said it was a police failure that Mr de Menezes was not stopped before he reached public transport.

Other factors which led to his death included shortcomings in communications between police units on the ground, and a failure of commanders at Scotland Yard to have an accurate picture of what was happening.

The jury, which deliberated for seven days, rejected the suggestion that Mr de Menezes’s “innocent” actions had in some way increased suspicions of police. …

The coroner had directed them to find an open verdict only if they rejected that the two marksmen who shot dead Mr de Menezes, “were acting in lawful defence of themselves or others” having “honestly although mistakenly” believed that he was a suicide bomber. …

The Times:

The inquest jury examining the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has returned an open verdict – refusing to accept the idea that he was lawfully killed in a fast-moving anti-terrorist operation.

The jurors also answered a series of questions about the circumstances of Mr de Menezes’s death on board a Tube train at Stockwell, South London, in a way which rejected much of the account of the shooting given by police firearms officers.

The Guardian on dramatic scenes toward the end, and apparently the family want a judicial review.

The Independent says Kratos has been dropped (although I must say that other Operations continue to exist!) and that 

Some officers see the continuing row over conferring on notes in the aftermath of high-profile incidents as an example of how they are increasingly considered as potential suspects and not witnesses.

Well, if I was to commit a prima facie unlawful killing, or even if I witnessed one, I wouldn’t be allowed to confer with other people.  Police are supposed to be members of the public.

Also the Independent says that,

Firearms bosses at Scotland Yard are openly angry over the way two elite marksmen were “vilified” during the Menezes inquest.

Of the catalogue of errors highlighted at the Oval cricket ground in south London, some officers insist that C2 and C12 had little option but to shoot Jean Charles de Menezes.

de Menezes family protest

Posted in de Menezes, law and order by ukliberty on December 4, 2008

The Telegraph (also the Times):

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes have staged a dramatic courtroom protest – minutes before jurors at the inquest into his death were sent out to consider their verdicts.

The innocent Brazilian’s cousins stood up in front of the jury and unveiled T-shirts displaying the message: “Your legal right to decide – unlawful killing verdict.”

Sir Michael Wright, the coroner, has already withdrawn from the jury the option of a verdict of unlawful killing. The 11 jurors will consider two outcomes: either that Mr de Menezes was lawfully killed or an open verdict.

Jurors looked on as Mr de Menezes’s three cousins – Patricia da Silva, Alessandro Pereira and Vivian Figueiredo – stood up and unzipped their jackets, revealing the message.

Flanked by a supporter, they walked towards the jurors, saying nothing, before leaving the courtroom while proceedings continued.

I must confess I have no knowledge of how jury directions work.  This particular decision seems wrong on the face of it but I am ignorant, so I would appreciate any tips my readers might have.

No verdict of unlawful killing allowed in Menzes inquest

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on December 2, 2008


The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will not be able to consider a verdict of unlawful killing, the coroner has said.

Sir Michael Wright said that having heard all the evidence, a verdict of unlawful killing was “not justified”. …

Honest belief at Stockwell

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on October 29, 2008

The Stockwell inquest has in the previous three days heard evidence from the two firearms officers who shot Jean Charles de Menezes: C12 and C2 (C for Charlie).  

There was some detail early on about where all the firearms officers were at particular times and the suggestion that they may have been in a position to prevent de Menezes from entering the tube station but had not been authorised to do so (indeed one of the issues coming out of the inquest is that the control room didn’t seem to be aware of where everyone was – they didn’t have a map, for example, that showed locations).

What I was particularly interested in is the question of honest belief: what information coming to your brain (what you are being told over the radio, what your colleagues are doing, what the suspect is doing and so on) helps form an honest belief that someone is an imminent threat to your life and the lives of others?

Now it is clear that you can quite easily look at individual components (“the male stood up…”) and dismiss them individually as being insufficient to form an honest belief – so it is the sum of the components that needs to be considered.

But what concerns me is that any member of the public might act just as de Menezes did, and even though his actions are entirely innocent, because of the situation the police are in and the information they have been given, anything he does might contribute to forming an honest belief that he is a threat, and he may wind up being killed.

(That is aside from Mr Mansfield QC’s suggestion that while the officers honestly believed de Menezes had been positively identified as one of the suicide bombers from the previous day, they did not honestly believe he “presented an immediate and mortal threat to himself and to other people in the vicinity”.)

The ammunition they were issued with, for example – the 9mm hollow point ammunition.  Take the following line of questioning of C12, too:


Q. There is no dispute, apparently, that you honestly believed that the man on the train had been positively identified as one of the suicide bombers from the previous day; you understand that?

A. I understand that, sir.

Q. Does that increase the assessment of the level of threat or decrease it?

A. It increases it, sir.

Q. The fact, as we know, that these individuals — and it’s accepted — were deadly and determined, does that increase or decrease the level of threat?

A. It increases it, sir. 

Q. The fact that you were told that they had access to bombs and that they could be concealed about the body of an individual without anyone seeing them, did that increase or decrease the level of threat?

A. Again it increases it, sir.

Q. The fact that the devastation from these bombs could kill a large number of people — which you would have obviously known from 7 July, as every member of the public would have known — did that increase the level of threat or decrease it?

A. Again, increase it, sir.

Q. The fact that his hands were held in a particular way, did that increase your fears or decrease them?

A. Again, increase.

Q. His movement in advancing towards you, did that increase the level of threat or decrease it?

A. Increase.

Q. The grabbing by Ivor, did that increase the level of threat or decrease it?

A. It was certainly —

SIR MICHAEL WRIGHT: Do you mean that, or the fact that Ivor grabbed him?

MR STERN: The fact that Ivor grabbed him.

SIR MICHAEL WRIGHT: Not the fact that he did grab him —

MR STERN: No. The fact that he had perceived —

SIR MICHAEL WRIGHT: — but the fact that Ivor was motivated to intervene.

MR STERN: That’s a much more eloquent way of putting it, sir. 


MR STERN: When you raised your weapon or shouted “armed police”, and he continued to advance towards you, did that increase your threat assessment or decrease it?

A. It increased it and, as I have said previously in evidence, that to me, then, that was the point of no return.

Surveillance team leader says there were failings

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on October 22, 2008

The BBC:

“Failings” by the Metropolitan Police led to the shooting death of Jean Charles de Menezes, a senior surveillance officer told an inquest.

The officer, known by the code name James, said the innocent man could have been stopped safely before he was shot.

He told the inquest into the case that his bosses took too long to say whether the Brazilian electrician should be stopped from getting on the tube.

Also, in relation to photos:

Few surveillance officers were carrying pictures of Osman because other officers “wouldn’t trust themselves not to leave the image behind”, James added.