Murdering de Menezes

Remember the tragic shooting of a man in the London subway the day after the attempted bombings on 7/22? The police story was that the man, Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, was dressed in a bulky jacket, ran from police, and jumped the turnstiles to get on the train. He was followed and shot in the head under a policy publicized by the London police that sought to prevent suicide bombers from detonating their loads.

Well, the London police lied.

The young Brazilian shot dead by police on a London tube train in mistake for a suicide bomber had already been overpowered by a surveillance officer before he was killed, according to secret documents revealed last night…

It has now emerged that Mr de Menezes:

· was never properly identified because a police officer was relieving himself at the very moment he was leaving his home;

· was unaware he was being followed;

· was not wearing a heavy padded jacket or belt as reports at the time suggested;

· never ran from the police;

· and did not jump the ticket barrier.

But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortable for Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electrician had already been restrained by a surveillance officer before being shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

The documents reveal that a member of the surveillance team, who sat nearby, grabbed Mr de Menezes before he was shot: “I heard shouting which included the word ‘police’ and turned to face the male in the denim jacket.

“He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] officers … I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting … I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage.”

The issue here is whether law enforcement authorities are justified in invoking security to change their normal rules of engagement. There is always a tension between police and the public, because professional police organizations always strive to increase their authority. It's no surprise that police organizations supported the policy worldwide:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international organization representing police chiefs has broadened its policy for the use of deadly force by telling officers to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head.

The muslim community in London was fearful of the implications of such expanded police powers - not because of any sentiment for terror, but because of genuine concern that such powers would be used without due diligence:

BRITISH Muslims fear police are operating under a “shoot to kill” policy after a man was gunned down at an Underground train station following a second wave of bomb attacks. The Muslim Council of Britain called on police to explain why the Asian man, reported as a “suspected suicide bomber” by Sky News, was shot dead at Stockwell station in south London.

Police have confirmed officers pursued and shot a man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, but have offered no explanation for the shooting. The incident came a day after another apparent wave of would-be bombers hit London’s mass transport system, two weeks after four suspected Islamists blew themselves up on trains and a bus, killing 56 people.

A Muslim Council spokesman said Muslims were “jumpy and nervous”, and feared reprisal attacks. “I have just had one phone call saying: ‘What if I was carrying a rucksack?’” Inayat Bunglawala said, referring to the rucksack bombs used in the London attacks.

“It’s vital the police give a statement about what occurred (at Stockwell) and explain why the man was shot dead,” Mr Bunglawala said. “We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot-to-kill policy.”

For mockery of such fears, see the usual suspects.

However, there's a very real danger when we surrender our oversight to police - and other governmental enforcement entities. That danger is that we stand to lose more than we would from terror attacks. The muslim community in the UK (and to a somewhat lesser extent, in America) has a legitimate concerns about profiling, and aggressive extra-judicial enforcement being abused. The case of de Menezes is tragic - but also unsurprising, as a natural outcome of what happens when we absolve our public servants of the responsibility they have to the highest ideal of our law: innocent until proven guilty. That ideal is protected by the normal infrsatructure of our legal system, which we should turn to for support during difficult time,s not turn away from. As a wiser man than me said - in true conservative fashion:

"The ordinary processes of law." [trevino]
These apply, of course, to both wartime and peacetime.
Posted at 08/05/2005 07:49:43 PM EST

(thought-provoking commentary on the Menezes case from Edward at Obsidian Wings, and Scott Kirwin at Dean's World).

1 comment:

Baraka said...

Great post & information. Thank you.