When I first heard the news that someone – probably related to the recent bombings – had been shot to death on London after being held down I was a bit surprised. After all, after he was already down, it’d be way better to take him into custody and interrogate him.
Now the shocker: the man recently killed wasn’t connected to any bombing incident and wasn’t even under investigation. Plain clothes policemen followed him after he left a building that was under investigation; when policemen confronted him, he ran away. CNN is on the subject:
De Menezes on Friday left a south London apartment building that had been under surveillance as part of the investigation into the attempted bombings Thursday.
Officers followed him to the Stockwell Underground station. The man’s “clothing and suspicious behavior at the station added to their suspicions,” a police statement said.
He challenged police and refused to obey orders before he was shot and killed Friday morning, Blair said Friday.
A witness to the shooting, Mark Whitby, said he was sitting on the train when “I heard a lot of shouting.”
“I saw a chap run on to the train,” Whitby said. “He was running so fast he half sort of tripped. He was being pursued by three guys. One had a black handgun in his hand.”
“As he sort of went down, two of them sort of dropped on to him to hold him down, and the other one fired. I heard five shots.”
According to an eye witness report on Washing Post, he was already pinned down when shot.
“He looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox, absolutely petrified,” said Mark Whitby, one of the witnesses. “They pushed him onto the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him. I saw it. He’s dead.”
Ken Livingstone, Mayor or London, said:
The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public.
This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.
Dude. He was shot by policemen. Five shots to his head. When he was already pinned to the floor. I’m not in a very good position to judge other countries’ police actions – you can find reports of police brutality virtually everyday on brazilian newspapers, and I don’t know the exact conditions of the incident anyways – but when police start shooting to kill people that are suspects because of their clothing when they are already held down and blaming it on terrorists, there’s something very, very wrong going on.
A brazilian newspaper (in brazilian portuguese) has a bit more info on him. Jean Charles de Menezes, the man killed, was 27 and worked as an electrician. He spoke good english and had been living in London for three years. On thursday – a day before the incident – he said to a coworker that he would probably buy a motorcycle soon, to avoid using public transport – he was afraid of more attacks. On friday, just before he was shot to death, he phoned this coworker two times to say he would be late because of delays on the bus and subway systems. He didn’t call again; calls to his phone weren’t answered. Then, on saturday, at 1 in the morning, the police called his coworker back, investigating the calls made to and from Jean’s phone.
It kind of shocks me to know he was Brazilian and for all purposes working legally on the country (and had the same age as me), but what really makes me sad (apart from the usual tragedy of someone’s death) is that incidents like this just increases the fear the population is feeling… and you know where that leads to, and who profits from that.
Edit: Investigation shows that not only Scotlant Yard was resisting investigating the case, but new facts point to a new version of the whole case: Jean wasn’t running from police, he didn’t jump the gates (the policemen did though), he even picked up a free newspaper inside the station, and he only ran to get the train. He didn’t acknowledge being followed by police until he was sitting inside the train. He was then shot 8 times – 7 in the head, 1 in the shoulder – and 3 other shots missed their target. There are many discrepancies in reports done about the event, speciallyin face of new CCTV footage, but on all accounts, police actions seem too extreme from one point one view and too late from the other. And if you consider the new evidence, it just gets worse.