Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


war on terror
July 23, 2005 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Friday, an innocent man was shot five times by London police.
posted by four panels (412 comments total)

 
Indeed. You beat me to the link.

The karma of mass hysteria claims another victim.
posted by digaman at 11:13 AM on July 23, 2005


Well, not completely innocent. Afterall, he did hurdle the turnstile. Hey, a shoot-to-kill policy might really cut down on turnstile hurdling. (always a silver lining)
posted by found missing at 11:15 AM on July 23, 2005


This is really, really, really unfortunate.
posted by Marquis at 11:21 AM on July 23, 2005


Well, 'innocent' is putting it a bit ... wrongly. If the particulars are still true, running from the police, wearing an anorak in mid-July, etc, then this was more suicide-by-cop(per) than something to be outraged about.

IOW, I don't think the UK police need revisit their procedures for ths.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2005


The police were in a lose/lose situation with this one.

He didn't stop when challenged, jumped the ticket barriers at the underground station and ran onto the train, so what were the police supposed to do? If he did have a device that he subsequently detonated, the officers involved would have got the blame for not shooting him.

It's a horrible situation to be in and it's not a decision I'd ever like to find myself having to make.
posted by Nugget at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2005


[this is not good]
posted by clevershark at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2005


"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets," the statement said.

Okay then, at least they regret it.
posted by jonson at 11:24 AM on July 23, 2005


Anorak-wearing in July certainly sounds like a capital offense to me, particularly if you have dark skin. Call the fashion police, and arm them with M-16s.

The lessons of history: The chronology of Japanese-American internment camps during World War 2. The "virtual internment camp" Muslims have lived in since 9/11. And by 2003, Ann Coulter was already calling people who object to the indefinite detention of Muslims "traitors."
posted by digaman at 11:25 AM on July 23, 2005


digaman: I think you're intentionally ignoring the fact that he didn't get shot for wearing an Anorak. If he had stopped when requested, he'd still be here to sweat his summer days away in whatever winter wear he loves.
posted by found missing at 11:28 AM on July 23, 2005


Anyone have the guts to admit there's no deeper lesson or meaning to this and move on or do we need yet another platform for the rhetoric of racism?
posted by docpops at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2005


I don't think the UK police need revisit their procedures for ths.

Of course not. Any police officer anywhere is justified in shooting anybody at any time for any reason. It's what we pay them for.

And Nugget's right: hysteria justifies everything. See the Mefi thread on Ritual Abuse Torture for another example. It's the same principle: if good citizens fail to convict and/or shoot these evildoers just because there's no real evidence then the Enemy has already won.
posted by davy at 11:33 AM on July 23, 2005


I'm with Heywood & found missing. It's unfortunate that the guy's dead, but let's use our head here, people.
posted by juggernautco at 11:36 AM on July 23, 2005


What if he didn't speak English? Do you know if he did? Or perhaps inability to understand English is now also a capital offense.

There certainly is a deeper meaning to this: war and terror create the conditions of mass hysteria that lead to awful tragedies like this.
posted by digaman at 11:37 AM on July 23, 2005


So one who thinks this is no big deal, please explain to me how this doesn't mean that the "terrorist have already won".

I don't know if it is safe to assume that the plain-clothes police forces in London weren't shooting turnstyle hoppers before, but for sake of argument let's assume they weren't. If they "hate our way of life" and we and we change our way of life to something less acceptable to all of of us, isn't that a total victory for the terrorists?
posted by betaray at 11:38 AM on July 23, 2005


found missing: right-o. "Muslim" in appearance, coming out of a suspect apartment, odd behavior, etc all increase the probability of a significant threat. If there weren't just a follow-on wave (or that first wave) of muslim bombers, then I'd give the po-po less latitude here perhaps.

This is serious shit, digaman. fwiw, I'm not too hung up on the PATRIOT act stuff here, either. If the police powers are abused then I'll revisit that, but in the interim I want to have the most capable counter-terrorist force possible.

And this is coming from a squishy liberal who thinks we need to "understand" the bombers' grievances, such as they are, and work to make "more friends and less enemies" in the mideast.

Granted, this case just ratchets up the cycle of violence, but in the short run muslim-looking turn-style jumping anorak wearers need to rethink their behavior in the London subway.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:39 AM on July 23, 2005


betaray, see the last clause of my immediate above.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2005


Well he had to be guilty of something! All of the pro-Patriot Act types should consider reading up on "false positives". THIS is what happens with that mentality.

On an unrelated note, check out these comics: page 1 and page 2.
posted by rzklkng at 11:41 AM on July 23, 2005


Yay, let's become afraid of our own police.

Terrorist win? Naw... (peeks through blinds at outside world)
posted by dreamsign at 11:42 AM on July 23, 2005


That's nice, but how we don't know what sort of abusrd class will be dealt with lethally next? The terrorist have turned our police into a weapon for their cause as well. Now the terrorist have killed 52 with bombs and 1 with police. Still not sure how this is not a hands down victory for the terrorists.
posted by betaray at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2005


digaman, allow me to say that I think you're an ass. The "not speak English" possibility crossed my mind yesterday (but this is just unfounded speculation right now), but the putative facts of the case lead me to NOT castigate the police over this.

This wasn't a random 'oops' event; the guy was being tailed, he booked, and the police took him out. Well done, really. To meaningfully criticize this killing, you need to offer some sort of argument of what the police should have done differently.

Remember that there was a very non-zero chance this guy had enough explosives on him to take out a 20-30M radius around him.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2005


agg, should be "but how do we know". The fear is affecting my posting.
posted by betaray at 11:46 AM on July 23, 2005


Couldn't this link be added to the other thread, it is still open.
Sorry, I do happen to think that this is FPP worthy, just a joke.

Well, must say this isn't a complete suprise, people who become motivated by fear and paranioa usually do stupid things. It plays like a reflection of the US/UK reaction to the successful attack on the World Trade buildings and the Petnagon in 2001.

Attack the brown defenseless man - he might be a terrorist (by our self-serving myopic definition)!

This kind of thing is very likely to further radicalise the middle ground and result in less trust of the police by the very people that they should be trying to build bridges with.

I assume your comment is meant faciteously, Heywood Mogroot. None of the things you list are punishable offences, with the possible exception of running from the police, but if they were plain clothed he may have had good reason to be suspicious of them.

I have seen many people who wear 'big' clothes in the summer (it isn't very warm at the moment anyway, 20C) and all year round, some of them are mentally ill. If I were a paranoid schitzophrenic and I thought 'they' were out to get me I might indeed wear a coat as protection and run when some men shouted at me.

My paranoia may have been brought on by a physical attack from some white men who pretended to be police officers to gain my trust, then robbed and beat me. My already fragile mind may have been pushed over the edge when the police denied my report of the incident, saying that I was making up the bit about the attackers being the police. I might then construct a conspiracy theory that the police like to rob and beat me and deny it happened afterward.
/thought experiment

Once again the police shoot an innocent man. One wonders how unarmed civilians have been shot by police here, and how many unarmed police have been shot by civilians.

Good on beth for bringing up the idea of discussing this possiblity in the previous thread.
posted by asok at 11:47 AM on July 23, 2005


Last year I visited a friend in suburban Texas. One beautiful morning, I stepped outside to have a cigarette and took a walk down the block. Within five minutes, a police car screeched up to where I was standing. The policeman did not get out of the car, but sat there and stared at me in mirrored sunglasses until I came over to the window, where he barked an order at me to hand him my ID. Even though I'm a journalist who has been in some sticky spots before, it was an unnerving situation. When I buttered him up by noticing that he too was smoking a cigarette, he told me that the department had gotten phone calls about "a dark-skinned male in dark clothing lurking in the neighborhood." I'm a Jew who may or may not look vaguely Arab. Oddly enough, my friend and I were stopped by the police in Longview three times that week. I can only imagine what things are like now for actual Arabs in traditional dress.
posted by digaman at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2005


Tragic situation.

I'm not sure anyone can really be blamed. From the incomplete picture presented by press accounts, the actions of both the police (who saw a suspicious looking character with a known potential connection to the previous bombers [which appears not to have checked out] in baggy coat sprinting towards a train) and the victim (who might not have understoof that these were plainclothes police, rather than criminals, or may simply have panicked) appear to have been potentially reasonable. Further investigation is surely needed, but, at this stage, it simply seems like a case of a series of misunderstandings leading to tragedy.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2005


Now the terrorist have killed 52 with bombs and 1 with police

One apparent idiot, yes. Oh well. The bigger picture, if this guy was a muslim than that is bad since the other side can propagandize this as a terror killing, but, again, if the particulars are correct then I don't see the need to revisit policy. Do you? What exactly should the police have done differently in the case of muslim-looking turnstile-jumping anorak wearers in July?

In this particular case, the police could/should have just rolled him up on the street, but perhaps they were tailing him for a reason.

Police work is no picnic, and to see people here just mindlessly carp on about their actions is just really fucking annoying.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:50 AM on July 23, 2005


Heywood, thanks for mentioning my ass -- it was feeling ignored this morning. Oh, I guess you meant it some other way.

Please note that I was not castigating the police. What I said was that war and terror create hysteria. In that sense, the police are as much victims (of both the terrorists and of war-mongering governments) as the guy who was shot.
posted by digaman at 11:52 AM on July 23, 2005


(it isn't very warm at the moment anyway, 20C)

Lucky bastard.

Also, I'm thinking: If they were plain clothes perhaps the guy thought they were some yobs (is that the right term?) looking to beat up a muslim, or something.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2005


None of the things you list are punishable offences

You're missing the context of being a potential suicide bomber.

Granted, the police are naturally going to be putting more people in this class. The rational response is to limit one's attributes that put one in this threatened category.

Don't be muslim-looking.
Don't wear an anorak in July.
Don't come from a suspected apartment.
Don't run into the subway in London when the (plain clothes?) police stop you.

Granted, the first one is sorta tough. While there are reasons that nationality profiling is not a bullet-proof solution (it is possible to coerce or dupe anyone to become a suicide bomber), it is indeed a useful first-pass tool (at least from the evidence I see on net it is more useful than misleading)
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:59 AM on July 23, 2005


OTHO: Metro's Response To Alert Delayed
Riders Say Backpack Slow to Be Removed


That's the Washington, DC Metro, folks.

WashPost requires reg, so here's the gist of it: Jittery about the bombings in London and told to be vigilant, Metro riders spotted an unattended backpack yesterday on the last car of a Blue Line train and did exactly as officials have been urging. They alerted the train operator.

But the suspicious bag stayed on Train 401 as it rolled through two more stations -- Metro Center, a major hub, and McPherson Square, a few blocks from the White House -- before Metro officials took the train out of service and inspected the backpack...

"This woman came in frantically and said, 'Call the operator on the intercom -- there's a suspicious package in the last car,' " she said. "A man called the driver on the intercom, and I could hear the driver insisting we had to clear the doors, to move the backpack because she was having trouble closing the doors."

As the doors closed at Federal Triangle, the operator announced that there was an unattended bag and that security officials would "hopefully" board the train farther down the line, Lewis said. And the train proceeded.


Makes riding the train every day a little bit more exciting.

I'm throwing my lot in with those that think it's awfully regrettable that the guy got shot, but given the facts and his behavior, I'd rather have the police err on the side of caution. I can't imagine how badly they would feel if they let him onto a train, it blew up, and killed scores more people. "Ooops?" just wouldn't cut it.
posted by Corky at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2005


I too have to say that I don't particularly blame the police--sometimes bad things happen and there aren't convenient good and bad sides. You have to keep in mind, too, the fear those policemen must have been feeling: presumably if he did have a bomb, they would've been killed in the explosion. When you're standing right next to a potential suicide bomber I imagine that you are very much fearing for your own life as well.

The overarching conclusion here is simply that suicide bombing works. It's very hard to stop and traditional police methods are not well-equipped to confront it. The cops, in other words, could very easily have done wrong without being evil as such.
posted by josh at 12:00 PM on July 23, 2005


OTHO = OTOH
posted by Corky at 12:01 PM on July 23, 2005


BTW, can we go back to using 'the terrorists have already won' in an ironic way?--unless, of course, you're a right wingnut. In that case, continue to use the phrase so we can mock you superciliously.
posted by found missing at 12:02 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "Well, 'innocent' is putting it a bit ... wrongly. If the particulars are still true, running from the police, wearing an anorak in mid-July, etc, then this was more suicide-by-cop(per) than something to be outraged about."

Saying he's innocent is not putting it wrongly. You are probably thinking "blameless", and, yes, saying he is entirely blameless is putting it a bit wrongly.

davy : "Any police officer anywhere is justified in shooting anybody at any time for any reason."

Ah, I see. When did that come about? So far (as with this case), they were shooting at someone specific (a person leaving from a terrorist suspect's house) for a specific reason (high likelihood of carrying a bomb). The cops were dead wrong, and now an innocent guy is dead, and that really fucking sucks. That said, you'll convince me that society has reached the "any police officer anywhere is justified in shooting anybody at any time for any reason" stage when we start seeing police popping crying babies, old ladies, or rude pub staff.

betaray : "If they 'hate our way of life' and we and we change our way of life to something less acceptable to all of of us, isn't that a total victory for the terrorists?"

Well, if they hate our way of life completely (no evidence of that), and their goal is to change any aspect of our way of life (again, no evidence of that), then, yes, if we change it, they have acheived total victory. However, I highly doubt that they hate every aspect of our way of life, and even if they do, I completely doubt that they would consider changing any aspect of our life to be a total victory ("Ah, those Brits now have to take off their jackets when entering the subway in summer! Our bombing campaign was a total success"). Suicide bombers don't give up their lives with the objective of making people's commutes 1 minute longer or having the number of trash bins in stations reduced.
posted by Bugbread at 12:03 PM on July 23, 2005


What I said was that war and terror create hysteria

I disagree, if this is your argument here, that this was a hysteria event. People taking out subway cars with suicide bombs require a more ... diligent... application of police power. This sort of incident is indeed to be expected, since there are a lot of incompetent people out and about.

But I do agree that the US populace did get sent WAY over the edge after 911. The security lines at the airport are largely bullshit (then again I'm not sure how hardened the flightdeck is) yet we tolerate them like good sheep.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:04 PM on July 23, 2005


This guy wasn't shot "at any time for any reason". His death was the result of a very specific combination of circumstances, including, apparently, his own stupidity.

What happened in London on Friday is analogous to the police shooting someone after accidentally mistaking a toy cap gun for a real gun. It is tragic, but understandable to anyone who is honest enough to admit that sometimes people have to make life or death decisions with incomplete information.
posted by nyterrant at 12:06 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Remember that there was a very non-zero chance this guy had enough explosives on him to take out a 20-30M radius around him"

According to what exactly? The 'intelligence' was clearly incorrect on the location and this man. If they had a good reason to suspect that this man was living in a 'bomb factory' or whatever why did they not bust it?

I'd say to get good intelligence gathering requires (as the recent Plame threads have discussed) a trust bond between an informant and the agent. If you have n trust you have no advantage over having no information. In fact you are at a disadvantage.

If you create an atmosphere where the 'good' people feel they cannot inform because their information (which they may not be 100% sure of) could lead to deaths of innocent people then you have seriously compromised the intelligence gathering abilities of this sort.
posted by asok at 12:07 PM on July 23, 2005


betaray : "Still not sure how this is not a hands down victory for the terrorists."

Well, victory isn't determined by casualty figures, it's determined by satisfaction of victory objectives. The question is, what are the terrorists' victory objectives, and have they been satisfied?
posted by Bugbread at 12:09 PM on July 23, 2005


My solution, do nothing. Ignore the terrorist. "Turn the other cheek", as Jesus put it. We ignore much more deadly things every single day. Automobile accidents kill more per year than terrorist attacks. More children die at the hands of their parents per year than in terrorist attacks. The more attention we give the terrorists the more effective we make their methods seem. The more we try to crack down on groups that cause this kind of trouble, the more we motivate and grow those groups. I'm all for the kind of security that keeps honest people honest, but there's always going to be crazy people out there that will find ways of making our lives suck. Let's try to not make them into heroes for other potential crazy people. Let's let them blow themselves up in anonymity.

Unfortunately this is not solution that would ever be accepted politically. I'm sure you're going to post some long screed that eviscerates me, but the truth is that we're not going to end this by being more violent.
posted by betaray at 12:09 PM on July 23, 2005


Since the initial story broke I've been curious as to why the police would gun this man down. Supposing he wa guilty of something wouldn't you want to at least ask him some questions? As they say, dead men tell no tales. I'm actually quite surprised that they are even admitting he was innocent. The new world is one of an emerging police state even in our "free countries".

For those who believe there is no blame to be placed I disagree... the blame clearly rests on the shoulders of the police and those involved should be arrested immediately. This mass hysteria is out of control. The fact that any of this happened shows that, but I think the fact that they shot him five times is even more telling. I'm no expert but when a man is down on the ground to begin with how many more bullets does it take to stop him. Did they stop because they had no more rounds? I can only imagine that they were motivated by some trumped up fear that he was going to pull the pin on some imaginary bomb at any moment. And that my friends is hysteria, hysteria by those who are supposed to be calm and in control.

And to those who defend the actions of the police based on him not stopping... I don't know what to say but I would ask you to consider this from my point of view for a moment. Would you stop? I can't say for sure if I would. I live in a major metro and have been robbed no less than three times. I know, I know... I'm doing something wrong. I think it must be a record. But I run into creeps all the time. I avoid them, I walk faster and in this situation. If I had people chasing me I think I would run as fast as my legs would carry me.

The man is dead and the police should be ashamed, Sir Ian Blair should be ashamed, Tony Blair should be ashamed and more than anyone George Bush should be ashamed. It may be a leap for some but that man has more blood on his hands than anyone and his false wars have helped to create an environment of fear worldwide. Our governments are creating more terror than the terrorists... which is exactly what they want.
posted by jasenlee at 12:10 PM on July 23, 2005


you're right beta--and all the actions taken here and elsewhere do give them a victory, even without having to blow up anything.

If the cops were plainclothes, did they identify themselves to this guy at all during the incident before downing him? Why wouldn't this guy, or anyone, run from random guys chasing him?
posted by amberglow at 12:15 PM on July 23, 2005


I'm sorry,
Stockwell passenger Mark Whitby told BBC News he had seen a man of Asian appearance shot five times by "plain-clothes police officers".
"One of them was carrying a black handgun - it looked like an automatic - they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him," he said.


20 ununiformed guys come at you with guns and your first instinct isn't to run? How about asking why they felt the need to shoot him 5 times after they were apparantly "bundled on top of him". This stinks of police-hysteria.

Of course we are tempted to give the police more slack when there is "terror about", but that's a dangerous attitude. The hallmark of a liberal society is the freedom of individuals, and the presumption of innocence. By giving those up, we are destined to lose this 'battle of ideologies'.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:16 PM on July 23, 2005


jasenlee : "Since the initial story broke I've been curious as to why the police would gun this man down. Supposing he wa guilty of something wouldn't you want to at least ask him some questions? As they say, dead men tell no tales. I'm actually quite surprised that they are even admitting he was innocent."

First, I'm surprised that you haven't stumbled across the reason why they would shoot him: they suspected he had a bomb, and they wanted to prevent him from triggering it. Dead men tell no tales, but its better to have a single dead man who tells no tales than a trainload of dead men who tell no tales.

As for admitting he was innocent: this is the UK we're discussing, not the US.

jasenlee : "For those who believe there is no blame to be placed I disagree... the blame clearly rests on the shoulders of the police and those involved should be arrested immediately."

The very fact that there are people disagreeing with you proves that the clarity of the blame resting on the shoulders of the police is untrue.

jasenlee : "The fact that any of this happened shows that, but I think the fact that they shot him five times is even more telling. I'm no expert but when a man is down on the ground to begin with how many more bullets does it take to stop him."

Telling of what? And how is shooting a man multiple times in the head worse than shooting him once? Is it adding insult to injury? And are people who have just been killed that concerned with the insult factor?

jasenlee : "Did they stop because they had no more rounds?"

No. Police pistols carry more than 5 rounds.

jasenlee : "Would you stop?"

Yes. Absolutely. I don't trust the police implicitly either. And if I were a muslim guy being told to stop by police, I'd be mighty scared. But running away is asking to be shot, and I'm more scared of death than arrest or incarceration.
posted by Bugbread at 12:17 PM on July 23, 2005


Suicide bombers do change the rules. Everybody thinking that a major city can have a multiple-suicide-bomber incident and continue operating by the same rules is a moron. One of those new rules might be: You are innocent until proven guilty unless you:
a) dress like a suicide bomber would dress
and
b) come out of a house that is under surveillance related to the earlier suicide bombings
and
c) do not stop when told to by law enforcement
and
d) head directly for the target of the earlier suicide bombings (the crowded tube).


If my family member is on that tube, I really don't want a person who does all 4 of the things above to be given the opportunity to be proven guilty. (A suicide bomber is his own judge, jury and executioner).

Innocent people being killed sucks. It also sucks when they are civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is an unfortunate part of what happens when a war is brought to your town. To think otherwise is to be living in la-la-land.
posted by spock at 12:18 PM on July 23, 2005


Popular Ethics : "20 ununiformed guys come at you with guns and your first instinct isn't to run?"

My first instinct is to shit my pants. Then it all comes down to whether they identified themselves as police or not. If they had, my next instinct would be to stop, not run. If they hadn't, my next instinct would be to run, not stop.

Popular Ethics : "How about asking why they felt the need to shoot him 5 times after they were apparantly 'bundled on top of him'."

To prevent him from triggering a bomb that they believed (erroneously) that he was carrying. Man, don't y'all read the other threads on Mefi / any other discussion boards? Disagreeing with whether he needed to be shot is one thing, but this is the second person professing not to know why they even felt the need to shoot him.
posted by Bugbread at 12:21 PM on July 23, 2005


Yes. Absolutely. I don't trust the police implicitly either. And if I were a muslim guy being told to stop by police, I'd be mighty scared. But running away is asking to be shot, and I'm more scared of death than arrest or incarceration.

But we still don't know if they identified themselves as police, either at the beginning, middle or end of this tragedy. I personally think the police would have made that clear in a statement if they had done so at any time.

I'm also reminded of Eleanor Bumpers and Michael Stewart and other incidents of blacks being wrongfully killed by cops here.
posted by amberglow at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2005


the blame clearly rests on the shoulders of the police

Perhaps, but not alone. Also rests on the shoulders of Osama, the bomb makers, whomever indoctrinated the bomb deliverers, and many others who helped make all this happen. Separating out the London police for special 'blame' seems a little myopic at this point.

This mass hysteria is out of control.

Debate-able but in any case, who is responsible for this, whose avowed aim and purpose is precicely this, not the London police.
posted by scheptech at 12:25 PM on July 23, 2005


I feel nothing but sorrow for everyone involved. Sorrow for the dead guy, sorrow for his relatives and friends, sorrow for the cops.

All those people living in fear.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:33 PM on July 23, 2005


amberglow : "But we still don't know if they identified themselves as police, either at the beginning, middle or end of this tragedy."

Exactly.

amberglow : "I personally think the police would have made that clear in a statement if they had done so at any time. "

I personally don't think so. Which kind of takes us back to stage 1 (where we should be), which is obtaining information in order to make an assessment, not just guessing what happened and then making our assessment based on that. Sure, information always changes, and you can't wait until you know absolutely everything before making a judgement (otherwise we probably won't know if this was really justified or unjustified until all these cops have written their memoirs and passed away from old age, if then), but we're really at a stage where all we can safely say is "This absolutely must be scrutinized deeply".
posted by Bugbread at 12:34 PM on July 23, 2005


spock: Suicide bombers do change the rules . . . To think otherwise is to be living in la-la-land.

I can sympathised with your emotions, but you're wrong. Worse, that's exactly the way the bombers are trying to make you feel. Though the risk they pose is small, their acts are so inhuman that they are given a ton of exposure, leading people like you to claim the false ideal 'security' suddenly trumps the presumption of innocence.

Now is the time to champion the principles that make our society great. Now is not the time to sign away your rights becuase you're scared.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:35 PM on July 23, 2005


The point, people, is that mischievous behaviour is being interpreted as malevolent behaviour, and there's a lot of joy that goes out in the world when that happens (especially when backed with lethal friggin state force).

I remember being run down by a cop car, officers out, hands on weapons, for chasing another kid with a donut. It's a funny story, but might have turned out rather different today.

As for this being the officers' "fault" -- well, perhaps. I don't have enough info to say. But think of this like tennis, or chess. There are forced and unforced errors. If this was an unforced error, then the cops have a lot to answer for. But the terrorists can force errors too, in which case... they are simply winning the game.
posted by dreamsign at 12:35 PM on July 23, 2005


In a statement tonight, Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights organisation Liberty, said: "Our hearts go out to the family of the dead man and to the officers involved in this tragic incident.

"No-one should rush to judgement. In any case of this kind - especially at a time of heightened tension - there must be a prompt, comprehensive and independent investigation into what happened.

"This must cover the relevant guidance, training of officers, as well as the facts of the particular operation.

"These are knife-edge split second decisions made in moments of grave danger. We have a massive shared interest in the protection of innocent lives."


.

Words of wisdom for us all.
posted by nyterrant at 12:36 PM on July 23, 2005


I don't have time to read this whole thread, but look at this way: if the police were NOT in uniform then it was common sense to run from men with drawn guns chasing him. I would, wouldn't you?

Around here we have "blue light bandits" who pretend to be cops and pull you over to rob, rape and/or kill you. The articles in the newpaper say that when there's doubt you should drive to a well-lit public area like a gas station or truck stop and then pull over. The problem with that is, to go by what y'all law-&-order types say, if it really IS a cop car then the cops would be perfectly justified in opening fire on you for not stopping immediately. After all, every cat looks Muslim in the dark.
posted by davy at 12:37 PM on July 23, 2005


The victim's name is Jean Charles de Menezes, 27 years old, from Minas Gerais state, Brazil. He had been living in London for four years and worked as an electrician. Not exactly a terrorist.
posted by ig at 12:37 PM on July 23, 2005


Apologies if this has been discussed elsewhere, but shooting a potential sucide bomber cannot surely be a safe strategy? The failed bombings used explosive detonators and although IANAbomb expert, this suggests to me shooting near non-current detonated explosives is not a good thing? Or have I been watching too much 24 hr news?

Central Londoner here by the way, and there has been a sinking feeling about this Stockwell incident since I first heard about it. Although of course, it all sucks...
posted by klaatu at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2005


Yes. Absolutely. I don't trust the police implicitly either. And if I were a muslim guy being told to stop by police, I'd be mighty scared. But running away is asking to be shot, and I'm more scared of death than arrest or incarceration.

Because after all, the police have never been known to brutalize or kill suspects once in custody. Nope, never.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 12:38 PM on July 23, 2005


I'm pretty horrified. Whatever the potential justification, this is definitely going to inflame feelings within and around the Muslim community, and will likely be one more story of infidel villainry that will fuel the fires driving this kind of action.

It's true that I find it difficult to say what other options the police had, especially since I still don't think we can gain a full knowledge of the circumstances from the information we have so far. Still, it all sounds like there was a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity, not to mention possible panic, and that being so I still think they surely could have acted sooner or in some way that would have made it clearer whether he really posed such an immediate threat that this was necessary. There should definitely be an extensive enquiry.

This is a conflict between extremist terrorists and potentially-armed police. If someone is shot in that conflict, can we really blame the victim for something as relatively understandable as running away from the police or wearing a big jacket, no matter how foolish? It's been hot recently, but the weather is hardly steady in England, and I've worn a leather coat a few times recently. If I was carrying the wrong type of herbs around, for instance, perhaps I too would have run from police who were far enough away from me - after all, in nearly all cases the police aren't expected to be carrying guns. These guys were even in plain clothes. And if they did start firing, I can imagine how someone might panic and keep fleeing. If I was shot for that, well -- man, I would be pissed off. And so would my alive, potentially devout and vengeful friends.
posted by Drexen at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2005


bugbread: Disagreeing with whether he needed to be shot is one thing, but this is the second person professing not to know why they even felt the need to shoot him.

Fair enough bugbread. But their only justification - that he resembled a suicide bomber, does not warrant summary execution imho.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:42 PM on July 23, 2005


Incidentally, non-Londoners out there, Stockwell (not too far from Brixton) is not an are known for its reputation of civilized non-violent conflict resolution. Non-uniform guys chasing me down, I'd love to say I would hear every word of their warnings and be of a calm enough mind and brave enough heart to stop and discuss their greivances rationally. But I can't. I might have run and I suspect many others here would have too.

Do we like that possible world?
posted by klaatu at 12:43 PM on July 23, 2005


dreamsign : "As for this being the officers' "fault" -- well, perhaps. I don't have enough info to say."

Thank god I'm not the only one.

davy : "if the police were NOT in uniform then it was common sense to run from men with drawn guns chasing him. I would, wouldn't you?"

Again: it depends if they announced they were police or not, and we don't know the answer to that.

davy : "The articles in the newpaper say that when there's doubt you should drive to a well-lit public area like a gas station or truck stop and then pull over."

So, presumably, a good safe place to stop would be in front of the turnstiles of a busy station in the middle of the day-time, no?

While I haven't made up my mind either way, there are some factors that I think can be judged as important to the final judgement. For example, if this had happened at night, the likelihood of flight being a more reasonable response than stopping would increase, and by day, would decrease. If it was in a back alley, the likelihood of flight being more reasonable than stopping would increase, while in a crowded area, it would decrease. So, as you provide in your example: if in doubt, I would go to a well lit area with multiple witnesses, such as in front of a tube station. I would not jump the turnstile, unless I was unaware that the people were professing to be police.
posted by Bugbread at 12:44 PM on July 23, 2005


What if he didn't speak English? Do you know if he did? Or perhaps inability to understand English is now also a capital offense.

...if the police were NOT in uniform then it was common sense to run from men with drawn guns chasing him. I would, wouldn't you?

The language of shouting and firearm gesticulation is universal.

If you were in a foreign country whose language you didn't speak and a group of men began waving guns at you and shouting, chances are you'd probably want to stop moving. Even if they weren't the police it would still be a lot more likely that they'd shoot you if you ran away- after all, if they just wanted to shoot you, why would they draw your attention by shouting at you? Running from somebody with a gun drawn on you is just asking to be shot. If you stay still, at least you might survive the initial encounter.
posted by baphomet at 12:48 PM on July 23, 2005


Apologies if this has been discussed elsewhere, but shooting a potential sucide bomber cannot surely be a safe strategy? The failed bombings used explosive detonators and although IANAbomb expert, this suggests to me shooting near non-current detonated explosives is not a good thing?

I really wonder about that too--wasn't there a large chance of a bullet hitting something explosive?
posted by amberglow at 12:49 PM on July 23, 2005


especially if the cops are operating under the assumption that they guy had explosives?
posted by amberglow at 12:49 PM on July 23, 2005


Bugbread, you've said what I would have throughout the thread.

And,
First, we don't know enough to make a judgment - but my guess is that the blame lies mostly on this guy for pulling some really dumb moves at a time and place when and where he must know pulling dumb moves can have lethal consequences. The cops did the right thing with the information and behavior they had, and the post-facto exoneration of the guy has little bearing on that. Furthermore, it is police policy (I think) to shoot to kill, and with fair warning, so they're not going to go for a leg even if this guy is just a shoplifter or whatever. The guns are only used for lethal force.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2005


According to a couple of reports including BBC Radio 4, the victim may have been Brazilian -- there's a large Portuguese-speaking community in Stockwell (just up the road from me).

SO19, the armed branch of the Metropolitan Police, have a record of shooting people who they thought were carrying guns but which turned out to be chair legs, cigarette lighters, etc. They're also a little bit up themselves: after the inquest on the guy who'd been carrying the chair-leg in a bag brought in a verdict of "unlawful killing" (he was shot from behind, though the two officers claimed he'd turned round as if to shoot at them), more than 100 SO19 officers handed in their guns in protest at the suspension of two of their colleagues.

Also, doesn't firing a gun at many types of explosive have a non-zero chance of detonating them? (On preview: what Klaatu and amberglow said)

My reading of the situation: the guy in the jacket panicked, and the police panicked.
posted by Hogshead at 12:51 PM on July 23, 2005


klaatu : "The failed bombings used explosive detonators and although IANAbomb expert, this suggests to me shooting near non-current detonated explosives is not a good thing?"

IANABomb expert either, but from what I've picked up from other IANABomb experts with more knowledge than myself: it really depends on the bomb type. Some could be set off by shooting, some couldn't. However, from the point of view of the shooting itself triggering the bomb, the safest way to shoot (if you were to do so) would be to immobilize the suspect and then shoot them in the head (where it's guaranteed no explosives are hidden) from point blank range. So if (and, yes, that's a big if) you were going to shoot someone who you suspected was carrying a bomb, they way they did it would seem like the safest option. The question, of course, being whether or not shooting at all was justified.

Regarding that, you've got two types of triggers that can be used by a bomber: regular triggers, where they have to close a connection, push a button, burn something, etc., and dead-man triggers, where opening a connection would trigger the bomb (think of the spoon on a hand-grenade once the pin has been pulled: holding the hand grenade, it will never blow up. Let go of it, and it will be triggered). I don't know what the ratios are of the two, but I would suspect that the virtue of killing or not killing a suspected armed bomber in a public area would be based on which trigger type is more statistically likely.

Dr_Johnson : "Because after all, the police have never been known to brutalize or kill suspects once in custody. Nope, never."

Er...your sarcasm is missing the target, as I do not in any way believe that. Not sure what you intended by it. But, yes, surrendering to the cops does not guarantee you will avoid death. It does provide a higher chance of avoiding death than running from them does. So if given the choice between a 90% chance of death by running, or (lets be charitable) an 80% chance of death by surrendering, then, yes, I would still surrender.

Popular Ethics : "But their only justification - that he resembled a suicide bomber"

Was that their only justification? I was under the impression that he was tailed leaving from a house under surveillance for some connection to the second round of failed suicide bombers.
posted by Bugbread at 12:57 PM on July 23, 2005


The guy absolutely should have been shot. Given what happened, the police did the right thing.

The question is, why did he run? It wouldn't shock me if it was because he was wanted for a crime. If he thought he was going to get arrested if he didn't run, he might not have realized just how severe a penalty he'd pay if he DID.

We could cut down on many, many, MANY infringements of civil liberties and make everyone safer to boot with a simple rule; if someone searches you for evidence of terrorism, the only evidence that they can use against you is a WMD. If you've got pot, or a warrant out for your arrest, when they search you for a bomb, they give you back your pot and let you go... that evidence should be inadmissible in court.

But the REAL reason for the searching is probably to get the people who would have gotten away before; it's to clamp down tighter, not to really protect people. So I don't expect this idea to fly.

It remains, however, the right thing to do.

(I believe I got this idea from John Gillmore... it's not my original idea. Wish it was, it's a very good one.)
posted by Malor at 12:57 PM on July 23, 2005


Running from somebody with a gun drawn on you is just asking to be shot. If you stay still, at least you might survive the initial encounter.

Let me remind you that the fellow who was shot was a Brazilian immigrant, and that the Brazilian police do not have the best of reputations. On need not assume that he did not recognize them as police to conceive of a rationale behind his flight. I am not saying that this was the correct decision, but it was not necessarily an unreasoned decision.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 12:58 PM on July 23, 2005


But the REAL reason for the searching is probably to get the people who would have gotten away before; it's to clamp down tighter, not to really protect people. So I don't expect this idea to fly.

It remains, however, the right thing to do.


I'm afraid your sympathies seem slightly contradictory, though your solution is appealing.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:00 PM on July 23, 2005


The bloke lived in the U.K. for four years, and had a full time job as an electrician. So it is doubtful that he was, in any substantive way, mentally ill or otherwise disturbed. It is within the realm of assumption that he would be able to understand "police" and "stop". But he jumped a fucking turnstile and kept running which does make him very, very stupid. He put himself in the situation; he made one bad decision after another. It is sad that he is dead but there is absolutely nothing that marks this as policemen gone mad with power or racism or any other bullshit.
posted by gsh at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2005


These UK officers were in a no win situation as someone said at the very begin. They don't do something and he blows up a train they are vilified. They do what they did and they are vilified. When the police say stop you stop. Period. As a white guy, if all the other variables were the same I'd expect to get shot, or at least take more then a few batons to the head and upper body if I ran AWAY from the police TOWARDS a train.
posted by webranding at 1:02 PM on July 23, 2005


Oh, and a little clarification on the shooting → explosion bit (I didn't phrase the conclusion that well): When I said that "shooting someone who is immobilized at point blank in the head is the safest way to shoot them", it could have been read "it's risky, but the least risky". What I meant to imply is that, from what I've gathered in other discussions (and, therefore, certainly not authoritative fact), it is basically risk-free, setting aside the dead-man switch option.
posted by Bugbread at 1:03 PM on July 23, 2005


It is sad that he is dead but there is absolutely nothing that marks this as policemen gone mad with power or racism or any other bullshit.

Tell me that when they waste a blonde, blue eyed potential terrorist who jumps a turnstyle and runs.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:04 PM on July 23, 2005


I missed this earlier bugbread: "Ah, those Brits now have to take off their jackets when entering the subway in summer! Our bombing campaign was a total success"

How about, "Ah, the police in London is now ratcheting up their use of lethal force. We must be succeeding."
posted by betaray at 1:05 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr_Johnson : "Tell me that when they waste a blonde, blue eyed potential terrorist who jumps a turnstyle and runs."

Ok, I'll tell you then too.
posted by Bugbread at 1:05 PM on July 23, 2005


As a white guy, if all the other variables were the same I'd expect to get shot

Though as a 'white guy' I expect your encounters with police have often been less than contentious.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:06 PM on July 23, 2005


Ok, I'll tell you then too

(crickets...)
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:07 PM on July 23, 2005


Let's try to not make them into heroes for other potential crazy people. Let's let them blow themselves up in anonymity.

Unfortunately this is not solution that would ever be accepted politically. I'm sure you're going to post some long screed that eviscerates me, but the truth is that we're not going to end this by being more violent.


actually, that is a consistent, logical, and moral position that I have a lot of sympathy for. Eg. I don't have any great expectations that Afghanistan will turn out for the better... people trying to resolve issues with violence just make the situation worse.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:07 PM on July 23, 2005


No, you're right Johnson. When I lived on Capital Hill in DC I "might" have done a few things that should have gotten me in trouble, but because I was white, in a German sedan and a Brooks Brother suit I got a pass from the cops.

But when a cop says stop you have to stop.
posted by webranding at 1:09 PM on July 23, 2005


betaray : "How about, 'Ah, the police in London is now ratcheting up their use of lethal force. We must be succeeding.'"

Good point. I think if this type of thing were to be continued, that that might indeed satisfy one of the terrorist victory conditions. I'm not sure that a single victim would be enough that they'd consider it a total victory, though.

Perhaps I give the terrorists more credit than they're due, or perhaps I've been soured by some silly American post 9/11 rhetoric, but the "if we change anything we do, the terrorists have won" argument just sounds incredibly silly. Specific arguments (like "If our police ratchet up their use of lethal force, the terrorists are making advances towards victory") strike me as far more worthy of serious consideration.
posted by Bugbread at 1:09 PM on July 23, 2005


Israelization
posted by Tlogmer at 1:09 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr_Johnson : "(crickets...)"

Ah. You meant to say "Don't tell me that until they waste a blonde, blue eyed potential terrorist who jumps a turnstyle and runs", I gather?
posted by Bugbread at 1:10 PM on July 23, 2005


The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Seems kinda stupid to go to a foreign country, not learn the basic language, and run from uniformed officials.
What happened in Great Britain is exactly what would happen in Mexico, Russia, Spain, and many other civililized countries.
We of the USA have controlled our redneck Christian population. The same needs to be done by the Islaam communities for it's redneck Muslims.
posted by buzzman at 1:11 PM on July 23, 2005


people trying to resolve issues with violence just make the situation worse.

Yes but what would we do without the illusion of safety that comes from long lines at airports, National Guardsmen in the T, and 'random' searches? Come on, I need that illusion of safety! It lets me know that something is being done, even if it is utterly ineffective.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:11 PM on July 23, 2005


Or better yet, "We are getting all this attention. Our message is being spread! Let us continue!"

I don't have any idea what their message is either, but we need not encourage this outlet of expression.
posted by betaray at 1:11 PM on July 23, 2005


We could cut down on many, many, MANY infringements of civil liberties and make everyone safer to boot with a simple rule; if someone searches you for evidence of terrorism, the only evidence that they can use against you is a WMD.

I'm really glad that someone said this. Unfortunately... (operant quote: Those caught carrying drugs or other contraband could be arrested.)
posted by dreamsign at 1:11 PM on July 23, 2005


We of the USA have controlled our redneck Christian population.

You have?
posted by dreamsign at 1:12 PM on July 23, 2005


from the other thread, and worth repeating: bugbread: what's horrific and ominous for a democratic state isn't just the fact that a person who was (by all accounts now) innocent was executed publically "by mistake". It's that allowing the Police to shoot pretty much at will against anybody they might consider suspicious, was deemed by the British government to be the appropriate response to the 7/7 bombings.

That this is exactly the kind of response the bombers were praying for
(because raising social tension and discrimination serve as excellent recruiters for the fundamentalists), didn't seem to have crossed anyone's mind. Rather they were detrmined to take advantage of the bombing to push through their draconian surveillance society agenda (which they are keen on exporting to the rest of the EU), regardless of any analysis or, indeed common sense.
...
posted by amberglow at 1:14 PM on July 23, 2005


change our way of life to something less acceptable to all of of us, isn't that a total victory for the terrorists?" -- betaray

"if we change anything we do, the terrorists have won" -- ???
posted by betaray at 1:16 PM on July 23, 2005


but the "if we change anything we do, the terrorists have won" argument just sounds incredibly silly.

I agree, in part because the rhetoric of 'winning and losing seems misplaced, and in part because it sounds so damned silly. But I think if one were to have a consistent criterion on this point, it could be something like: If our response to these acts is to transform in large ways what is effectively an 'open society' into a 'closed society' (assuming this constitutes a transformation we find disagreeable), then the changes are probably for the worse and the terrorists are 'winning.' Of course, this hinges on what we think an open society is, and in the last couple of years I have realized that there is a lot of disagreement on this point.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:16 PM on July 23, 2005


We of the USA have controlled our redneck Christian population.

Whoops, it looked like you typed "have controlled" when you meant to type "are controlled by."
posted by rafter at 1:18 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr_Johnson: Tell me that when they waste a blonde, blue eyed potential terrorist who jumps a turnstyle and runs.
When the Baader-Meinhof Gang reemerges and sets off multiple bombs on the London transportation system, blonde blue-eyed elopers will be more likely to be considered potential terrorists than perhaps they are now. This is a matter of heuristics, not racism.
posted by found missing at 1:18 PM on July 23, 2005


This blonde, blue-eyed shit has to go. Give me a god damn break, if you want people to be objective, why don't we look up the physical characteristics of all the suicide bombers of the past, and use THAT as our guide - I don't believe you'll be getting too many blonde, blue-eyed folks in that lineup, mainly because the current threat originates from extremist muslim sects, which are mostly made up of people whose skin, believe it or not, is dark. Chances the next bomber will have dark skin? High! Nothing racist about it - this is a matter of simple observation! And if your insistence that we search randomly instead of with direction gets somebody, or say maybe an entire tube train KILLED, this discussion will no longer be academic!

When it comes to spotting nazis, I'm with you on blonde and blue eyed all the way, even though that puts my blonde, blue-eyed ass right in the line of fire. When the nazi terrorist threat comes about I'll face the persecution my visage is due, but while the perpetrators of mass murder are predominantly darker in complexion, I'll thank the police to take that into account!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:18 PM on July 23, 2005


We've had more blond, blue-eyed (or other white) killers/bombers here in America--McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, neo-Nazis killing people...
posted by amberglow at 1:21 PM on July 23, 2005


Chances the next bomber will have dark skin? High! Nothing racist about it - this is a matter of simple observation!

This is indeed the rationale behind racial profiling of all sorts, of course. It is interesting to me that the reasoned arguments opposing preemptive measures of this sort fly out the window when terrorism is involved. I am curious what your position is concerning profiling in other contexts, or has terror simply rendered it acceptable across the board?
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:23 PM on July 23, 2005


there is a simple solution to the problem of police shootings of civilians ... if the civilian can be demonstrated to have had a deadly weapon, well and good ... if the civilian doesn't have one, the officer(s) who shot him is fired and barred from police work for life ... minimum

as far as i'm concerned if a cop isn't willing to put his job on the line when he makes a decision like that, he shouldn't be a cop
posted by pyramid termite at 1:24 PM on July 23, 2005


We've had more blond, blue-eyed (or other white) killers/bombers here in America--McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, neo-Nazis killing people

Of course it is staggering how quickly that has been forgotten. Not even any of the inflated anti-terrorist rhetoric in the face of the abortion clinic bombing sentence last week.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2005


baphomet:
>Even if they weren't the police it would still be a lot more likely that they'd shoot you if you ran away- after all, if they just wanted to shoot you, why would they draw your attention by shouting at you?

This is such utter fantasy bullshit.

Thugs, gangbangers, and other assorted lowlifes can't be counted on to act so "professionally" towards their prey. Hell, some actually get a kick out of seeing the expression on their victim's faces. If you're dealing with street thugs and are fortunate enough to have some distance between you and them, then the safest thing to do is get away and out of their sight immediately. Not freeze up like a deer in headlights.

>Running from somebody with a gun drawn on you is just asking to be shot. If you stay still, at least you might survive the initial encounter.

You can't count on criminals to not shoot you just because you had the courtesy to freeze at their request.
posted by PsychoKick at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2005


And, as Hogshead mentioned above, there have been past incidents with this bunch of cops. Cops can be criminals and thugs too.
posted by amberglow at 1:32 PM on July 23, 2005


When people are committing crimes across the global all share the same traits, as a person said before that is observation.
posted by webranding at 1:33 PM on July 23, 2005


Chances the next bomber will have dark skin? High!

We've had more blond, blue-eyed (or other white) killers/bombers here in America--McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Eric Rudolph, neo-Nazis killing people.


No one has "quickly ... forgotten" that second fact. But, I'm astonished, staggered even, that you can't see that the second statement does not make the first statement incorrect in any way.
posted by found missing at 1:33 PM on July 23, 2005


Amberglow "from the other thread, and worth repeating:"

Er, ok, my response moved back here, then:

talos : "It's that allowing the Police to shoot pretty much at will against anybody they might consider suspicious, was deemed by the British government to be the appropriate response to the 7/7 bombings."

Is that, however, the case? The fact that the shooting happened after the turnstile, not before it, indicates that they were likely to have been operating with some sort of threshold of suspicion: i.e. that the government isn't allowing the Police to shoot pretty much at will against anybody they might consider suspicious, but that they're allowing the Police to shoot at anybody that they consider suspicious under certain specific conditions.

Taking the situation to further extremes may help clarify what I'm saying: If a policeman sees a person holding a gun, pointed at some random person, saying "when I count to three, you're getting a bullet in the head", I believe the policeman is justified in shooting them. The fact that the gun might be empty or might be a replica or might be full of blanks does not result in it being true that the government allows the Police to shoot pretty much at will anybody they might consider suspicious.

Or, rephrased: it would appear that the government's permission for Police to shoot at people they believe suspicious hasn't changed, the only change has been in which conditions are considered sufficiently suspicious, and which aren't.

betaray : "change our way of life to something less acceptable to all of of us, isn't that a total victory for the terrorists?' -- betaray

"'if we change anything we do, the terrorists have won' -- ???"


I should have added explanation, I guess. Let's say it takes 20 minutes for me to get to work. That's acceptable. Let's say they change security procedure so that it takes an extra minute. 21 minutes is still acceptable, but is somewhat less acceptable. I don't think extending my commuting time by a minute is a total victory for the terrorists. Yes, it's a flippant example, but I have heard people make pretty similar "this is less acceptable to us, so the terrorists have won" arguments. I realize that may not be your opinion, but there are a lot of people who actually do think things like that, so I was just trying to be complete. There are certain changes in our way of life that are less acceptable to us that I'm sure the terrorists don't care about, some that they consider an inroad, some that they consider a minor victory, some that they consider a major victory, and some that they consider total victory, but I don't believe changing our way of life to something less acceptable to us in and of itself is total victory for the terrorists, any more than I believe any shape is a square.

Dr_Johnson : "If our response to these acts is to transform in large ways what is effectively an 'open society' into a 'closed society' (assuming this constitutes a transformation we find disagreeable), then the changes are probably for the worse and the terrorists are 'winning.'"

That's much closer to the way I think of it, but I still have a bit of a problem (far less), which is the idea that any loss to us is a victory to the terrorists, and vice versa. I don't believe that's true. There are loss-loss situations, there are neutral-neutral situations, there are loss-neutral, etc. etc. If our society changes from 'open' to 'closed' (and I agree that's disagreeable), I would agree that we are losing, but as for whether the terrorists are winning, that's another matter.
posted by Bugbread at 1:35 PM on July 23, 2005


It's not that some security thing takes an extra minute, it's the invasion of privacy, added unnecessary fear/aggravation/etc, and further restriction of what was in the past an unhindered process in an open society. We're losing whether the terrorists are happy/pleases/satisfied with what the govt. does or not.
posted by amberglow at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2005


PsychoKick: You can't count on criminals to not shoot you just because you had the courtesy to freeze at their request.

But you CAN count on them shooting you if you try to run. You take your chances and I'll take mine. Killing somebody is messy business, and it's not something your typical thug wants to get messed up with without a good reason.

If my comment was "fantasy bullshit" for imagining that somebody who wanted to kill you would not want to draw your attention before doing so, then yours is also fantasy bullshit for imagining that petty criminals are malicious, malevolent psychopaths who feed on pain, torture, and suffering. While I'm certain those types exist, most of them probably just want your money and to get away with as little police involvement as possible- which is pretty difficult if you splatter somebody's brains on the pavement.
posted by baphomet at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2005


It is interesting to me that the reasoned arguments opposing preemptive measures of this sort fly out the window when terrorism is involved.

What are these reasoned arguments? Are they written very small under your objection? Did you hear my reasoned arguments for these things, or did they fly out the window when I said them? Anyhow, I'm talking about suicide bombers here, and I don't see you quoting the names of the last 50 suicide bombers who attacked U.S. troops and civilians in Iraq and Israel (not that I'm defending the war, just to pre-empt you all in case) Now the jihad is moving closer to home, we have 2 bombings in 2 weeks and you guys want to talk about militia leaders from 10 years ago. Terror is the topic, and the terrorist demographic for these acts are the rationale for profiling. If we're talking about jaywalking, or corporate crime, or coke smuggling, or whatever else, you've got a whole other world of data.

And psychokick - are you blaming the police for not assuming that the guy running had assumed that they were thugs randomly trying to kill him? Cause that's pretty far-fetched.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:42 PM on July 23, 2005


gsh and webranding, like a few people earlier, have nailed it. The guy was innocent, but, no matter what color his skin, he ran from the police, jumped a turnstile and tried to get onto a train right after the 7/7 bombings. To all outward appearances, he looked like he was about to kill a lot of people.
posted by dazed_one at 1:45 PM on July 23, 2005


I'm suprised he only got shot five times. That's five scared cops, each shooting once, all at the same time.

Almost every time there's a headline reading "Man shot 35 times by police" it means that there were a whole bunch of cops, all shooting once or twice, within milliseconds of each other.

It doesn't matter how many times he was shot, the ratio of cops/shots is what matters when considering the overuse of force.
posted by blasdelf at 1:47 PM on July 23, 2005


amberglow : "We're losing whether the terrorists are happy/pleases/satisfied with what the govt. does or not."

Hear hear. That's the way I like 'em phrased!! The question is not "If we do X, then the terrorists have won", but "If we do X, then we've lost".

Maybe the whole "side A loses = side B wins" things comes from people watching too much sport?
posted by Bugbread at 1:50 PM on July 23, 2005


Just for info blasdelf, one of the early eyewitness reports on BBC News was quite specific about two men (I think - my lack of recollection not the witness) tripping/pinning down the suspect, and one man with a handgun shooting five times.
posted by klaatu at 1:51 PM on July 23, 2005


there is a simple solution to the problem of police shootings of civilians ... if the civilian can be demonstrated to have had a deadly weapon, well and good ... if the civilian doesn't have one, the officer(s) who shot him is fired and barred from police work for life ... minimum

I'm sorry, but this just doesn't work, and this situation is a perfect example of why. This guy didn't have a gun, or any explosives, but in the situation he gave every indication of being a serious and direct danger to his surroundings and to society. The cop who shot him did the right thing..an unfortunate thing to be sure, but in the end the right thing. So does that mean he should lose his job because the guy he shot didn't have a gun? I hope you were joking.

gsh totally nailed it, too. And PsychoKick, your argument really just doesn't bear out. Mine makes some assumptions, to be sure, but yours is operating in a different reality.
posted by baphomet at 1:52 PM on July 23, 2005


The only people who lost here are the man who was killed and his family, as well as the police officers and their families. And no one won.
posted by webranding at 1:54 PM on July 23, 2005


And of course baphomet's argument applies at the macro governmental level as well, unfortunately...
posted by klaatu at 1:57 PM on July 23, 2005


So does that mean he should lose his job because the guy he shot didn't have a gun? I hope you were joking.

i'm deadly serious ... if you think we can sacrifice a man's life because he's a supposed terrorist, i don't see why a cop can't sacrifice his career when he makes a horrible mistake

there are good reasons for this ... 1) all segments of society will know that the government takes the issue of police shootings of civilians seriously

2) cops will be much more cautious and careful about how they handle these situations

or would you rather this kind of thing just go on until there's a major riot over it?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:57 PM on July 23, 2005


The guy was innocent, but, no matter what color his skin, he ran from the police,

that's what they used to say in the south, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:59 PM on July 23, 2005


pyramid termite : "if you think we can sacrifice a man's life because he's a supposed terrorist, i don't see why a cop can't sacrifice his career when he makes a horrible mistake"

It just seems like it's expanding the scope of injured parties. Punishing someone for negligence is one thing, punishing someone for something they cannot know just seems like misplaced spite or revenge.
posted by Bugbread at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2005


Punishing police for not being clairvoyant, as it were.
posted by Bugbread at 2:02 PM on July 23, 2005


that's what they used to say in the south, isn't it?

Congratulations for saying the most fucking idiotic thing in this thread.
posted by found missing at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2005


My understanding is the the UK police have publicly acknowledged shoot-to-kill policy directed against suspected suicide bombers. Therefore if anyone should be head accountable it should be up the chain of command, not those on the front lines.
posted by webranding at 2:06 PM on July 23, 2005


Punishing police for their deadly mistake is what it is, and it's routinely done here whenever an incident like this happens. As for higherups, if the cops were clearly told to shoot to kill under all circumstances involving transit and suspicious characters, then they need to rethink that policy.
posted by amberglow at 2:18 PM on July 23, 2005


i don't see why a cop can't sacrifice his career when he makes a horrible mistake
Except he didn't make a mistake, the moron who decided on the very day after four bombs nearly went off to run from armed policemen into a tube station and attempt to leap over a turnstile right into a train did. This guy was begging to get himself killed by acting the way he did, when he did, and the policemen who took him out actually deserve a commendation in my view.
posted by Goedel at 2:23 PM on July 23, 2005


What are these reasoned arguments?

How about here, here, and here, to offer a few scholarly critiques of profiling more generally. In my view, these critiques should apply to equally to terrorism policing- I'm not sure we should see terrorism as qualitatively different from other crime, though it is a crime that takes place on a larger scale and with more complex motivations.

The question of whether such profiling is racist depends in large measure on what you think the definition of racism is. Profiling often leads to racist outcomes (in the form of disparities in traffic stoppages, etc.), even if the intent is not racist. The same might be said to apply in this case to a lesser degree. I don't believe that the intent of the officers was racist. Was the outcome? This seems a little more likely, though by no means certain (given the exacerbating circumstances).
posted by Dr_Johnson at 2:24 PM on July 23, 2005


1. Why was he running from police who identified themselves as being armed.

2. Under what circumstances did plain clothed police officers come to suspect he was a terrorist and start to follow him.

3. The guy knew, as all Londoners know, that since July 7th the city has been crawling with armed uniformed and plain clothed police officers as well as unmarked police cars zooming all round the place. So shouldn't he have realised the seriousness of the matter when the police identified themselves and just give himself up? Even more so because this incident happened just a day after four men tried to mount a second wave of attacks on the Underground and somehow managed to escape. So therefore there were four known terrorists on the run.

I have to say its a sad situation but to say the police officers involved should loose their jobs is plainly rediculous. This is a very serious matter and police officers are all under a great amount of pressure to stop these bastards from hitting us again. As a Londoner I would like to say that they have my full support for what they are doing.
posted by Po0py at 2:27 PM on July 23, 2005


My friend in SO19 gave this little statement today "Guys get real. You are laying on top of what you believe is a man going to blow you to pieces. How many times you going to shoot? And yes, it was an SO19 Team. The 'rules' haven't been changed, they still shoot for the biggest area BUT if that area is possibly under a bomb, then head shots are the only option."

Sorry that an innocent man died, but running from several men shouting "Stop! Armed Police!" is never the best thing to do. I am sure there will be more 20-20 hindsight as usual but I come down on the side of the police and their fears for public safety. Disagree with me if you will, it's your right, but I am comfortable that the cops did what they should have in the circumstances.
posted by longbaugh at 2:27 PM on July 23, 2005


As for higherups, if the cops were clearly told to shoot to kill under all circumstances involving transit and suspicious characters, then they need to rethink that policy.
Easy for you to say, not having to ride the tube or the buses to work and back every day; pardon me for not rushing to condemn those who are doing their best to ensure my journeys don't end up with my body parts strewn all over a carriage someday ...
posted by Goedel at 2:27 PM on July 23, 2005


Wow. This is bad. All the initial reports were garbled and flat wrong. The police earlier said the man was followed from a surveilled location.

The cops made a hard call in an ambiguous situation with tragic results. Then they lied about it. Or bogus statements were reported as well-sourced.

This also explains the garbles and misinformation getting worse and worse before the clarification was issued.

There's no won or lost here, except tactically. The conflict goes on until it's over. It's going to be a long nasty business and there's going to be more incidents like this, as there already have been incidents this bad and some very much worse.

There has to be an inquest and God help anybody that screws it up. There also has to be a review of training and the rules of engagement. Not necessarily changes, but definitely a review and that review has to be carried out in training, policy and practice.

This is really really really bad. And things are going to continue to be bad until this conflict is over.
posted by warbaby at 2:28 PM on July 23, 2005


I have to ask a couple things here.

1) What ever happened to reasonable force?
(not sure if they have this in the UK)

2) If they were so concerned with him why didn't they just detain him from the beginning?

3) If they were so worried about him having a bomb then why did they pile on top of him?

4) What Klaatu, Amberglow, and Hogshead said. Yes, shooting a bomb could detonate it. The bullet could hit the detonator/blasting cap and set it off or cause a short in the electronics/electrical trigger etc. This is partially why bomb robots have shotguns on them.
posted by fenrir at 2:28 PM on July 23, 2005


A single policeman 'unloaded' 5 bullets into this man's body. So they thought he might have explosives concealed in his jacket... then why fire at his body?!

wouldn't a bullet detonate the bomb?
posted by verisimilitude at 2:30 PM on July 23, 2005


sorry, old ground.
posted by verisimilitude at 2:30 PM on July 23, 2005


The Monday Morning Quarterbacking on issues like this amaze me. It is so easy for us to reflect now, sitting in our living rooms with a cup of tea (iced coffee for me) and say, "well this is what should have happened."

They thought the guy was a threat on multiple levels and they dealt with him. Good for them. I was always taught my actions have direct consequences. The police didn't make this happen, the poor chap that ran from them and tried to board a train did.
posted by webranding at 2:37 PM on July 23, 2005


The shot him in the head.
posted by Po0py at 2:38 PM on July 23, 2005


Why did the young man in London run? Here is a true story. Just happened.

My husband and I are tutoring a young man every Saturday for two hours. A young man who is almost a doppleganger for the young man shot in London. Let's call our young man "K."

K lives in a youth group home because his mother (who was 15 when he was born) just lost custody of her children, including K. K is 17. Next year he will be able to leave the group home and work and have an apartment (which he looks forward to) while he (we all hope) attends college.

K is very smart, but must work around a few minor learning disabilities. K is very cooperative and patient with everyone, but especially with those who listen to him, and care about him. He has in the past mentored younger skateboarders as part of teams for professional organizations. His living situation with his young mother has such as it has been, but he has been cheerful and honest throughout.

We have just started tutoring K, and last week was our first session: 1 hour Algebra, 1 hour Humanities.

An hour ago we received a phone call from a distraught K.

He said that he cannot come over today for tutoring. Last week he confused the group home instructions. The group home wanted him to see a psychiatrist last week, then alternate seeing the psychiatrist with tutoring each Saturday.

He cried and said he was just going to grab his books (in his rucksack) and run away...to us...to study. K said he was going to put down the phone and "bolt, and jump past the guard."

Because they were wrong.

That is how he thought things get setteled. Because K is 17.

Of course we told K that if he did that, the group home would end all tutoring. We advised him to see the psychiatrist this week and then he will see us again for studies next Saturday.

Why didn't our young man in London stop?

Maybe because he thought stopping was wrong.

And, why at all blame the victim in this particular case, considering what a youth might fear in the atmosphere London is experiencing since the bombings?

The young man in London shouldn't have had a rucksack, perhaps of books to study because he's of Middle Eastern extraction?

The young man in London shouldn't have worn an overly-warm jacket,even if it's his fave fashion, because he's of Middle Eastern extraction?

The young man in London shouldn't have had a rucksack, perhaps of books to study because he's of Middle Eastern extraction?

The young man in London should have had acted different from a Cockney kid because he comes from a "suspicious" neighborhood, one filled with folk of Middle Eastern extraction? Where he lived perhaps because that's where his famly live?

Why not only bring the professionals to task on this one: the London Metro Police? Not "blame"...just bring to task.

We can work to solve the problems with professionals and their methodology...I don't know we've got solution one regarding kids and authority that would work around the globe in a blanket fashion via magic wand.

Authoritarian apologists...none among you knowing a thing about kids and their instant reaction to authority? Or, just not forgiving a kid that's not Anglo-Saxon who acts as any of many kids would do, and ends up dead because of it?

After this afternoon's phone call, I think our dear K would have also run. I think our dear K would have also been shot dead on a bleak hot lonely afternoon in the tragic killing grounds of the London Underground.
posted by Dunvegan at 2:38 PM on July 23, 2005


Easy for you to say, not having to ride the tube or the buses to work and back every day;
I do ride the subway and bus every single day, and the fact that our transit system hasn't been attacked yet--and it most certainly will be--in no way mitigates the mistake these cops made.

Excellent excellent questions, fenrir--if they were following him all along, why even let him get near a subway station at all? If they thought he had a bomb, it's far safer not to let him get that far.
posted by amberglow at 2:41 PM on July 23, 2005


thanks for that Dun--i'm glad that kid has people like you around.
posted by amberglow at 2:43 PM on July 23, 2005


Great shame about the Brazilian guy, poor chap, - although jumping over the tube barrier in these circumstances has to be very rash.

Mark Urban on Newsnight seemed to suggest that the unit might have been backed up with Special Forces blokes. They're likely to be a bit trigger happy.

In Tooting tonight I can hear a helicopter buzzing around, perhaps it is part of the Streatham Hill raid.
posted by laukf at 2:43 PM on July 23, 2005


"I feel nothing but sorrow for everyone involved. Sorrow for the dead guy, sorrow for his relatives and friends, sorrow for the cops. All those people living in fear."

Leftcoastbob summed it up pretty well.
posted by dhoyt at 2:44 PM on July 23, 2005


amberglow : "Punishing police for their deadly mistake is what it is"

Exactly. Punishing someone not for a failing, but for being wrong. Paying someone to guess what number comes up on a die, and punishing them for being wrong. Punishing someone not for doing something wrong, but being wrong about something they would have no way to know.

warbaby : "The police earlier said the man was followed from a surveilled location."

Has that been redacted? Can you link me up? (I'm not disbelieving, it's a sincere question and sincere request for a linkup)

fenrir : "1) What ever happened to reasonable force?
"(not sure if they have this in the UK)

"2) If they were so concerned with him why didn't they just detain him from the beginning?

"3) If they were so worried about him having a bomb then why did they pile on top of him?

"4) What Klaatu, Amberglow, and Hogshead said. Yes, shooting a bomb could detonate it. The bullet could hit the detonator/blasting cap and set it off or cause a short in the electronics/electrical trigger etc. This is partially why bomb robots have shotguns on them."


I can take a layman's shot at some of those.

1) One definition of reasonable force is "Force necessary to achieve a legal goal without endangering innocent citizens" While I suspect that we're both operating with the addition "and minimal harm to the person being apprehended", it doesn't seem like the force used here was unreasonable. If someone is armed with an explosive, the minimal amount of force needed to reduce the threat (unless they're using a dead-man trigger) is lack of consciousness (be it passing out, coma, death, sleep, etc.). The only really fast way to make someone stop being conscious is death. If you have a few more minutes, a chokehold that forces them into unconsciousness, or the equivalent, would also work. In a standoff condition, you could just wait until the person is so sleep deprived that they conk out, use sleeping gas, etc. So the direct answer to your question might be "nothing happened to reasonable force".

2) Very good question. I have no answer for that. One possibility, but it's nothing more than a hypothetical construct, is that they weren't as concerned with him at the start, and that his increasing proximity to the tube increased their concern, culminating with his jumping the turnstile. We're talking about a span of time, so while it's true that they were very concerned with him, it isn't necessarily true that they were equally concerned with him throughtout the entire process.

3) Presumably to immobilize him and reduce his ability to trigger to bomb?

4) True, and it should be noted that they did not fire at his torso, nor from any distance, so it appears they did take this into account.
posted by Bugbread at 2:45 PM on July 23, 2005


I do ride the subway and bus every single day, and the fact that our transit system hasn't been attacked yet--and it most certainly will be--in no way mitigates the mistake these cops made.
No, it explains quite well why you insist on calling what they did a "mistake." Your life isn't on the line as far as you know, so I'm less than impressed by your rush to judge these policemen for acting as they did in such a volatile situation, as you don't have to live with the possible consequences of police timidity stemming from judgmental opinions like yours.
posted by Goedel at 2:45 PM on July 23, 2005


Dun... white, asian, african, middle eastern, eskimo, yeti or fucking yak they would have shot the guy for his actions - regardless of the color of his skin.

Hate to say it, but if the police didn't shoot the guy and he let a bomb off, everyone would be calling for their heads.

It's tragic that the man didn't have anything to do with the events. But when they say stop... fucking stop.

Authoritarian apologists? Are you serious? Laff. Please.

And I'm a liberal. Wow.
posted by AspectRatio at 2:52 PM on July 23, 2005


My life is on the line, as are the 4.5 million others who take the subway each day here.

You actually are less likely to be attacked again, given the increased police activity and attention now given to the London system, as opposed to our theatrical attempts at providing the illusion of security with bag checks. It's like when they say the safest time to fly is right after an incident.
posted by amberglow at 2:53 PM on July 23, 2005


Yeah. i knew this was trigger happy paranoia at it's worse when i first saw it posted here on metafilter. They should just frisking everyone who gets on and off the tube. it would create more jobs, at least. I would consent to it.
posted by Livewire Confusion at 2:54 PM on July 23, 2005


The British police have actually been ordered to shoot to kill in these occasions, towards the heads because a bomb might be concealed. As for what these cops could have done better, they could have restrained him, quickly checked to see if he had a bomb, then taken him in and questioned him. They could have held his hands down instead of shooting him, ensuring he could not activate any concealed bomb.
I suspect these cops forgot to take a grain of salt with their briefings.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2005


Your life isn't on the line as far as you know

It is as much on the line as your life, I am sure.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2005


If they were tailing him and thought he was a threat, they should not even have let him get near a subway station, let alone inside. That was just their first mistake.
posted by amberglow at 2:55 PM on July 23, 2005


yeti or fucking yak

I have a suspicion there response would be much less predictable under these two circumstances.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 2:56 PM on July 23, 2005


Dunvegan : "The young man in London shouldn't have...?

"The young man in London shouldn't have...?

"The young man in London shouldn't have...?

"The young man in London should have...?"


Er, no, a lot of people are saying "The young man shouldn't have ignored police orders to stop, and shouldn't have jumped the turnstile". Does it mean he deserved to die? Some say yes, some say no (I say no). But there are situations where it isn't always true that "Party A didn't deserve bad thing B to happen to them, so party C is to blame". Sometimes no-one is to blame (but don't tell the lawyers that), sometimes all are to blame, sometimes the blame is distributed in various sized clumps.
posted by Bugbread at 2:56 PM on July 23, 2005


Yes it is difficult not to pre-judge the police here.

Security is ethnically sensitive and our police dont have a good track record. Especially as it is well know they are institutionally racist.
posted by verisimilitude at 2:57 PM on July 23, 2005


If the ultimate effect of these suicide bombs is to cause british people to wear skin-tight body suits (especialy the hot ones) then I have to say it might not all be bad to let the terrorists win.
posted by delmoi at 3:03 PM on July 23, 2005


Thanks for the post. Clearly this is incredibly worrying, to the point of being almost unbelievable. Let me apologise to those in the previous thread that I thought were being extremely unrealistic when asserting that the guy was possibly innocent. Perhaps there's more to this, perhaps there isn't, but clearly my idea of informed speculation isn't what it should be.

:(
posted by nthdegx at 3:03 PM on July 23, 2005


institutionally racist

As I was hinting at earlier, though people cannot be institutionally racist, only institutions or circumstances resulting from those institutions. I have no doubt that some of the outcomes of our response to terrorism since 2001 have been institutionally racist. Many people have also become outright racist. This appears less likely here (overzealous perhaps, racist, no), but the de facto profiling that goes on now certainly makes it difficult to have a specific physiognomy.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 3:04 PM on July 23, 2005


I'm throwing my lot in with those that think it's awfully regrettable that the guy got shot, but given the facts and his behavior, I'd rather have the police err on the side of caution. I can't imagine how badly they would feel if they let him onto a train, it blew up, and killed scores more people. "Ooops?" just wouldn't cut it.

Well, if the probability was less then 1/n where n is the number of people killed in a bombing (probably like 3 or 4 for a bagless bombing) then killing him is a net negative loss of life.
posted by delmoi at 3:05 PM on July 23, 2005


You know, if it was daytime, in a very crowded place, and I was living in London where handguns are supposedly very difficult to obtain, and I saw 20 guys with handguns waving them around and saying "Stop, this is the Police", or even just "Stop" in this very crowded public place, I would have to assume they were the Police and I would stop.

And on another note, what do suicide bombers do when they are confronted? They run to a crowded place to detonate as quickly as possible to score more. Seriously, doesn't anyone remember Kaboom?
posted by cyphill at 3:12 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood stated earlier that there was a very non-zero chance that this guy was carrying an explosive. Does that suggest one percent of every suspicious looking character who runs from people with guns who call themselves police has a bomb? No. Not even in London, and not even if that suspicious person looks Arab. And even if it was 1%, that still would not be enough to cast a death sentence for suspicious looking people who run from the police.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:13 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr Johnson: your right, of course individuals cannot be institutionally racist. But we are talking about perceptions here. And the perception is that the police are institutionally racist, therefore every member within the institution is perceived to be racist.

So in the context of this perception, any extension of the police's powers in this ethnically charged scenario is completely untenable.
posted by verisimilitude at 3:15 PM on July 23, 2005


Cyphill, when I was in elementary school I was chased by a middle-schooler on a bike; and I would always run towards other people, because I naturally thought he wouldn't attack me in front of other people. The man probably didn't realize he was runing from the police, but gangsters, who wouldn't be so brash as to shoot him in front of hundreds of witnesses.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:16 PM on July 23, 2005


What does "Britain says" mean, do you think? Did I miss a vote?
posted by nthdegx at 3:17 PM on July 23, 2005


What does "Britain says" mean, do you think?

Good old NYT copy strikes again.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 3:20 PM on July 23, 2005


I hate to say this, but in the spirit of being thankful for small mercies: thank goodness he was not an Asian man and most of all not a Muslim.
posted by funambulist at 3:20 PM on July 23, 2005


The scary part about all this is that if it had happened in the United States, there'd be no follow-up.
posted by wakko at 3:24 PM on July 23, 2005


It is within the realm of assumption that he would be able to understand "police" and "stop". But he jumped a fucking turnstile and kept running which does make him very, very stupid.

Or, perhaps, it's within the realm of assumption that the plain-clothes officers who killed him did not identify themselves as police. That would explain why he run.

(Besides, no matter how someone might have acted 'stupidly', if they did not commit any crime and yet end up killed by the police, the police are still fully responsible for that.)

What has not been explained so far is: even if he had been connected to the attacks and the police had had good reasons to supect he was involved, they were following him from the flat to the station, why not attempt to stop him before? like maybe just outside the flat? did they try that? The official statements don't specify.

Secondly: they threw him to the ground, wouldn't that be dangerous already if they thought he had a bomb on him?

I don't know, it just doesn't make sense, at least with the official explanations so far. It's true it is too early to pass judgement, yet this is so awful, there are such troubling questions and one can only hope the investigations will give some convincing answers.

Maybe it's all down to panic, but that's not such a comforting thought.
posted by funambulist at 3:25 PM on July 23, 2005


Exactly. Punishing someone not for a failing, but for being wrong.

welcome to the real world ... people are punished for being wrong all the time, in many circumstances ... they even get fired for it

why should cops be any different?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:28 PM on July 23, 2005


Just another casualty for the war on freedom terror.

It's not often you get to experience watershed moments in history, but something tells me this might be one.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:29 PM on July 23, 2005


Oh for Christ's sake. When hyperbole reigns, the terrorists have won.
posted by found missing at 3:32 PM on July 23, 2005


why not attempt to stop him before? like maybe just outside the flat? did they try that?

maybe I've read too many spy stories, but the point of an undercover investigation is to investigate, not arrest.

Secondly: they threw him to the ground, wouldn't that be dangerous already if they thought he had a bomb on him?

We don't know what happened exactly.

I don't know, it just doesn't make sense, at least with the official explanations so far. It's true it is too early to pass judgement

yet many people here are.
...

Maybe it's all down to panic

like this.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:34 PM on July 23, 2005


Just another casualty for the war on freedom terror

"The average man doesn't want to be free . . . He simply wants to be safe."

-H.L. Mencken

Sadly as true today as when it was originally expressed.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 3:34 PM on July 23, 2005


Citizen Premier : "Does that suggest one percent of every suspicious looking character who runs from people with guns who call themselves police has a bomb? No. Not even in London, and not even if that suspicious person looks Arab."

But what percent chance is it of every suspicious looking character who has come out of a house under surveillance for connection to previous failed terrorist attacks in the recent past whose perpetrators are still on the loose running from people with guns who call themselves police into a tube station in London? From this case, all we can clearly say as fact is that it isn't 100%. Anything past there is speculation, because our data set is far too small. I speculate that it's significantly greater than 1%, though.

funambulist : "Secondly: they threw him to the ground, wouldn't that be dangerous already if they thought he had a bomb on him? "

I would guess the answer is "yes, but not as dangerous as not throwing him to the ground (and therebody allowing increased arm and leg mobility)"

pyramid termite : "people are punished for being wrong all the time, in many circumstances ... they even get fired for it

"why should cops be any different?"


They shouldn't: other folks shouldn't be punished for things they aren't at fault for either. One would hope that you try to adjust things to to bring everyone up to the same level, not bring them down to the same level.
posted by Bugbread at 3:39 PM on July 23, 2005


You're visiting Rio.
You're walking down the street.
You realize that some suspicious looking guys are following you.
You speed up your walk, they speed up their walk.
You start to run.
The guys in STREET CLOTHES pull out guns and start yelling at you in Portuguese.
You run... and run... and run.
(bang)
posted by numlok at 3:40 PM on July 23, 2005


why at all blame the victim in this particular case

Perhaps this is my libertarian side showing, but IMV Stupidity gets its own reward. I wouldn't blame a truck-driver had this guy ran out suddenly into the middle of a busy street.

Same thing here. You say we need to take the popo's to task, but with the information we have now I don't see what needs to be changed, policy-wise.

I mean jesus, we've just had a repeat suicide/homicide bombing in that area.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:42 PM on July 23, 2005


numlok: the particular situations are different. If you're too dense to figure out why, then, well, I don't see why telling you why I think so would be worth the keystrokes.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:44 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: Yes, your obviously too smug to be bothered. Carry on.
posted by numlok at 3:49 PM on July 23, 2005


Yes we all want to be safe. And this is a stark example of why increasing the police's powers does not make us any safer.

There are ways of enhancing our security without allowing trigger happy cops to have a free for all. For example scrap the plans for forced redundancy of underground staff. There are others...

The state has caused these tragic problems, and they are not about to find some magical legislation that is going to make them go away.
posted by verisimilitude at 3:50 PM on July 23, 2005


I mean YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY too smug... Sorry about that.
posted by numlok at 3:50 PM on July 23, 2005


I lived in London for a while and never once saw a gun, not on a police officer, not anywhere. To compare the situation in Rio, where it appears that kidnapping for ransom is relatively commonplace, to London, is foolish The man lived in London for FOUR YEARS, yeah he might not be fluent in english but there are a few phrases that you pick up when you've lived somewhere for that period of time. I'm not going to pass judgement on this now, with all the cameras in the tube stations we should know more in time, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let people blame the police recklessly.
posted by cyphill at 3:51 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr. Johnson, I don't want this to get acrimonious, I never intended any bitterness. I looked over the articles you linked (read the intro and conclusions, skimmed the body) and it seems that they support me. I understand that... shall we say "unofficial"... profiling is a major problem in this and other countries (witness the Ohio Special N*gger Arrest Team), and I don't support it or institionalized racism. I support the idea that we should use empirical evidence to augment our search techniques or whatever, and your literature supports me on that - profiling "...can be justified as an effective law enforcement tool or, from a constitutional perspective, as a narrowly tailored policing technique that promotes a compelling governmental interest in law enforcement..." as long as it is applied objectively and carefully, and only where a significant racial factor actually exists. In the case of the current crop of terrorist attacks, I think we are justified in paying special attention to people of middle-eastern origin for this type of situation, since that seems to be where a large amount of the terrorists are coming from. That's all there is to it. I'm saying race should be applied, not mis-applied.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:54 PM on July 23, 2005


You're visiting Rio.
You're walking down the street.
You realize that some suspicious looking guys are following you.
You speed up your walk, they speed up their walk.
You start to run.
The guys in STREET CLOTHES pull out guns and start yelling at you in Portuguese.
You run... and run... and run,

for a good reason.
posted by shoos at 3:56 PM on July 23, 2005


You're visiting Metafilter.
You're reading thread.
You decide to add your two cents.
You post a stupid analogy.
Someone calls you on it.
You panic and attack back LIKE A CORNERED ANIMAL
You attack AGAIN
Run... run... run...!!!
posted by found missing at 3:56 PM on July 23, 2005


We don't know what happened exactly.

Which was my point, and that is why people have questions on the police actions.

By the way, I didn't actually "pass judgement" but it's a fact that the police screwed up and while there can be perfectly justifiable reasons why they acted like they did, until futher clarifications, I'd personally prefer people engage in too much questioning than none.
posted by funambulist at 3:57 PM on July 23, 2005


"If the particulars are still true, running from the police, wearing an anorak in mid-July, etc."

The police weren't uniformed officers in front of the man, telling him not to enter. They were plainclothed officers, vectored onto his location, running through the streets of London with guns. The victim apparently discovered that he was being chased, and started running away from them, apparently jumping a turnstile to get away. For all we know, he never even heard or clearly understood the warnings.

He ran into the subway car, tripping as he entered. Three of his pursuers were immediately on him, pinning him to the ground, before one of them fired five rounds point blank into the guy's head and torso.

"As he got onto the train I looked at his face, he looked sort of left and right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox. He looked absolutely petrified..."

No wonder.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:59 PM on July 23, 2005


The question of whether this guy was in the right or wrong is not worthy of debate.

It seems he was innocent of everything accept the minor offence of evading the police. So why bother trying to justify the police's incompetence. For god's sake even Scotland Yard have already said it is a tragedy.

the heart of police's reasoning for this lies in their judgment of the wider context of systematic terrorist attacks... and that is exactly what we should be discussing.
posted by verisimilitude at 4:01 PM on July 23, 2005


7/7 there were attacks. The day before this shooting there were more (although failed) attacks and those individuals are still at large. I would say the police were looking at this poor chap in the context of what was happening.
posted by webranding at 4:04 PM on July 23, 2005


As for it being too hot for a jacket, it was around 70 degrees. That's not particularly hot, especially when you figure in how unpredictable British weather can be and the fact that the weather could drop down in the 50's after work.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:07 PM on July 23, 2005


Goedel I'm less than impressed by your rush to judge these policemen for acting as they did in such a volatile situation

You're right. It's unhelpful to criticize policemen who made split-second decisions they thought were protecting civilian lives. It is important to criticize the policies and public attitudes on which their decision was based. And while I know it's not easy to judge the actions by their ends, the 'shoot any suspicious man near public transit' policy has now ended one more life than it has saved.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:08 PM on July 23, 2005


BTW: Anyone else read "Blink"?
There's a similar situation that is discussed/dissected in there.

While opening up the fact that I read that book will probably paint me in some new sort of "bad light", that is the source from which I was inspired to write the "flip side" argument.

And: Yes, yes, very clever counters.

Sorry for my simplistic analogy.

As for my "attack", I only really had one thing to say, after a VERY snarky and (I still stand by it) smug "call".

The second post was not meant as an additional attack, more a heading off the chance for digressing attacks on my grammar mistake (which is an all too common occurence here).
posted by numlok at 4:10 PM on July 23, 2005


<spelling nazi>

Did anyone else notice that the British actually escaped this tragedy? This didn't happen in Britain, it happened in "Britian"

Or at least that's what the NYT headline I'm looking at says...

</spelling nazi>
posted by rossmik at 4:11 PM on July 23, 2005


I would guess the answer is "yes, but not as dangerous as not throwing him to the ground (and therebody allowing increased arm and leg mobility)"

bugbread: true, but since they both threw him to the grown and shot him, I was thinking of "throwing to the ground someone you suspect is carrying explosive is more dangerous than shooting him straight in the head without even having to throw him to the ground". Perhaps I'm completely off, but reading on a BBC story comments from experts who spoke on the shot to the head (or legs) being the safest option, I assumed they were saying that was the best way to both immobilise and avoid contact which could trigger the explosives. I don't know, I'm just wondering. Still, the most puzzling question for me is why couldn't they stop him before.
At which point did he become suspicious? Only when he approached the station? But they'd been following him since he left a flat under surveillance. That's what I don't understand.
posted by funambulist at 4:11 PM on July 23, 2005


Weren't there published interview snippets stating that this poor guy had wires coming out of his clothing? Shows what these "eyewitness accounts" are worth.
posted by jamesonandwater at 4:12 PM on July 23, 2005


The victim apparently discovered that he was being chased
An egregious (and I suspect, intentional) misrepresentation of the facts; they asked him to come with them and then he broke into a run. But hey, why stick to the facts if an opportunity to make the police out in the worst possible light presents itself?
No wonder.
Yeah, because suicide bombers don't feel fear, ever; you've been watching too much 24, it would seem. Why did Thursday's bombers flee the scenes of their attacks, if what you're implying is true?
It seems he was innocent of everything accept the minor offence of evading the police.
Yes, it's a "minor" offence to be leaving a residence under surveillance for terrorist activity, to break into a run when confronted by plain-clothes officers, to run into the one place where any thinking person would expect a suicide bomber carrying a payload to go, and to ignore warning shots and jump over a turnstile to leap into a carriage. Why, it's hardly anything at all! Why on earth would the police regard a person acting in such a manner as a threat, an entire 24 hours after 4 suicide attacks failed - a veritable eternity!
posted by Goedel at 4:15 PM on July 23, 2005


I'm certainly not accusing you of promoting institutional racism, though I do think this is often an unintended consequence of profiling acts.

From the article in question:

"Racial profiling on the highways can be justified as an effective law enforcement tool or, from a constitutional perspective, as a narrowly tailored policing technique that promotes a compelling governmental interest in law enforcement if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) racial profiling has a long-term negative effect on the profiled crime, (2) while increasing the efficient allocation of police resources, (3) without producing a ratchet effect on the profiled population."

We can interrogate these stipulations wrt terrorism:

(1) Has the profiling in question led to a long term reduction in terrorism? The jury is still out on this, but profiling of this sort has been going on (in a piecemeal fashion) for four years and terrorism appears to be proceeding apace.

(2) increased efficiency of resource allocation: this is a little more likely, I suppose.

(3) Ratchet effect. I am most concerned about this one. Does profiling exacerbate future profiling or racist views of those of middle-eastern descent? There can be little doubt of this, though as the article points out, it applies equally to any criminal profiling (though the article also points out it can be particularly problematic in racial circumstances).

I actually included this article to be a little more even-handed, as it defends the constitutionality of the practice but also points out some of the problems with profiling run amok. My own view here is that unfortunately, profiling almost always violates one or all of these conditions, especially when it links up to certain cultural preconceptiosn about particular racial groups.

Also, the link of race to terror acts is not uniform. Recall that one of the bombers was of Jamaican Descent, and the Jose Padilla is currently rotting in detention for his alleged terror shenanigans.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 4:15 PM on July 23, 2005


As for it being too hot for a jacket, it was around 70 degrees

The anorak just makes killing the guy perhaps more justified, in that it was unknowable exactly what the guy was carrying on him due to the jacket's bulk, and of course suicide bombers in Palestine have employed bulky jackets to hide explosives.

backpack/anorak/baby carriage, it's a judgement call when we're talking about suicide bombers. If the guy also stood out of the crowd by his clothing choice that morning, then that's a material fact too.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:16 PM on July 23, 2005


I didn't actually "pass judgement"

"Maybe it's all down to panic"

is a judgement.

but it's a fact that the police screwed up

I dispute that "fact". In my writing here I have been clear to separate policy from act. Perhaps the policy is mistaken, and should be criticized, but the act of shooting suspicious folks in the London subway was not a mistake. It was a very possible outcome of the policy.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:19 PM on July 23, 2005


the 'shoot any suspicious man near public transit' policy
1 - Are you saying the police should never shoot suspicious people making a dash for public transit? That the benefit of the doubt should always be given to them, even with the knowledge that there are at least four terrorists out there waiting for the chance to try again?

2 - If you're trying to insinuate that trigger-happy police has declared open season on swarthy males or something, need this swarthy male remind you that this guy could have been shot a long time before he reached the station, and it isn't as if us darkies are being routinely accosted on the streets even after the last two weeks' events.
posted by Goedel at 4:20 PM on July 23, 2005


bugbread: From this case, all we can clearly say as fact is that it isn't 100% [that he had a bomb]. Anything past there is speculation, because our data set is far too small. I speculate that it's significantly greater than 1%, though.

AAARGH!!! Bugbread, your abuse of percentages has driven me to reply in this stupid thread, against my better judgement but I'm panic'd and terrified, by your nonsensical pronouncements. You're too clever to be writing this crap. It has not been reported why this apartment was under surveillance, how long the suspect stayed there, whether he'd been seen before, exactly what kind of jacket was he wearing, whether he gave the finger to the cops as they chased him, or what. In short, very few of the relevant facts are known, at least so far as they've been reported on this thread and in the articles it links to. It is absolutely ridiculous to think we know the answer.

So if given the choice between a 90% chance of death by running, or (lets be charitable) an 80% chance of death by surrendering, then, yes, I would still surrender.

Oh, good for you, noble citizen. You wouldn't run away, and you think there would be a 90% chance of death if you did. How very rational of you. Personally, if I were to take a wild guess at the numbers you give as 90% and 80%, I'd say 0.3% and 0.03%. But still, I suppose the principle is the same. Of course, you neglect to mention that running does have some benefit, in that you have at least some chance of getting away. Different people would weigh that choice differently, but still I guess it's probably true that the rational decision is, almost always, not to try and run away. Amazing, isn't it, that so many petty criminals still do try to run from law enforcement when they think they can get away with it. Its as though they hadn't bothered to calculate in advance the odds of getting away with it.

Bah. This thread is full of so much nonsense. And now I've added mine. Maybe it's an appropriate mirror of the situation we're talking about out there in the real world, which is all about chaos and confusion.
posted by sfenders at 4:21 PM on July 23, 2005


I've only been to the UK a couple times, so I don't have much experience with the police there. Just I can only assume they are as good as those in America, if not better. And in my experience 99.9999% of the police in American are wonderful public servants.

I am willing to bet, that outside of the chap who was killed family, those police officers are more sorry, upset, and sad then anyone else.
posted by webranding at 4:21 PM on July 23, 2005


Are you saying the police should never shoot suspicious people making a dash for public transit

I'm afraid I could qualify under that criterion, every other morning.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 4:22 PM on July 23, 2005


Webranding: lets not beat around the bush. The police were not just 'looking at this poor chap'; they were horrifically executing him.

For me this only confounds my sense that the police are not only impotent in the prevention of terrorism, but they themselves further the threat to innocent life.
posted by verisimilitude at 4:22 PM on July 23, 2005


For god's sake even Scotland Yard have already said it is a tragedy.

and there's going to be an investigation, so, all the people complaining that failing to brush this off as inevitable means "blaming the police", well, then the police are already "blaming" themselves...
posted by funambulist at 4:23 PM on July 23, 2005


"The police were not just 'looking at this poor chap'; they were horrifically executing him."

And that was the point of my post. I don't buy that for a second. not a second. And I think a lot of people here think just what you said but are being polite and civil.
posted by webranding at 4:25 PM on July 23, 2005


the link of race to terror acts is not uniform

and that's rather irrelevant given there is strong enough correlation between race/nationality and risk. Like I said above, coercing or duping people to become suicide bombers is easy enough such that profiling is not sufficient.

Whether it's necessary is a debatable point. I lived in Japan for 8 years so even as a white guy I got the wrong end of the profile occasionally (to some degree, much less than what could go on in today's climate), but on the whole I want the police to do the best job they can.

But it needs to be smart profiling, and given how the 9/11 hijackers cleaned up their appearance to sail through security, the cost/benefit balance of profiling is indeed somewhat dubious.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:27 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot - have you actually taken in the fact that an inquiry has been opened? here, literally:

The shooting is being investigated by officers from Scotland Yard's Directorate of Professional Standards, and will be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

No one opens investigations into things that are considered ok and normal policy.

Also, the "maybe it's all down to panic" is not something I made up myself, it's what is being given as the immediate explanation for the event.
posted by funambulist at 4:32 PM on July 23, 2005


Who would want to live in a dismal rat hole like London anyway? It had a chance to be one of the great cities of Europe after the Great Fire of London but its citizens were too selfish to negotiate the sale of their destroyed homes. It was too stupidly obstinate in WW2 to suffer a couple of years of occupation and instead allowed a third of the city to be ruined and cost 43000 citizens their lives.

The place is a mish mash of dated, brutalistic, confused, cheap architecture and any further bombing could only be an improvement to its architecture.
posted by DirtyCreature at 4:35 PM on July 23, 2005


Im not sure what you mean webranding, apologies if I have offended you.

sfender is obviously right, perhaps we should all just go to bed. Or keep posting and make this thread impenetrably long for people who try to read it in the future.
posted by verisimilitude at 4:35 PM on July 23, 2005


numlok : "You're visiting Rio.
"You're walking down the street.
"You realize that some suspicious looking guys are following you.
"You speed up your walk, they speed up their walk.
"You start to run.
"The guys in STREET CLOTHES pull out guns and start yelling at you in Portuguese.
"You run... and run... and run."


You've lived in Rio for four years.
There have just been several terrorist attacks by blond haired blue eyed guys like you.
You're walking down the street.
You realize that some suspicious looking guys are following you.
You speed up your walk, they speed up their walk.
You start to run.
The guys in STREET CLOTHES pull out guns and start yelling "Polícias!"
You stop... and stop... and stop.

funambulist : "I'd personally prefer people engage in too much questioning than none."

Agreed. The problem I see is that some folks are playing fast and loose with the difference between "questioning" and "blaming"

verisimilitude : "It seems he was innocent of everything accept the minor offence of evading the police. So why bother trying to justify the police's incompetence. For god's sake even Scotland Yard have already said it is a tragedy."

Because person A being innocent does not ipso facto make person B incompetent. If a kid climbs over a fence in the desert, all he's guilty of is the minor offence of trespassing. If that fence happens to be the fence outside an artillery range, and he happens to wander onto the area where the mortar shells land, resulting in his death, it doesn't make the military incompetent. This is not necessarily a zero sum game. Yes, it's a tragedy. And yes, many tragedies are due to incompetence. But many are not. Kids dying from SIDS is a tragedy. People slipping into ravines and washed into the sea is a tragedy. Tragedy does not necessarily indicate someone is incompetent or wrong. Sometimes fate can take loved ones from you, and it has fuck all to do with having some convenient target to blame. Sometimes fucked up stuff just happens and there's noone to be angry at unless you happen to believe in God. I'm not saying that's the case here. Maybe the cops were incompetent. Maybe they were very competent, and this guy got fucked by fate. But unless somebody starts pulling out some goddamn hard facts, it's just a lot of jumping to conclusions.

funambulist : "At which point did he become suspicious? Only when he approached the station? But they'd been following him since he left a flat under surveillance. That's what I don't understand."

Putting myself in their place, I'd guess it was a gradual rise, but the turnstile jumping was the clincher. See a guy come out of a flat under surveillance for possible connection with bombing? Slightly suspicious, but he could just be going to the store for some crisps. Heading towards town? Suspicion rises. Heading towards tube? Suspicion even higher. Running? Uh oh. Jumping the turnstile? Suspicion peaking. Or something along those lines. I don't find the whole "why didn't they take him down when he came out of the flat" part so puzzling. I could, of course, be wrong, but that was the first scenario that came to mind.
posted by Bugbread at 4:35 PM on July 23, 2005


But they *did execute him, and I'm sure that his last moments were utterly horrific. Don't think that the motivations of the police, however righteous or well-intentioned or misinformed they may have been, make that guy's last moments any less horrible.*

This is the goal of terrorists - to spread terror. If they can get the putative protectors of the innnocent to do it instead, so much the better. Now Londoners are not only afraid of the unknown bombers but they're going to be afraid of doing something 'suspicious' and arousing the cops as well.

Notice that I'm not apportioning blame here, please. I'm not all that interested in trying to fix blame on anyone involved right now.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:36 PM on July 23, 2005


I would be happier with smarter forms of profiling, but of course those would probably not be racial in their orientation (certainly not exclusively or even largely). I think this is the essential difficulty I have with profiling as it now stands. Since recruitment is not particularly difficult and blanket profiling of all dark-skinned suspicious looking persons both impractical and ineffective, current approaches provide an illusion of safety without the substance of safety. But since smarter profiling is impractical for economic and institutional reasons, we are likely to remain stuck with something that is not only ineffective, but ratchets up anxiety and enmity towards one particular racial group.
posted by Dr_Johnson at 4:40 PM on July 23, 2005


My bad verisimilitude. You didn't upset me. I didn't chose my words well.
posted by webranding at 4:41 PM on July 23, 2005


No one opens investigations into things that are considered ok and normal policy.

Police shootings are different, obviously.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:44 PM on July 23, 2005


The problem I see is that some folks are playing fast and loose with the difference between "questioning" and "blaming"

bugbread, the fact is, something did go terribly wrong and it's going to be investigated upon, so of course those officers are to "blame" in the strictest sense for killing an innocent person, then, it's up to the investigation to decide which degree of wrong and which degree of blame to assign. I don't necessarily need to think the worst of the police to acknowledge this shouldn't have happened. They are acknowledging it themselves. Even if it's just a mistake and justifiable by circumstances, it's one that has terrible consequences. It's not just the intentions that count. They'll have to investigate the procedures.

Right now, there are only a handful of things known about this. It's inevitable people are upset about this, also thinking about the impact this will have.
posted by funambulist at 4:49 PM on July 23, 2005


sfenders : "Bugbread, your abuse of percentages"

Agh!! Sorry, those (except for "it is clearly not 100%") were meant to be completely made up, the only importance being whether figure 1 was higher or lower than figure 2 (hence picking silly numbers like 90% and 80%)

sfenders : "In short, very few of the relevant facts are known, at least so far as they've been reported on this thread and in the articles it links to. It is absolutely ridiculous to think we know the answer."

You're exactly right, and the fact that you're saying that as a counter to me means I haven't communicated what I wanted.

All I've been trying to put forth here are counter rationales for the dogmatic statements of the guilt of certain parties. I just mean to say that "It may not have been situation A, it may have been situation B". I don't mean to be saying that it is situation B.

In regards to stopping or running, all I'm saying is that, if he spoke English, and if they identified themselves as police, and possibly several other factors, then stopping would have been the wiser course of action, and he is to blame only to the extent that he didn't choose the optimal course of action. I'm not advocating a "person A is partly to blame, therefore person B is not at all to blame" standpoint, just that part of the blame may lie on him, part on the police, part on the government, part on fate, part on the nearby scone salesman...

sfenders : "Amazing, isn't it, that so many petty criminals still do try to run from law enforcement when they think they can get away with it."

Not particularly, because most petty criminals are aware that they are not in danger of being killed due to heightened suspicion as a result of recent bombings and bombing attempts.

funambulist : "No one opens investigations into things that are considered ok and normal policy. "

True. However, your implication, that investigations are only opened into things that are considered not OK and not normal policy, is not true. Investigations are also opened into things in which it is unclear if they are OK and normal policy.

DirtyCreature : "The place is a mish mash of dated, brutalistic, confused, cheap architecture and any further bombing could only be an improvement to its architecture."

I dunno, I rather liked it.
posted by Bugbread at 4:52 PM on July 23, 2005


Dr_Johnson, I agree - I just think that taking race out of the equation here is silly since it represents a major correlation. It certainly wouldn't be the only criterion. I think we are of one mind that the profiling your reference defines as justified and constitutional probably is impractical right now.

Removing relevant and important information from the process I think is foolish, and while I certainly cannot imagine what it must be like to be a muslim in America right now, I think that should we adopt these kinds of profiles, they will understand it to be a temporary consequence of the terrorists' actions and not some rash and racist action. I feel as long as it is strictly defined and provides results, profiling should absolutely be applied - but if not then it should not be used.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:52 PM on July 23, 2005


Dipsomaniac : "But they *did execute him, and I'm sure that his last moments were utterly horrific. Don't think that the motivations of the police, however righteous or well-intentioned or misinformed they may have been, make that guy's last moments any less horrible.*"

I honestly cannot imagine anyone actually thinking that the motivations of the police made that guy's last moments any less horrible.

funambulist : "bugbread, the fact is, something did go terribly wrong and it's going to be investigated upon, so of course those officers are to 'blame' in the strictest sense for killing an innocent person, then, it's up to the investigation to decide which degree of wrong and which degree of blame to assign."

I don't see that as necessarily true. They are responsible, in the strictest sense, for the killing of an innocent person. Whether there was any fault in their actions determines whether that responsibility takes the form of blame. And the statement "decide which degree of wrong and which degree of blame to assign" all derives from the initial statement that blame is inherent, which I disagree with.

And, again, to clarify, because I seem to be getting misread: I'm not saying that they are definitely not to blame, or that they have done no wrong, just that it is not a foregone conclusion. The inquiry will hopefully clear up a lot of the information that's missing and making all of our conversation so circular and useless, and determine whether there is an issue of blame, and if so, whose blame.

funambulist : "Even if it's just a mistake and justifiable by circumstances, it's one that has terrible consequences. It's not just the intentions that count. They'll have to investigate the procedures.

"Right now, there are only a handful of things known about this. It's inevitable people are upset about this, also thinking about the impact this will have."


Absosmurfalutely agreed.
posted by Bugbread at 5:00 PM on July 23, 2005


bugbread: I dunno, I rather liked it.

Ever been to Edinburgh? If not take a trip there and you'll appreciate that London is just one big poorly healed series of exit wounds.
posted by DirtyCreature at 5:06 PM on July 23, 2005


And thank y'all for an interesting and level-headed discussion. Nice to have a discussion about an issue this grave without having to play dodge-the-empty-snark every other post.
posted by Bugbread at 5:06 PM on July 23, 2005


Yep. Edinburgh kicked some mighty ass, but that's a bit of an extreme comparison. Compared to Bristol and Bath, London did just fine. It came in a bit under Cambridge, but then again, college towns will almost always win when comparing cities.
posted by Bugbread at 5:08 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: I don't know if you're doing this on purpose, but last try - you did object to stating "it's a fact the police screwed up", now, for the third time, I'm pointing you to the fact that a big ugly mistake has already been acknowledged and an investigation opened. Of course, it might conclude the officers were wrong in one or more actions they took, and incriminate them, or it might end up concluding that despite the terrible outcome the police actions were justified in terms of both intent and procedure, but either way, it cannot cancel out the fact this man was *not* one they were after (as they had mistakenly said at first).

They killed the wrong guy, in the middle of a crowded train station, in front of terrified witnesses, and causing the impression that anyone who looks darker than pale and has a padded jacket is at risk of being shot on the spot. That is definitely a big screw up, isn't it?
posted by funambulist at 5:08 PM on July 23, 2005


"they asked him to come with them and then he broke into a run."

That is not clearly the case.

From a statement made by the police themselves:

"At about 10.05am plainclothes armed police were following somebody who they tried to stop outside Stockwell Tube station. The suspect, who police are connecting to the terror attacks of yesterday, ran off. He ran into the station, jumped over the barrier and continued running down to one of the platforms. He was confronted and was shot five times. He is dead."

Another witness reported that the suspect apparently knew he was being chased when he ran into the tube, and that as many as ten plainclothed officers followed him. He jumped the turnstile, and then ran into a subway car.

In other words, it is not clear whether he knew they were police and evaded their attempt to block his entry into the tube or he didn't know they were police, and was running from people who were chasing him, and was probably incapable of hearing or understanding them.

One theory is reasonable, and the other presupposes that he was stopped and ran past officers in front of him that identified themselves. I, for one, stick by the theory that is backed up by witnesses at the scene.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:12 PM on July 23, 2005


funambulist : "That is definitely a big screw up, isn't it?"

Not to keep belaboring the point, but we're just going to have to disagree on that as a de facto statement. It's extremely likely to be a big screw up, but it could just be a really unfortunate result of different factors. Until the inquiry happens, I'm not going to be able to agree that it's definitely a big screw up, just that it's likely to be one.
posted by Bugbread at 5:12 PM on July 23, 2005


insomnia_lj : "I, for one, stick by the theory that is backed up by witnesses at the scene."

Normally, I would too, but considering that I also remember reading witnesses saying that Menezes was wearing a backpack, I'm going to have to wait until the CCD camera footage comes in instead of trusting the witnesses.
posted by Bugbread at 5:16 PM on July 23, 2005


But we still don't know if they identified themselves as police, either at the beginning, middle or end of this tragedy.

Amen. I don't see how anyone in this thread can be certain of anything at this point. There's a reason the most thoughtful people involved are asking for a "prompt, comprehensive and independent investigation" into what really happened.

Of course, waiting until all the facts are in doesn't quite fit the now-now-now! imperative of net debate. See you when the investigation's over.
posted by mediareport at 5:22 PM on July 23, 2005


bugbread: then we do agree on the substance there. On the "blame" thing, we may be splitting hairs on the definition... Blame = responsibility for something gone wrong and caused directly by one's actions. Legal responsibility is of course yet to be established.
posted by funambulist at 5:23 PM on July 23, 2005


Witness testimony is worse than it's (already bad) reputation. I've actually been part of a live demonstration of this. People really do report different heights, apparent weights and age, colours of clothing, jewelry -- to an astounding degree. Only a few particulars tend to stick: race and sex among them.

That being said, if there was consistent witness testimony that disagreed with the official line, you bet I'd be skeptical.

I'm pointing you to the fact that a big ugly mistake has already been acknowledged

Man killed who was unconnected to terrorist attacks. Yes, that has been admitted. But not: "we screwed up; our police procedure was wrongheaded." That's a different statement entirely, and the two are getting swapped here pretty quickly.

Then again, I'm just grateful for the admission of this man's innocense. If this happened in the land of -- what was the term? -- redneck Christian population? -- we'd be mired in excuses and dazzled by distractions by now. How much would we be told about this "thoroughly suspicious man" at all, never mind that he wasn't connected to the attacks. Friggin SADDAM wasn't connected to 9/11 but that doesn't stop some people. /parial derail
posted by dreamsign at 5:24 PM on July 23, 2005


"Yes, it's a "minor" offence to be leaving a residence under surveillance for terrorist activity"

The Brits scan whole neighborhoods with CCTV, so "under surveilance" after a major terrorist attack means little when the web is cast so wide. If there were officers outside this guy's house, then you'd think he'd maybe get a hundred feet before being stopped... maybe.

And no, it's not a crime at all to leave a esidence/flat/whathaveyou that may somehow be associated with some potential suspect, or perhaps someone who knows a suspect. You don't know how connected that residence was to the suspects in question, or how many dozens or hundreds of houses and flats were "under observation".

Likewise, it's not a crime to break into a run when confronted by plain-clothes officers until such point as the officers identify themselves... which, incidentally, is a hard thing for them to do when a witness reported that they chased him into the subway, rather than stopping him and trying to block his entrance.

As far as warning shots, I have seen no account that indicates there were any. Have you?

That said, it is definitely a crime to jump a turnstile. Something sure must've scared that guy!
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:25 PM on July 23, 2005



Bugbread: I worry that you are putting to much faith in this new enquiry. Given that our government institutions have an impressive record of producing findings that support their position, it is probable that this enquiry will uncover as smaller screw up as it can possibly spin.

We have the fundamentals of the story so we might as well keep speculating.
posted by verisimilitude at 5:28 PM on July 23, 2005


"Normally, I would too, but considering that I also remember reading witnesses saying that Menezes was wearing a backpack, I'm going to have to wait until the CCD camera footage comes in instead of trusting the witnesses."

A reasonable thing to do. Hopefully it will be released soon.

I'm not saying, mind you, that the police statement will be contradicted by the footage, but rather that they carefully worded their statements in such a way that people infer that there was some sort of obvious police attempt to stop this guy at the subway that he evaded, thereby justifying their actions. Most likely, the plainclothes officers had just gotten the heads up and were vectored on to the guy, and didn't have much of an opportunity to do much other than scream at his back and give chase.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:31 PM on July 23, 2005


funambulist : "bugbread: then we do agree on the substance there. On the 'blame' thing, we may be splitting hairs on the definition..."

That sounds eminently like me.
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 PM on July 23, 2005


Ah, would that we were all as lucid, measured and compassionate as warbaby on this topic.

warbaby, thanks for all of your posts on these subjects. It's good to know that somebody consistently thinks hard about these things and manages to avoid knee-jerk responses in any particular direction. God knows, I certainly don't always manage it myself.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:32 PM on July 23, 2005


jamesonandwater writes "Weren't there published interview snippets stating that this poor guy had wires coming out of his clothing? Shows what these 'eyewitness accounts' are worth."

It made me think of an experiment I read about in a RAW book where people are witness to a staged 'stabbing' with a banana as a weapon, and many report afterwards that they saw a knife instead. The only reference I could find was a similar experiment mentioned at the bottom of this page.
posted by Edame at 5:39 PM on July 23, 2005


verisimilitude : "I worry that you are putting to much faith in this new enquiry. Given that our government institutions have an impressive record of producing findings that support their position, it is probable that this enquiry will uncover as smaller screw up as it can possibly spin."

Yes and no. I don't feel fully confident that the inquiry will produce the full details of what happened. I do, however, feel that it will produce much more reliable results than all of our arm-chair speculating. The inquiry may not be perfect. It may even be bad. But it's got to be better than all of our generally baseless postulation on what we figure musta been the real story.
posted by Bugbread at 5:40 PM on July 23, 2005


Er, sorry, I should add: and, at the least, it will give us some hard facts (who shot whom when at what timing after informing him in what manner that they were police at what stage of the issue) so that we can then armchair speculate based on data rather than gut feeling.
posted by Bugbread at 5:41 PM on July 23, 2005


Man killed who was unconnected to terrorist attacks. Yes, that has been admitted. But not: "we screwed up; our police procedure was wrongheaded." That's a different statement entirely, and the two are getting swapped here pretty quickly.


The first is certain fact; the second is one of the possibilities! and I find it quite natural that people may think it is the likeliest.

So maybe they don't get "swapped" so much as it being a case of people drawing different conclusions from the certain fact that they got the wrong guy.

All we have is a few facts, after all, the rest is all opinions and speculations, different reactions, different views of just how bad this is.

We will have to wait for the investigation for more details and official judgement, and hope it's a thorough and transparent one (yeah, good luck with that), still, even while keeping that in mind, in the meantime, people are entitled to their own personal reactions. Given the unbelievable nature of what happened... that's all.
posted by funambulist at 5:43 PM on July 23, 2005


The BBC now has a picture of the victim.

Jean Charles de Menezes
posted by Edame at 5:50 PM on July 23, 2005


Bugbread: ...will produce much more reliable results than all of our arm-chair speculating.

Speak for your own arm chair speculating! Seriously, I wouldnt disagree with any of your previous two posts. As the enquiry unfolds we will be able to debate around the official discourse so it will be much more structured.

I do think that the news tonight constituted a watershed moment though, one which seems (to me) to legitimize this whole debate we have had around so few facts. In the context of wider 'war on terror' debate its kind of like the worst fears of the civil rights types have suddenly been realised. so in tomorrow's news their argument is now, for the first time I think, more than just hypothetical.
posted by verisimilitude at 6:01 PM on July 23, 2005


A couple of points regarding the discussion underway ...

I have read a number of reports that the victim was shot in the "head and torso," not just the head. As well, he was seen leaving an "apartment block" (which I take to mean an apartment complex [can some of our U.K. friends clarify?]) -- under surveillance -- and not a specific apartment, or house as some are representing in this thread. That being said, I come out with others here who see this as an escalating series of unfortunate events occuring during a period of heightened tension, etc. It is indeed a Malcolm Gladwell moment of "Blink" gone bad. The investigations underway should help to clarify the incident.
posted by ericb at 6:37 PM on July 23, 2005


Just a quick thanks. Today was the first time I ever posted to Metafilter. Just normally view the front page for links to interesting stories. My gosh, the people here must be the nicest and intelligent people I've met in a "message board" like place. Thanks people. I was thinking there wasn't a corner of the Internet where trolls hadn't taken over.
posted by webranding at 6:51 PM on July 23, 2005


""Muslim" in appearance, coming out of a suspect apartment, odd behavior, etc all increase the probability of a significant threat."

Translation:
Suspect apartment = apartment we've seen middle-eastern people enter.

On preview: That guy doesn't look "asian" or "middle eastern". He looks polish to me.
posted by spazzm at 6:52 PM on July 23, 2005


"...the man emerged from an apartment block in Stockwell, close to the station where he was shot. Tulse Hill is another district of south London." [source]

"Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him about five times in the head and torso." [source]
posted by ericb at 6:54 PM on July 23, 2005


Also, I'd like everyone in this thread that have never, ever jumped a turnstile or worn too much clothes to raise a hand.
posted by spazzm at 6:56 PM on July 23, 2005


They killed the wrong guy, in the middle of a crowded train station, in front of terrified witnesses, and causing the impression that anyone who looks darker than pale and has a padded jacket is at risk of being shot on the spot. That is definitely a big screw up, isn't it?

You're still leaving out parts of the context. When you do that you deceive yourself and others.

I haven't followed the police announcements on this, but one can regret an action without having made a mistake.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:58 PM on July 23, 2005


"According to the official version of de Menezes' death, police had been watching his apartment block as part of their search for Thursday's would-be bombers. When the man emerged, plain-clothes police followed him from Tulse Hill to the Stockwell station in south London." [source]
posted by ericb at 6:59 PM on July 23, 2005


spazzm: Don't be an ass. Context is important.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:00 PM on July 23, 2005


What we know: london police shot a dark foreigner in the head 5 times because he looked and acted “suspicuous”.
That’s it. Everthing else is speculation or posturing.
Dark, suspicious, 5 shots in head, dead.
posted by signal at 7:02 PM on July 23, 2005


What context? The context of martial law? Was martial law in place? Because that's the only context I can think of that makes executing turnstile jumpers without trial legal.
posted by spazzm at 7:05 PM on July 23, 2005


Something that confirms an anecdotal piece of evidence from a Brixton-based discussion group: an article in the Daily Telegraph says that Jean Charles de Menezes was trailed from an address in Scotia Road, SW2. It looks to me, from the aerial photograph of Scotia Road at www.streetmap.co.uk, as if this wasn't a flat or a house, as has been reported, because Scotia Road appears to consist of large residential blocks.

I could be wrong but it's 3AM and I'm not going to walk over there to check.
posted by Hogshead at 7:06 PM on July 23, 2005


this wasn't a flat or a house, as has been reported, because Scotia Road [or, as has been reported in the media: Tulse Hill] appears to consist of large residential blocks.

That's my point (above). I have read/heard that it was an "apartment block" under surveillance - and not a specific "single unit" dwelling, thus making it likely that there were many people coming-and-going from the area.
posted by ericb at 7:12 PM on July 23, 2005


webranding : "My gosh, the people here must be the nicest and intelligent people I've met in a 'message board' like place."

Don't get your hopes up. I've been reading Mefi for years, and this thread has proven to be far above the norm for reasoned discussion. Still, the fact that threads like this even happen, even if somewhat infrequently, speaks well for Mefi.

spazzm : "Also, I'd like everyone in this thread that have never, ever jumped a turnstile or worn too much clothes to raise a hand."

/Raises hand/

signal : "What we know: london police shot a dark foreigner in the head 5 times because he looked and acted “suspicuous”.
That’s it. Everthing else is speculation or posturing.
Dark, suspicious, 5 shots in head, dead."


Looking at the picture of him, (and dropping the quotes which only appear to say "this is a fact, but really it isn't), I would rephrase that to:

London police shot a foreigner in the head 5 times because he looked and acted suspicious.

spazzm : "Because that's the only context I can think of that makes executing turnstile jumpers without trial legal."

I can think of quite a few other hypothetical contexts, since your imagination is lacking.

It could be a person confirmed as having a bomb.
It could be a turnstile jumper who turned around and pointed a gun at the police.
It could be a turnstile jumper who was running with an open jar of anthrax.
It could be a turnstile jumper who was stabbing each person he ran by.
It could be a combatant military turnstile jumper jumping a turnstile in a country that the UK was at war with. (Think "UK troops executing a Nazi jumping a turnstile in Berlin during WWII", in which case the city is not under martial law proper, but a war zone)

None of those were this case, but since you professed not being able to even think of a context that would make it legal, I figured I'd help you out.

Separately, I'd like to amend a statement made far upthread, where I disagreed with Heywood that Menezes was not innocent, but said that he was not blameless. I was playing fast and loose with the word "blame", as revealed by what I said later in the thread. That should have read "He was definitely innocent, but may have been partly responsible" instead.
posted by Bugbread at 7:30 PM on July 23, 2005


It occurs to me that if there was some justification for shooting the kid, if the police had some real reason to think he had a bomb, they would probably have told us about it by now. Or at least said "there is a reason, but we can't tell you what it is." So I guess there isn't.
posted by sfenders at 7:33 PM on July 23, 2005


"London police shot a foreigner in the head 5 times because he looked and acted suspicious."

And, to be fair, we know far more facts than that (what station he was going to, what specific suspicions they had, his dress, his gender, etc.), so putting "foreigner" in there is editorially placing emphasis on a fact just because you personally find it germaine, which, as its germainity (?) is in question, isn't really fair when framing the facts that we know.
posted by Bugbread at 7:33 PM on July 23, 2005


Maybe someone in the UK can help/correct me, but yesterday I read a story (link escapes me) that said police gave the orders to "shot to kill" (there was another phrase or code for it) anyone they thought was a bomber.
posted by webranding at 7:45 PM on July 23, 2005


digaman
The policeman did not get out of the car, but sat there and stared at me in mirrored sunglasses until I came over to the window, where he barked an order at me to hand him my ID.
Ever been to France?
posted by Joeforking at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2005


Moral: Don't be foreign looking dressed/acting suspiciously in a country involved in the War on Terror. Death penalty strictly enforced. We will deeply regret any mis-identification resulting in death.

What if you dress and act suspiciously anyway? I'm not your average normal Joe, either.
I live in a pretty un-suspicious location, but I sure don't fit in with the average person. Is that a worthy death sentance?
Should I forget the whole thing until it comes to my community?

(I live in the only town to pepper gas and rubber bullet the citizens protesting the war.)
posted by Balisong at 8:12 PM on July 23, 2005


Also, I'd like everyone in this thread that have never, ever jumped a turnstile or worn too much clothes

while running from the police

toward a target

during a major bomb scare

to raise a hand.

Ok is anyone not raising their hand now?
posted by scheptech at 8:12 PM on July 23, 2005


Oh yeah .... I've done that a few times.
posted by webranding at 8:18 PM on July 23, 2005


Reading this thread is like a crash course in why the political dialog of communities, governments and nations consistently goes nowhere and why human society is probably inevitably ultimately fucked.

Shit I don't know: I don't know why this man was being followed. I don't know why he was accosted by the police. I don't know why he ran. I don't know why he was shot. You know what? Nether does any person participating in this discussion.

But Jesus y'all are ready to get on the fucking soapbox and start pontificating hypotheses that just happen to conveniently support your preexisting political proclivities, aren't you just, tho?

I'd say the majority of people would opine that a police officer would be justified in shooting an individual who was either directly threatening their life with a weapon or threatening the lives of one or more individuals with an explosive device. Clearly that was not the case here.

I'd also say the majority of people would agree that a police officer would be utterly unjustified in walking up behind an innocent individual and unloading their gun into their back without warning and for no reason whatsoever. Clearly that was not the case here.

Everything else is utter bullshit. The significance of his appearance? His mode of dress? Did he understand that police were ordering him to stop and comply with them? If so, why he did not comply? Why he was shot? Why five times? I don't know. There is no reliable information available on any of these issues, at least as far as I have heard to date.

Any "theories" I might concoct about these things are less than useless. My uninformed theories actually cloud the slim facts available about the case. And unfortunately, some of the answers we will never know. We'll never know why he bolted. He is the only person who knew that and we'll never ever find out. Some further evidence (say a pocket full of cocaine) might present a likely theory, but we'll never know. Beyond this, the honesty of the police about the motivations of their conduct may be proportional to how much error on their parts resulted in this killing.

I believe I'll suspend judgement on the disposition of why this happened and what it means, though, as long as so little information on the actual chain of events is available. I'm confident that there will be a lengthy investigation that may shed some light on it. Maybe I'll have an opinion then.
posted by nanojath at 8:18 PM on July 23, 2005


I live in the only town to pepper gas and rubber bullet the citizens protesting the war.

I live in the only town/city where police killed a student with a "non-lethal" pepper spray projectile while celebrating the Boston Red Sox World Series win.
posted by ericb at 8:19 PM on July 23, 2005


correction: *while beating the Yankees for the American League pennant.*
posted by ericb at 8:20 PM on July 23, 2005


nanojath - Amen!
posted by ericb at 8:22 PM on July 23, 2005


ericb, that's got to be nasty. I assume it's like a paintball, filled with capsium rather than paint. I heard it hit him right in the eye. I've got a couple paintball guns, and can say that they can be tweaked to shoot as powerfully as you want to go. From barely breaking the ball, to leaving half-dollar sized welts.

I can't even imagine why they thought that they should bring something like that to a Red Sox game parking lot...
posted by Balisong at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2005


It was nasty. As I understand it, the police officer who fired the shot was not trained in the use of the weapon and hadn't fired it prior to the incident. Hence the quick apology and resulting settlement to the family of the girl killed.
posted by ericb at 8:34 PM on July 23, 2005


The significance of his appearance? His mode of dress?

His "mode of dress" is important since this bulky mode of dress has been used to disguise bomb packs by suicide bombers in the past. I don't know how many people in London were dressed like that guy, but it is a significant factoid if in fact he were standing out from the crowd, as it were.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:37 PM on July 23, 2005


spazzm What context? The context of martial law? Was martial law in place? Because that's the only context I can think of that makes executing turnstile jumpers without trial legal.

the context of un-uniformed security police neutralizing suspected suicide bombers with deadly force.

Now, is that police policy? I hope for the sake of the police officers involved that it is.

Did the waxed guy present enough of a perceived threat/risk to the police officers to justify this action? I hope for the sake of the officers that he did.

The police could have gone off half-cocked here, this could have been a terrible mistake that better-trained or more competent security police would not have made.

But I have a very hard time faulting actions that I myself would have taken. And, as the facts stand now, if I were a security officer yesterday I would have waxed that guy with 5 shots to the head, too.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:46 PM on July 23, 2005


Shit happens. This London killing. The Boston police shooting death of Victoria Snelgrove. The "pepper spray projectile" killing of Amadou Diallo in New York City (as referred to above -- and profiled in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" -- in this thread). The experience of former L.A. police officer, David Klinger, as portrayed in his book "Into the Kill Zone" - outlining his experience of having shot an armed man who was trying to kill his partner:
“If you want to understand police shootings, you have to understand how human beings make decisions under tight time constraints,” Klinger says. “What’s happening is guys are focusing on a very narrow slice of a visual field (in this case, the hands) and deciding what is dangerous and what is not.”
posted by ericb at 8:46 PM on July 23, 2005


* The "pepper spray projectile" killing of Amadou Diallo* oops ... I meant that to be * The "pepper spray projectile" killing of Victoria Snelgrove* ... still getting used to this real-time "live preview."
posted by ericb at 8:50 PM on July 23, 2005


I have to add that i and millions of other city dwellers also have wires coming out of our clothing each day--they're connected to ipods/walkmen/cd players. And 70 is cool when you're from Rio, no? Isn't 70 their winter temperature?
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on July 23, 2005


To be fair, they actually rubber bulleted the anti-war protesters in Oakland too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:57 PM on July 23, 2005


OK, I detract my 'only'.

It sucks worse that there are more.
posted by Balisong at 8:59 PM on July 23, 2005


And, as the facts stand now, if I were a security officer yesterday I would have waxed that guy with 5 shots to the head, too.

Well, that pretty much sums up the murderous, psychotic, insane side of the argument. Nice.
posted by sfenders at 9:14 PM on July 23, 2005


...Pereira said that the most upsetting part of identifying his cousin was 'to see bullet wounds in his back and his neck when I went to the mortuary in Greenwich.' ...
Scotland Yard said last night that an unspecified number of officers had been taken off firearms duties, which is standard practice after a weapon has been discharged. The officers are still at work on normal duties.
Armed officers are instructed to shoot at the head, not the chest, when facing a suspected suicide bomber, to disable them faster. The change follows advice from the Israeli police. ...
--Man shot in terror hunt was innocent young Brazilian (Guardian, Sunday)
posted by amberglow at 9:16 PM on July 23, 2005


*For the record, I 'remain vigilent and ready' to wax people left and right, when the time comes. *
This was wrong, and should have been prevented by better police work.

Again, it comes down to a lack of intelegence. The same deamon the US is facing. If you try and act on bad intel, bad get's doubled. But there isn't any good intel.
Should you drop intel? no. should you act on bad intel? no. you must learn *quickly* how to produce and disseminate good intel.

Good luck, but killing random suspects without good intel is not the way to go.
posted by Balisong at 9:22 PM on July 23, 2005


Well, that pretty much sums up the murderous, psychotic, insane side of the argument. Nice.

found missing, here's some competition for the most idiotic thing said in this thread.
posted by Snyder at 9:26 PM on July 23, 2005


murderous, psychotic, insane side

Welcome to the world, my friend. Personally, I think the policy of using lethal force like this is in fact somewhat questionable. But, with the facts as presented heretofore there is nothing murderous, psychotic, or insane about plugging a guy, in the head, who is behaving like a suicide bomber in a crowded location.

Again, context is everything. Many people here are just ignoring important elements of this event, as have been related to us by the authorities, and without this important context you're deceiving yourselves and/or others.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:27 PM on July 23, 2005


I have to add that i and millions of other city dwellers also have wires coming out of our clothing each day--they're connected to ipods/walkmen/cd players.

Not to mention motorcycle jackets with heated liners that plug into the bikes' auxilliary power...

And 70 is cool when you're from Rio, no? Isn't 70 their winter temperature?

You're really reaching insomia. The guy could be have a million reasons to have been wearing that coat, but it's his damn bad misfortune to have been wearing it in the very wrong place at the very wrong time and engaging in the very wrong behavior.[1]

[1] If I make any more posts on this, please add "with the facts as have been reported so far" where appropriate.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:33 PM on July 23, 2005


Innocent civilians die all the time as a result of the War on Terror. The only difference here is the latitude.
posted by swift at 10:13 PM on July 23, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: “
Again, context is everything....

Unless you’re the one lying on the ground with 5 bullet holes in your head, of course.
posted by signal at 10:21 PM on July 23, 2005


Innocent civilians die all the time as a result of the War on Terror. The only difference here is the latitude.

good point ... and what worries me is that the whole dynamic behind terror and supression that we've seen in the 3rd world is gradually working its way into our countries ... we are slowly being corrupted by the way we've been fighting this war ... first it was their innocent civilians that we could afford to pretend that we were killing with the right intentions ... is it going to evolve to the point where it's going to be our innocents, too? ... and are our "revolutionary" idiots going to conclude that terror is a viable means of fighting a state that kills innocents?

we're not immune to the vicious cycle that we've seen develop in other places ... we can't afford many more mistakes like this one ... this could well be a deadly turning point ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:42 PM on July 23, 2005


Unless you’re the one lying on the ground with 5 bullet holes in your head, of course.

yeah, well, I'm not exactly cheering the police on here like some on the right apparently have been. The police could have been acting bravely or like complete fuck ups, we need more facts to make any judgement. Gang tackling someone and shooting them in the head 5 times is indeed regrettable but I don't see why people are getting worked up over this, throwing out charges of 'mass hysteria' etc. Is it ignorance of previous suicide bomber tactics, especially in Israel, where security forces are basically getting their training on this threat, or what happened in London the day before this incident? Dismissal of the police's several claims that the dude was fleeing into the subway?

This is serious shit and I'm willing to cut the police a lot of leeway here. [1] If you're in a dark alley at night with a metallic object in your hands and the police show up, do EXACTLY what they tell you to do, okay? This case doesn't seem to me to be that different, just the particulars of what the police had reasonable cause to draw inferences about.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:32 PM on July 23, 2005


"With the facts as presented heretofore there is nothing murderous, psychotic, or insane about plugging a guy, in the head, who is behaving like a suicide bomber in a crowded location."

Or behaving like a Brazilian electrician wearing his jacket, with an armed man chasing after him too, apparently.

It's apparently now an irresponsible act to wear a decent sized jacket, even if you're not particularly wealthy and it's the only one you own. From now on, if it's not raining and it might get cold later on that evening, you're supposed to wear a cardigan, I suppose.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:01 AM on July 24, 2005


Short of another terrorist attack this - the police putting five shots into an innocent man - was about the worst thing that could happen. The number of people here who think the police didn't do anything wrong surprises me. I don't think professional, experienced policemen would have acted like this.

I mean, let's assume this guy was a terrorist. This doesn't mean he had a bomb on him. Bombings are planned in advance. Do you think terrorists constantly walk around with bombs strapped to their bodies, deciding on the spot to blow themselves up if they are discovered by the police? If the police suspected thiis guy of being a terrorist they should have thought "he's running away, jumping the turnstile etc. because he's trying to escape from us, not because he is going to blow up the train."
posted by Termite at 12:03 AM on July 24, 2005


It's apparently now an irresponsible act to wear a decent sized jacket

again with the asshattery. The jacket, if sufficiently bulky to cover the dude's torso, is a contributing fact that made the policemen's task of determining the threat/risk accurately more difficult.

Let's try to make this simple. If the guy was naked, the cops would have had less of a reason to form the opinion he was a suicide bomber, since it would be piss simple to see the guy didn't have any explosives on him unless it was wedged up his ass.

Wearing a PLO outfit with visible bomb vest, and it's not Halloween, more of a reason to form that opinion.

Anorak in mid-July, well, depends on how common that is. December, not suspicious at all. July it is.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:12 AM on July 24, 2005


I mean, let's assume this guy was a terrorist. This doesn't mean he had a bomb on him.

I find your opinionating unconvincing.

bugbread has done a better job trying to present the mechanics of this surveillance action and how it ended with a guy with five to ten holes in his head. I can see how a surveillance at the apartment block led to the undercover cops tailing this guy to see where he went, then reacting (or over-reacting, depends on the circumstances) when the guy bolted outside the tube station.

Middle-eastern looking guy + anorak in july + suicide bombers on the loose = amped up coppers.

Perhaps they had hero complexes, making them see more than what was really there. But they guy's actions made the police react the way they did. This happens quite often, and I tend to cut the po-po some slack since being a cop is a pretty tough job.

Here in California I was thinking about the CHP's patrolman's job some time ago. Pulling over every car is a potential shoot-out if you've got a criminal on the lam. Now THAT's a tough, stressful job. It's not like CHiPs where they're all harmless old ladies and stuff.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:21 AM on July 24, 2005


The murdered electrician had lived in the Sao Paulo slums in 2002 just before arriving in London:Would it be reasonable that a Brazilian might not think "London hot weather" is hot weather at all. And, by the time he came home from work, it might be considerably colder making him unconfortable without a jacket? Like in San Francisco, we live in layers of clothing...the weather is so changeable. Why did the London Metro Police stop Mr. Menezes so often?

Anyway, why did they allow this "suspicious" person to board a bus and then enter the Underground if they had him in their sights since the moment he left home?

The entire affair is madness. We all await more information.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:03 AM on July 24, 2005


I don't think professional, experienced policemen would have acted like this.

From this morning's Globe -- after the shooting, and before we knew he wasn't a terrorist:

"The shooting yesterday at Stockwell tube station in south London was the first time police used special tactics developed to tackle the threat of suicide bombers.

Under Operation Kratos, a senior officer is no standby 24 hours a day to authorize the deployment of special armed squads, which will track and, if need be, shoot dead any suspected suicide bombers...

...the tactics have been in place for a year and were developed after British officers learned from their Israeli counterparts how best to tackle suicide bombers.

A senior Met source said: 'The operation would have been authorized by a senior officer, and the armed officers would be able to self-deploy, open fire if they saw an imminent threat. They can get authority retrospectively. Once the officer decides to shoot, it's shoot to kill.'"
posted by dreamsign at 1:11 AM on July 24, 2005


Would it be reasonable that a Brazilian might not think "London hot weather" is hot weather at all.

For christ's sake, it DOESN'T MATTER why Menezes was wearing a jacket, unless the police had reasonable cause to know he was a climactic-challenged brazilian who couldn't stand the july morning air, if that indeed was why he was wearing what reports say he was wearing.

What does matter is what OTHER people were wearing that morning (hence possibly making his choice unusual and thus suspicious), and how well his clothes covered up a possible bomb vest.

Suicide bombers wearing bulky jackets is a known threat. Why is this so fucking hard to understand for you people?

Why did the London Metro Police stop Mr. Menezes so often?

His appearance could be taken as a middle-eastern / north african quite easily. Other than that, dunno.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:17 AM on July 24, 2005


why did they allow this "suspicious" person to board a bus and then enter the Underground if they had him in their sights since the moment he left home?

Just guessing, but he probably became a new subject of investigation. Situations developed. Note that they attempted to stop him outside the tube station. Sensible.

The entire affair is madness. We all await more information.

I don't see much madness here. Just a system functioning, in a very stressed post-bombing environment, as expected.[1]

Don't be a middle-eastern-looking man in london wearing bulky clothing or otherwise possibly having a suicide bomb/vest/package and run away from cops down a subway station and board a train, or you will quite likely get shot in the head, dead.

Well, at least this time. The cops might be forced to loosen up due to public outcry, but as far as I'm concerned this outcry is bogus (except those who argue all violence is wrong, I respect that position).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:24 AM on July 24, 2005


Oh...and maybe that jacket was all he had...was useful for carrying the odd tools in, or had a few necessary tools in pocket, etc.

We're talking about a simple civilian. In millions of civilians you'll be sure to find the occasional different behaviour/dress/culture.

Maybe he was proud of that bloody jacket...I know people that have saved up for bulky jackets with team designating leather sleeves (not my style, but *shrug*) and wear them in all weather.

Anyone believe that there is not one blue-collar Anglo-Saxon electrician that wore a jacket to work that day that wasn't under any suspision at all?

I have considerable compassion for the police and law enforcement. At 50 I'm returning to school to study Criminal Justice this fall.

Yet, professional is professional. Please make no mistake: I'm not laying *blame*...I just want to find out what happened and make sure this particular madness doesn't happen again.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:27 AM on July 24, 2005


Heywood...I'm not that far off your line of philosophy...but, really, what exactly are the rules as of today?

Perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot.

It would be nice to for the LE pros to establish the ground rules and publish them for we plebes.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:31 AM on July 24, 2005


Don't dress like a suicide bomber and your chances of getting plugged go down dramatically.

Similar advice is applicable wrt dressing like a gang-banger, etc.

this particular madness

What madness, exactly?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:32 AM on July 24, 2005


People I know in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, etc. wear jackets all the time in all kinds of weather. If it gets too hot, they open them up or wear them around their waist. There are a lot of different kinds of anoraks out there, and some of them, though they provide a high level of bagginess and concealment, are also quite light, much like a windbreaker. They also provide lots of pockets, which would be helpful if you're a pedestrian, or do odd jobs as an electrician, for instance.

If you talked to a Londoner before the bombing what a suspicious possible terrorist looked like, it would've been being an Arab, Islamic, with a large bag that you leave around... and possibly a turban, I'd suspect. Now, however, you're suspicious if you wear a baggy coat. Tomorrow, perhaps, it will be someone with lots of large bags from stores.

What's more dangerous, perhaps, is to think that the terrorists aren't going to try to fit in and look like everyone else when it's so easy for them to do so.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:35 AM on July 24, 2005


Perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot.

counterfactual response. Apparently pointless. The guideline as it stands now is don't dress like a suicide bomber, stop when asked, and whatever you do don't attempt to evade the police by running into a tube station!

Looking vaguely middle-eastern and emerging from an apartment block under covert surveillance are bonus factors that are harder to avoid I suppose.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:39 AM on July 24, 2005


insomnia, you're still missing the f-ing point.

If you talked to a Londoner before the bombing what a suspicious possible terrorist looked like

irrelevant. If you talked to trained security forces, they'd say look for eg. what that palestinian kid was wearing over his suicide bomb pack, an unseasonal heavy coat.

I don't know what the guy was wearing, I'm just assuming it was bulky enough to prompt suspicion.

What so many people are apparently closing their minds to here is that this was a confluence of events that resulted in this guy getting plugged. That's exactly how shit usually happens.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:44 AM on July 24, 2005


This just in...

British tourist wears anorak at Brazilian beach resort, at a time of year when the weather often exceeds 80 degrees!

Possible terrorist?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:44 AM on July 24, 2005


You're missing the point, I think. The suspect in question did not see himself as suspicious. Others wouldn't have thought twice about what he was doing / wearing if he wasn't shot by plainclothed police.

Take away the assumptions made by the authorities -- and there were some pretty big ones made here -- and he was just another schmoe on the subway.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:49 AM on July 24, 2005


Possible terrorist?!

Dunno, did he emerge from an apartment block under covert surveillance, run away from undercover cops when asked to stop, vault over a subway turnstile and board a subway car?

This guy didn't get plugged on the sidewalk minding his own business. What is wrong with you people?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:51 AM on July 24, 2005


and there were some pretty big ones made here

Disagree. Not after the day's previous events.

-- and he was just another schmoe on the subway.

who fucking fled from undercover police into it.

Hint to Londoners: Don't Do That, especially if you look middle eastern.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:54 AM on July 24, 2005


Baphoment:
If my comment was "fantasy bullshit" for imagining that somebody who wanted to kill you would not want to draw your attention before doing so, then yours is also fantasy bullshit for imagining that petty criminals are malicious, malevolent psychopaths who feed on pain, torture, and suffering. While I'm certain those types exist, most of them probably just want your money and to get away with as little police involvement as possible- which is pretty difficult if you splatter somebody's brains on the pavement.

Look, it's quite simple. The ones that want your money don't draw attention to themselves. They're the predictable ones since they try to stay unnoticeable until they are close to their victims.

Any thug who's announces himself from a distance through display of weapons, threats, etc etc, is most certainly not trying to just get your money, and can not be counted on to respect your well-being at all. Either he wants you off his territory and intends to hurt you if you don't, or he just wants to hurt you for the hell of it. Running is the only sensible option in that case.

BlackLeotardFront:
And psychokick - are you blaming the police for not assuming that the guy running had assumed that they were thugs randomly trying to kill him? Cause that's pretty far-fetched.

No, I'm saying that if the plainclothes police didn't immediately identify themselves as cops and threated the guy from a distance, then he made a completely understandable, and even rational decision to run like hell. Threatening from a distance is not what muggers (who only want money) do. Threatening from a distance is, however, something that people who are willing to inflict harm may do.

Heck, for all the guy could tell, they might have been a bunch of rowdy hooligans out to kill themselves an Arab. Given recent events, it's a quite understandable fear to have.

Baphomet:
And PsychoKick, your argument really just doesn't bear out. Mine makes some assumptions, to be sure, but yours is operating in a different reality.

Since we each seem to have lived in different realities, I guess we can both safely ignore each other's reasoning. Mine was a reality where surviving the depredations of low-lives was a routine affair ever since childhood. Knowing which ones were just out for money, versus which ones were out for blood is what kept me alive to be typing this.
posted by PsychoKick at 1:57 AM on July 24, 2005


fwiw, I agree that running could have been a reasonable response... we don't know how the events outside the station played out at all. But that's all irrelevant. Guy running into a subway station of all places was not a smart move. Not smart at all.

You guys need to put yourselves in the shooter(s)' shoes. Your job is to prevent suicide bombers from harming more civs. Suspect running down into a tube station is pretty much confirmation, for good or bad, that they guy is up to no good.

Unfortunately, with suicide bombers, and I assume potential suicide bombers, the training is to shoot first and ask questions later, given the likelihood of civs getting blowed up.

The dead guy made a series of wrong decisions here, and was also apparently unfortunate enough to emerge from the neighborhood of a target under covert watch. Wrong place, wrong appearance, wrong time, wrong move(s) = dead.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:08 AM on July 24, 2005


Won't winter be fun.
posted by slf at 2:21 AM on July 24, 2005


Guy running into a subway station of all places was not a smart move. Not smart at all.

I don't know how the tube works in Britain, but in my experience ducking into a subway is actually a pretty good way to elude pursuers that aren't cops. You can get lost in a crowd, weave through branching passageways, and when all else fails you just _might_ luck into a train about to pull away (though that's not as nearly frequent as as Hollywood ).

Most importantly, there are often cops in stations, making them generally safer places to flee to. Unless the cops are actually after you, as this guy probably found out too late.
posted by PsychoKick at 2:26 AM on July 24, 2005


The issue isn't really whether a particular cop was right or wrong in shooting an unarmed man (and I'll wait for some more information to surface before I adopt the police version of events - seeing that they would have a strong motive to present their actions as unavoidable). The issue is whether giving the police orders to shoot-to-kill pretty much as they deem necessary is a. compatible with democracy, b. effective against suicide bombings and c. exactly what Al Qaeda (or whoever pulled the bombings) wanted.

IMHO a. is easy: No. A state in which the policeman is *officially* both judge and executioner cannot be considered democratic. One might argue that it is a temporary necessity, but given the fact that the Blair government has been pushing for a wide range of restrictive and draconian laws for some time now (quite a long time before the bombings), I wouldn't bet on how temporary these measures will be.
b. is questionable. If they picked the whole procedure from the Israeli government than it's quite obvious that this is far from foolproof. It would be interesting to see (if the Israeli government keeps such a statistic which I doubt) the ratio of [bombers killed] / [non-bombers mistaken for bombers killed] in Israel / Palestine. I'm guessing it is a very small number. This is of course another concern. What number of innocent passengers / pedestrians have to be shot before the whole procedure is judged problematic? This is a measure that could conceivably create a huge toll of innocents. Is that OK?
Anyway: in a couple of months most Londoners will be wearing jackets and coats. It will then become impossible to even guess about who is packing a bomb.
As for c: It is pretty obvious that this is the kind of draconian response Al Qaeda was rooting for. The prospect of this turning into an extra source of police hassle (never mind casualties) for the South Asian community must be a godsend to Al Qaeda: it makes recruiting somewhat easier - not to mention amplifies the terror.

Anyway, if the murdered victim looked "South Asian" to the cops, as the police initially suggested, then they have a rather poor grasp of geographic anthropological variation. The victim could have been from any S. European country...
posted by talos at 2:56 AM on July 24, 2005


If anything, this event is a perfect example to use in future debates about shifting the line between control and freedom. To those who see the shooting as a sign of a future nightmare state, consider that in order to deal effectively with suicide bombers, events like these are nigh inevitable. You can't have one without the other. To those who advocate tight measures and a police able to deal with ALL wrongdoers, bear this case in mind, and remember that the innocent dead can be anyone from the public, even -unthinkably!- someone you know.
posted by Catfry at 3:07 AM on July 24, 2005


The issue is whether giving the police orders to shoot-to-kill pretty much as they deem necessary is

a. compatible with democracy


stupid... democracy is an informed electorate exercising political power at the polls. A team of undercover cops waxing a guy running from them for whatever reason has damn little to do with this.

b. effective against suicide bombings

your huge toll of innocents is standing at one apparent idiot.

c. exactly what Al Qaeda (or whoever pulled the bombings) wanted

Who gives a shit what "AQ" wants. The only people giving AQ what they want are the whingers here.

To those who see the shooting as a sign of a future nightmare state,consider that in order to deal effectively with suicide bombers, events like these are nigh inevitable. You can't have one without the other

I consider this nigh inevitable too, but I don't consider it a sign of a future nightmare state.

the innocent dead can be anyone from the public, even -unthinkably!- someone you know.

counterfactual speculation, IOW bullshit. One guy ran from the police and got whacked. Shit happens. The particulars are interesting but in the majority of these cases, AFAIK, the cops are blameless in that I would have done the exact same thing if I were the guy with the gun.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:30 AM on July 24, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "You guys need to put yourselves in the shooter(s)' shoes. Your job is to prevent suicide bombers from harming more civs."

Why let him board a bus before getting to the tube station then? The police already knew that a bag had exploded on a bus the day before, and yet they apparently still let him get on. If the reasoning is that they had to shoot him to prevent the possible loss of lives on the tube, I wonder why would this not apply on a bus also?
posted by Edame at 3:49 AM on July 24, 2005


Another bit of information from BBC News:

The police deployment of firearms is governed by a manual published by the Association of Police Officers, last revised in February 2005.

It is not true to say that police officers must identify themselves or shout a warning when confronting a suspect believed to pose a grave and imminent threat.
posted by Edame at 4:00 AM on July 24, 2005


Why let him board a bus before getting to the tube station then?

The situation was developing in real-time. Looking back on it, I would think the coppers wish they had stopped him earlier.

But if it were a surveillance thing, they'd want to tail the guy to see where he went and why. How obviously "suicide bomber" his jacket actually looked is an unknown at this time.


posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:02 AM on July 24, 2005


Then again, if it were a covert surveillance, the police's options within sight of the apartment block could be limited. There's a lot of unknowns here so speculation is silly.

Also, I would think a subway is a lot higher value target than a random bus, but I dunno how they plug that logic into their decisions.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:15 AM on July 24, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "The situation was developing in real-time. Looking back on it, I would think the coppers wish they had stopped him earlier.

"But if it were a surveillance thing, they'd want to tail the guy to see where he went and why."


I can certainly see where you're coming from, but to me it looks like that conflicts with the objective of preventing more casualties. If they suspected that the man was dangerous enough to warrant the use of deadly force then it would appear that they were playing dice with the public's lives. If I had been a passenger on that bus I might be wondering why my life was deemed disposable enough to continue with their surveillance, but not the tube passengers. I'm sure we'll learn more over the coming weeks but I don't like the way this appears to me at the moment.

On preview: I agree that it's all speculation, but it would probably be quite a short discussion without it.
posted by Edame at 4:18 AM on July 24, 2005


This is a terribly sad event. It would appear the botched bombings have now actually claimed a life. Of course there's probably more to the story that the public isn't being told. Why did the police suspect this guy in the first place for example? Not just on his appearance alone surely.
posted by sjvilla79 at 4:34 AM on July 24, 2005


I had a quick go on google maps to see what kind of distances we could be looking at (based on Hoghead's comment), link here. I don't know the bus route but it gives an idea of how far he might have travelled or how long they were tailing him.
posted by Edame at 4:47 AM on July 24, 2005


How obviously "suicide bomber" his jacket actually looked is an unknown at this time.

Indeed. What's with the picture? Is that a suicide bomber, or an innocent victim of fashion? I can't tell. Somebody should really set up an "Am I a suicide bomber or not?" page, so we can set some real guidelines for exactly what kind of clothing you need to wear if you expect not to be shot at.
posted by sfenders at 4:49 AM on July 24, 2005


You're still leaving out parts of the context. When you do that you deceive yourself and others.

I haven't followed the police announcements on this, but one can regret an action without having made a mistake.


Heywood, if you haven't followed the police statements, then you are the one who's missing a big chunk of the context here. Go read them on the bbc links. They are calling this a tragedy and have apologised for it. Of course, because it's up to the investigators to ascertain the details and responsibilities, they're not going to say "those officers acted wrongly and completely out of bounds with our policies", that'd be an admission of criminal liability, and there's also the matter of diplomatic relations with the Brazilian government who has asked for explanations, so any statement they make is going to be as careful as possible. Still, precisely because of the larger context of terrorism and high alert, this is a very bad thing to have happened, by the police's own admission, and the public questions both on the event and the shoot to kill policy are perfectly legitimate. Frankly, I'd be worried if there was less outrage.

Everyone is capable of processing the available facts for themselves. Just because you don't like this questioning and outrage at the police actions, doesn't make it "deceit". As if. No one's fabricated anything or suggested any wacky conspiracy theories. People are only questioning how this could happen also in light of how it can be avoided in the future because if it happens again, it's going to cause even more insecurity than the bombs themselves. After all, you expect terrorists to kill at random, but not the police.

nanojath: But Jesus y'all are ready to get on the fucking soapbox and start pontificating hypotheses that just happen to conveniently support your preexisting political proclivities, aren't you just, tho?

But Jesus, nothing like this happened in the US after 9/11, or for that matter, as far as I know, even in Israel. It's naturally shocking. I'm not seeing hypotheses or theories as much as reactions. And yes, they say a lot about the political proclivities of commenters, as anything one says on political matters. There are different views on the degree of accountability of public authorities in times of terrorism. So people tend to identify with different parties here. I do take in the fact the police has an awful job now and has to make quick decisions when there is an imminent threat, but the criterion for imminent threat has to be a lot more specific than coming out of the wrong area and looking vaguely Asian and failing to stop when armed men run after you. Anyone could get shot by that standard. Hopefully it is already more specific than that, but until this tragedy is explained, that's how it looks like, based on the statements of the police themselves.

Being a commuter is not a job, it doesn't come with specific extra duties and responsibilities and accountability to the public. Being a police or special forces officer does! It's absolutely necessary that they be held accountable for actions that increase danger and result in negative public perceptions. And for that to happen, there has to be public pressure.

Plus, this was a specific group of officers. There's no need to go for total apology or total condemnation of the police as a whole.

I'm confident that there will be a lengthy investigation that may shed some light on it.

Hopefully, but the two things - outrage, questioning, reactions at what happened now, and overall judgement based on further findings etc. - are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are mutually dependent. If everyone (not here, obviously, but the general public) had only sat back and said, "oh well, too bad, but this is only an inevitable consequence of terrorism", then there wouldn't be an investigation in the first place!
posted by funambulist at 5:01 AM on July 24, 2005


You're still leaving out parts of the context. When you do that you deceive yourself and others.

I haven't followed the police announcements on this, but one can regret an action without having made a mistake.


Heywood, if you haven't followed the police statements, then you are the one who's missing a big chunk of the context here. Go read them on the bbc links. They are calling this a tragedy and have apologised for it. Of course, because it's up to the investigators to ascertain the details and responsibilities, they're not going to say "those officers acted wrongly and completely out of bounds with our policies", that'd be an admission of criminal liability, and there's also the matter of diplomatic relations with the Brazilian government who has asked for explanations, so any statement they make is going to be as careful as possible. Still, precisely because of the larger context of terrorism and high alert, this is a very bad thing to have happened, by the police's own admission, and the public questions both on the event and the shoot to kill policy are perfectly legitimate. Frankly, I'd be worried if there was less outrage.

Everyone is capable of processing the available facts for themselves. Just because you don't like this questioning and outrage at the police actions, doesn't make it "deceit". As if. No one's fabricated anything or suggested any wacky conspiracy theories. People are only questioning how this could happen also in light of how it can be avoided in the future because if it happens again, it's going to cause even more insecurity than the bombs themselves. After all, you expect terrorists to kill at random, but not the police.

nanojath: But Jesus y'all are ready to get on the fucking soapbox and start pontificating hypotheses that just happen to conveniently support your preexisting political proclivities, aren't you just, tho?

But Jesus, nothing like this happened in the US after 9/11, or for that matter, as far as I know, even in Israel. It's naturally shocking. I'm not seeing hypotheses or theories as much as reactions. And yes, they say a lot about the political proclivities of commenters, as anything one says on political matters.

There are different views on the degree of accountability of public authorities in times of terrorism.

It's a bit ironic to say everyone is getting on a soapbox, and then proceed to get on a soapbox yourself to inform everyone they're not entitled to their reactions to what has happened. That says a lot about your political proclivities, too.

As far as I'm concerned, I do take in the fact the police has an awful job now and has to make quick decisions when there is an imminent threat, but the criterion for imminent threat has to be a lot more specific than coming out of the wrong area and looking vaguely Asian and failing to stop when armed men run after you. Anyone could get shot by that standard. Hopefully it is already more specific than that, but until this tragedy is explained, that's how it looks like, based on the statements of the police themselves. And perceptions are going to stick, and have to be dealt with now.

Being a commuter is not a job, it doesn't come with specific extra duties and responsibilities and accountability to the public. Being a police or special forces officer does. It's absolutely necessary that they be held accountable for actions that increase danger and result in negative public perceptions. And for that to happen, there has to be public pressure.

Plus, this was a specific group of officers. There's no need to go for total apology or total condemnation of the police as a whole.

I'm confident that there will be a lengthy investigation that may shed some light on it.

Hopefully, but the two things - outrage, questioning, reactions at what happened now, and overall judgement based on further findings etc. - are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are mutually dependent. If everyone (not here, obviously, but the general public) had only sat back and said, "oh well, too bad, but this is only an inevitable consequence of terrorism", then there wouldn't be an investigation in the first place.
posted by funambulist at 5:13 AM on July 24, 2005


One guy ran from the police and got whacked. Shit happens.

When an innocent civilian is killed by police, that is pretty f*cking serious, no matter what the extenuating circumstances. It can't be explained away as "shit happens".

How is any vaguely southern European looking man in London now supposed to behave? Menezes likely did not know he lived in a block of flats where terrorists lived, the men pursuing him were undercover so he likely did not know they were police. What happens in winter when everyone is wearing coats?

Should all Londoners with dark hair wear badges saying they are not terrorists? And if they don't it's OK to shoot them?
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:45 AM on July 24, 2005


It is still my opinion (since the original thread) that the cops appear to have behaved reasonably judged on the evidence currently available. It sure is a tough gig for them. There is some new information in the Guardian article linked to upthread by amberglow:
The address in Tulse Hill was identified from materials found inside the bombers' unexploded rucksacks on Thursday and was immediately put under surveillance. When Menezes, dressed in baseball cap, blue fleece and baggy trousers, emerged from it at around 10am on Friday, he was followed. When he headed for the nearby tube station, officers decided to arrest him. An armed unit took over, ordering him to stop. He did not. His unseasonally thick jacket apparently prompted concern that he had explosives strapped beneath.
posted by Onanist at 5:48 AM on July 24, 2005


It is not true to say that police officers must identify themselves or shout a warning when confronting a suspect believed to pose a grave and imminent threat.

Oh great. That may make sense when there is absolute certainty that is a person posing an imminent threat. How is someone who is actually not a suspect, but wrongly believed to be a suspect, supposed to know that a gang who's pursuing him with weapons are actually undecover agents? Telepathy?
posted by funambulist at 6:03 AM on July 24, 2005


officers decided to arrest him.

There is the point where it went wrong. Even if you can somehow manage to think it's reasonable that they should kill people who try to run away, that just makes the decision to arrest someone all the more difficult. The only reported reason to arrest him is that he was seen leaving a location that may in some general way have been associated with the bad guys. Not a good decision.
posted by sfenders at 6:11 AM on July 24, 2005


bugbread's comments have all been quite good and I agree with them.
posted by OmieWise at 6:11 AM on July 24, 2005


Nanojath - Another amen!!

sfenders : "Well, that pretty much sums up the murderous, psychotic, insane side of the argument. Nice."

Er, no, "I would have whacked any children or cripples standing near the guy, and then I might have stuffed my fingernail clippings into their ears" sums up the murderous, psychotic, and insane aspect of the argument. Nice to just call some de facto murderous, psychotic, and insane for disagreeing with you, though.

signal : "Again, context is everything....
Unless you’re the one lying on the ground with 5 bullet holes in your head, of course."


No, in that case context is nothing, but neither is anything else, including life, death, love, hate, or rice crispies. With 5 bullet holes in your head, nothing is anything to you.

insomnia_lj : "It's apparently now an irresponsible act to wear a decent sized jacket, even if you're not particularly wealthy and it's the only one you own."

Stop with the canards. Wearing a jacket is fine. Being male is fine. Entering the tube is fine. Walking to the station the day after a terrorist attack is fine. Having wires in your jacket is fine. Leaving a monitored house is fine. Being non-caucasian is fine. Nobody is saying otherwise, so you're shouting a counterargument into empty space. It's responsible, but it makes you look suspicious, and you shouldn't be surprised if cops ask you to stop to ask some questions. That's the same anywhere: there are things which can make you look suspicious, even though there's a good reason for them. It's not irresponsible to, for example, buy fertilizer, or send money overseas, or have decorative swords on your wall, or take a trip to North Korea, etc. etc. etc. But you should realize that it does make you look a bit suspicious, and that you may be asked some questions by some police. Looking suspicious ≠ being irresponsible.

Dunvegan : "but, really, what exactly are the rules as of today?

Perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot.

It would be nice to for the LE pros to establish the ground rules and publish them for we plebes."


Er, the rules are the same as everywhere else in the developed world: when police pointing guns at you tell you to stop, the safest bet is to stop. Sure, perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot. And, perhaps, next time, if you like the New Kids on the Block, you'll be shot. Or, perhaps, next time they'll throw wads of money at you and call you "Captain Power". Perhaps.

As far as publication, please feel free to print this up and carry it with you if it's hard to remember:

In the developed world: when police pointing guns at you tell you to stop, the safest bet is to stop.

(I can put that in the form of a PDF file, if you want)

insomnia_lj : "British tourist wears anorak at Brazilian beach resort, at a time of year when the weather often exceeds 80 degrees!

Possible terrorist?!"


Sure. So is his mom. So is my mom. So is your mom. Everyone is a possible terrorist. The possibility goes up based on various factors. Have there been threats against Brazil in the recent past? Have there been attacks on Brazil recently? Have those attacks been carried out using guns, slingshots, bombs, or tanks? Has this person come from an area under investigation for possible connection with previous terrorist attacks?

We're all potential terrorists. And the only way you'll know for sure if someone is a terrorist is if they set off a bomb/otherwise kill folks. Just having a bomb doesn't prove that one is a terrorist, just that one is a potential terrorist. But we grant the police the power to kill potential terrorists. If a guy walks on the train, pulls off his jacket to show a vest full of explosives, and pulls out a trigger, most rational folks would say the cops have the right to shoot him (if otherwise disarming him seems impossible). If a 5 year old in a park holds up his lunchbox and says "hey, daddy, this a bomb go kablooie", most rational folks would say cops don't have the right to shoot him. The question isn't if cops have the right to kill potential terrorists: most people would agree that they do. The question is the threshhold.

PsychoKick : "I'm saying that if the plainclothes police didn't immediately identify themselves as cops and threated the guy from a distance, then he made a completely understandable, and even rational decision to run like hell."

Agreed, which is why, while this discussion is not premature, the conclusions being made here are. Depending on what the cops did, his actions may have been understandable and even rational, or incomprehensible and even irrational. Until we know, we can discuss alternate theories (interesting as a mental excercise, and perhaps useful as groundwork for when details emerge), but stating that what he did, or what the cops did, plain old was or was not rational is silly.

PsychoKick : "I don't know how the tube works in Britain, but in my experience ducking into a subway is actually a pretty good way to elude pursuers that aren't cops."

Gotta agree here, too. If he wasn't aware they were cops (or under the impression that they weren't really cops), the subway is a great place to lose pursuers.

Heywood Mogroot : "your huge toll of innocents is standing at one apparent idiot."

C'mon, Heywood. Talos clearly states "in Israel / Palestine"
posted by Bugbread at 8:44 AM on July 24, 2005


heywood: Unfortunately, with suicide bombers, and I assume potential suicide bombers, the training is to shoot first and ask questions later, given the likelihood of civs getting blowed up

This is the heart of the issue. Was the likelihood of civilians dying so great? I would argue that the risk wasn't really so high (divide the number of suicide bombers by the number of turnstyle jumpers in say, the last year, and you'd get a pretty small number).

The question then becomes why the training and regulations distorted the percieved risk to the point where killing a frightened kid became justifiable. I'll tell you why: because fear imakes us choose irrationally.

The reason some of us have gotten so worked up in this thread is that saying things like "shit happens" and "he deserved what he got", is saying his death was justifiable by the risk he posed, when it was measurably not so. Yet people keep saying stupid shit like: "its ok to shoot anyone who jumps a turnstyle because we're scared."
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2005


Nanojath - Another amen!!

sfenders : "Well, that pretty much sums up the murderous, psychotic, insane side of the argument. Nice."

Er, no, "I would have whacked any children or cripples standing near the guy, and then I might have stuffed my fingernail clippings into their ears" sums up the murderous, psychotic, and insane aspect of the argument. Nice to just call some de facto murderous, psychotic, and insane for disagreeing with you, though.

signal : "Again, context is everything....
Unless you’re the one lying on the ground with 5 bullet holes in your head, of course."


No, in that case context is nothing, but neither is anything else, including life, death, love, hate, or rice crispies. With 5 bullet holes in your head, nothing is anything to you.

insomnia_lj : "It's apparently now an irresponsible act to wear a decent sized jacket, even if you're not particularly wealthy and it's the only one you own."

Stop with the canards. Wearing a jacket is fine. Being male is fine. Entering the tube is fine. Walking to the station the day after a terrorist attack is fine. Having wires in your jacket is fine. Leaving a monitored house is fine. Being non-caucasian is fine. Nobody is saying otherwise, so you're shouting a counterargument into empty space. It's responsible, but it makes you look suspicious, and you shouldn't be surprised if cops ask you to stop to ask some questions. That's the same anywhere: there are things which can make you look suspicious, even though there's a good reason for them. It's not irresponsible to, for example, buy fertilizer, or send money overseas, or have decorative swords on your wall, or take a trip to North Korea, etc. etc. etc. But you should realize that it does make you look a bit suspicious, and that you may be asked some questions by some police. Looking suspicious ≠ being irresponsible.

Dunvegan : "but, really, what exactly are the rules as of today?

Perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot.

It would be nice to for the LE pros to establish the ground rules and publish them for we plebes."


Er, the rules are the same as everywhere else in the developed world: when police pointing guns at you tell you to stop, the safest bet is to stop. Sure, perhaps next time if you *stop* you'll be shot. And, perhaps, next time, if you like the New Kids on the Block, you'll be shot. Or, perhaps, next time they'll throw wads of money at you and call you "Captain Power". Perhaps.

As far as publication, please feel free to print this up and carry it with you if it's hard to remember:

In the developed world: when police pointing guns at you tell you to stop, the safest bet is to stop.

(I can put that in the form of a PDF file, if you want)

insomnia_lj : "British tourist wears anorak at Brazilian beach resort, at a time of year when the weather often exceeds 80 degrees!

Possible terrorist?!"


Sure. So is his mom. So is my mom. So is your mom. Everyone is a possible terrorist. The possibility goes up based on various factors. Have there been threats against Brazil in the recent past? Have there been attacks on Brazil recently? Have those attacks been carried out using guns, slingshots, bombs, or tanks? Has this person come from an area under investigation for possible connection with previous terrorist attacks?

We're all potential terrorists. And the only way you'll know for sure if someone is a terrorist is if they set off a bomb/otherwise kill folks. Just having a bomb doesn't prove that one is a terrorist, just that one is a potential terrorist. But we grant the police the power to kill potential terrorists. If a guy walks on the train, pulls off his jacket to show a vest full of explosives, and pulls out a trigger, most rational folks would say the cops have the right to shoot him (if otherwise disarming him seems impossible). If a 5 year old in a park holds up his lunchbox and says "hey, daddy, this a bomb go kablooie", most rational folks would say cops don't have the right to shoot him. The question isn't if cops have the right to kill potential terrorists: most people would agree that they do. The question is the threshhold.

PsychoKick : "I'm saying that if the plainclothes police didn't immediately identify themselves as cops and threated the guy from a distance, then he made a completely understandable, and even rational decision to run like hell."

Agreed, which is why, while this discussion is not premature, the conclusions being made here are. Depending on what the cops did, his actions may have been understandable and even rational, or incomprehensible and even irrational. Until we know, we can discuss alternate theories (interesting as a mental excercise, and perhaps useful as groundwork for when details emerge), but stating that what he did, or what the cops did, plain old was or was not rational is silly.

PsychoKick : "I don't know how the tube works in Britain, but in my experience ducking into a subway is actually a pretty good way to elude pursuers that aren't cops."

Gotta agree here, too. If he wasn't aware they were cops (or under the impression that they weren't really cops), the subway is a great place to lose pursuers.

Heywood Mogroot : "your huge toll of innocents is standing at one apparent idiot."

C'mon, Heywood. Talos clearly states "in Israel / Palestine"
posted by Bugbread at 9:14 AM on July 24, 2005


sfenders : "What's with the picture? Is that a suicide bomber, or an innocent victim of fashion? I can't tell."

I googled for a while, too, as I was curious: Here you go.

Oh, and we need a cleanup on aisle 4, JRun forced me to quintuplebillion post.

Popular Ethics : "I would argue that the risk wasn't really so high (divide the number of suicide bombers by the number of turnstyle jumpers in say, the last year, and you'd get a pretty small number). "

This is where deciding how to take your statistics is difficult. He wasn't shot just for turnstyle jumping, he was shot because he was suspected of having a bomb in his jacket. Also, the last year includes 11 months and 4 weeks where there had been no recent failed bombing attempts on the subway by suspects who had managed to then flee the authorities.

Again, I'm not saying that all is right with the situation. I'm just saying that your proposed method of risk analysis leaves out some very crucial elements.

And, lastly, on reflection it might appear that I'm in total agreement with Heywood. That isn't true. It's just that the Heywood side of the argument seemed underrepresented (in terms of number of commenters, not number of comments), so I've been focusing on the arguments that say things to the effect that "clearly the police did not do what they should have". I disagree with Heywood's arguments that the police were clearly right as well, and that may not have come across. What I actually believe is that there is a high likelihood of the police having done what is, in my opinion, the right thing. And, in that event, there is, in my opinion, an as-yet undeterminable (and, possibly, eternally undeterminable) likelihood of Menesez being partly responsible (if he knew they were police, he bore partial responsibility. If he didn't, he doesn't). And there is a smaller, but just as existant, likelihood that the police were wrong. Until we get to see the CCTV footage (and, hopefully, hear sound) of the incident, we just don't have enough to say either way.
posted by Bugbread at 9:41 AM on July 24, 2005


stupid... democracy is an informed electorate exercising political power at the polls.
That's a very... limited definition of democracy Heywood Mogroot. I guess that Iran is a democracy then? When police are authorized to kill on the spot anyone they perceive as suspicious we have a police state

your huge toll of innocents is standing at one apparent idiot
First of all it would be nice if you refrained from insulting the dead - especially since it seems likely now that little or no warning was given that the people with guns were in fact police. Secondly, keep this policy up for a few years and see how the deah toll rises (or the policy is retracted). The fact of the matter is that ,at any given moment, the ratio of suspicious looking buggers to actual suicide bombers in the London Undergound is a large number. If the policy remains that police should shoot without warning anyone in the tube they find really suspicious, the end result is mathematically certain to be a large toll of innocents. Far more likely of course is that this policy will, officially or unofficially be withdrawn... Finally, but crucially, the toll of innocents I was inquiring about was Israel's (as bugbread pointed out).

c.Who gives a shit what "AQ" wants. The only people giving AQ what they want are the whingers here.

Ah, so defense of basic democratic principles and opposition to police state measures is being a whinger. While actually thinking about AQ's possible aims and trying to make sure they have failed is irrelevant. Am I getting it right?
posted by talos at 10:06 AM on July 24, 2005


"it makes you look suspicious, and you shouldn't be surprised if cops ask you to stop to ask some questions."

Exactly. And wouldn't it have been nice if a uniformed officer who wasn't chasing him down with a gun in his hand had done so?

A uniformed, unarmed bobby in front of the turnstiles of each tube entrance would've accomplished more than all of these plainclothed pursuers.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:08 AM on July 24, 2005


A uniformed, unarmed bobby in front of the turnstiles of each tube entrance would've accomplished more than all of these plainclothed pursuers.

Yes, I've been thinking the same thing.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:16 AM on July 24, 2005


Onanist, the article i linked only brought up many more questions for me: Since when is a fleece jacket unseasonable when the evening temperatures go down to the 50s? It's not down, it's not a parka, it's not an overcoat, it's not a leather jacket, it's not an anorak, etc...And he's from a tropical climate, where 70 is not warm or hot at all. If they really seriously saw him as a threat all along, it's unacceptable to public safety to let him get on public transport at all, let alone letting him get near to a subway. And how many other people entered and left the apartment building that day? Did they follow only the darker guys? What was their criteria for moving beyond a stakeout? Had they followed this guy in the past?

The police clearly handled this wrong in all sorts of ways--and whether the investigation will truly be independent is another question. I'd be very worried if i was even mediterranean-looking in London nowadays after this, let alone truly brown-skinned. Giving cops the benefit of the doubt is not done here when an incident like this happens, and that group of cops in London, as was mentioned before, have had problems--here we've had way too many innocent people abused and/or killed here by excessive force and idiotic mistakes, or just plain cowboyism, like storming into the wrong apartment when on a bust with guns blazing, etc.
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on July 24, 2005


when police pointing guns at you tell you to stop, the safest bet is to stop

And when only the police know they're the police, and what everyone elses see is a gang of armed men in plain clothes?

Oh, right, let's all keep ignoring that little detail and blame the victim. This refrain is seriously starting to sound a little too grating.


We're all potential terrorists.

No we're not. Otherwise the police and intelligence would be unnecessary and we should all just lock ourselves up.

And the only way you'll know for sure if someone is a terrorist is if they set off a bomb/otherwise kill folks.

No, you can actually catch terrorists before they do that, Israel has been doing this for years. It's called intelligence work. One horrid mistake in London doesn't mean the UK has no intelligence capabilities!

Just having a bomb doesn't prove that one is a terrorist, just that one is a potential terrorist.

You're just quibbling with words, here, bugbread. If someone is actually caught with a bomb near a train station, they are by definition terrorists, even if they haven't set it off yet. They're definitely not a mailman delivering bombs like it's a job.


But we grant the police the power to kill potential terrorists.

No, we don't. You are talking of a certain Spielberg movie with a certain Tom Cruise there, not of how the police is supposed to act. We sure don't grant them the power to kill "potential" anything. The police, in police uniform, shoot when a criminal or suspect criminal they are pursuing hasn't stopped after repeated attempts and even there, they only shoot to kill if there is a threat, otherwise immobilising them is enough. Now, if the rules have changed recently and it's ok even for undercover agents in plain clothes to skip the identification and warning part altogether and just start shooting anyone they may believe could be a potential suspect based only on elements like walking out of the wrong building and wearing a jacket and failing to guess that those men with guns are police officers, that is a very serious matter and I'd be appalled that any authority in any country can even alter the law to that extent without any sort of democratic debate on it.

If a guy walks on the train, pulls off his jacket to show a vest full of explosives, and pulls out a trigger, most rational folks would say the cops have the right to shoot him (if otherwise disarming him seems impossible).

But that is nothing like what happened here, that's the problem.

The question isn't if cops have the right to kill potential terrorists: most people would agree that they do.

You don't know what "most people" think. The only way in which that kind of totally arbitrary shoot to kill policy you're describing based on an arbitrary "potential" -- as opposed to a necessary shoot to kill policy strictly based on certainty of clear and present danger -- can be approved would be via parliamentary debate. That's how the positions of "most people" are represented, in a democracy, in the developed world. Not by the improvised actions of an undercover unit.

It's not clear at all what the policy is, besides, or how much this particular incident is actually representative or official policies. Yet you're taking it for granted it is.
posted by funambulist at 10:20 AM on July 24, 2005


"What's with the picture?

Yup, Hussam Abdo. Young kid, apparently picked on by other kids because he's small for his age and also a little slow according to his brother. He told the Israelis he wanted to enter paradise. In other words someone told him about paradise, and how the things he can't have in this world will be available to him on the other side. And, oh by the way, killing non-Muslims is a good thing, it's not really murder, so don't worry about that part. Once done, you're in paradise, and there are fewer non-Muslims in the world - see it's all good!

These are the folks that need to be held accountable, the indoctrinators and manipulators of these younger people, or this is going to continue for a very long time. The world needs to figure out how to separate church and terror. How do we maintain religious freedom in the face of a sect that engages in the random killing of anyone not in the sect as part of their devotional practice?
posted by scheptech at 10:39 AM on July 24, 2005


Come on folks. If the police had let him run on the train and he blew himself up and killed a bunch of people the headlines would have read "Police fail to act" or "The cops let him do it" or some other crap.
I read the other day that (I think his father was quoted) he could speak English well and was working/studying in England.
It may just be that he was jumping the turnstile to save some money and his attire, though odd to us, was fine for him.
At the end of the day, the cops did what they thought needed to be done. THAT IS WHAT THEY GET PAID TO DO! Use their judgement for better or worse.
Given recent events they are undoubtedly hyper alert, and it is unfortunate that someone had to lose their life. But, he jumped the turnstyle, failed to yield to their orders and sealed his own fate.
posted by a3matrix at 10:42 AM on July 24, 2005


Frankly there is a tendency on the parts of some people -- particularly Americans -- to never even admit to the possibility that the police may not be discharging their duties in the best possible way.

Yet it happens sometimes that police officers act irresponsibly and cause the deaths of innocent bystanders. People in New York remember the Amadou Diallo, and the Patrick Doresmond incidents, in exactly that light. Sure, Diallo *could* have been holding something else than his wallet when cops from the "elite" Street Crimes Unit fired 41 shots (yes, 41) in his direction. Yes, maybe it was a bad idea for Doresmond to push around a guy who'd kept asking him where he could buy drugs, because the guy (unknown to Doresmond) was an undercover cop. But in both cases you have irresponsible policing causing death in the very communities they were supposed to protect.

It happens, and no amount of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is going to change that.
posted by clevershark at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2005


One more dead third-worlder doesn’t amount to much in the running total of the W.O.T., but the over reaching efforts by many people here to justify public employees shooting an innocent man 5 times in the head are very disenheartening.
posted by signal at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2005


I disagree with Heywood's arguments that the police were clearly right as well

I haven't said that, and that's not what I think. People want to throw things in the right/not right boxes without sufficient evidence here.

From appearances, I can understand a possible chain of events that led to this guy getting plugged:

1) Undercover surveillance on an apartment flat
2) Middle eastern looking guy walks out
3) Becomes a person of interest
4) Is tailed on the bus
5) Is (possibly) wearing unseasonable or otherwise baggy clothing making it difficult to determine what he has on his body
6) HQ called for armed backup people
7) Intercepted (perhaps quite chaotically) at the tube entrance
8) Dude books for whatever reason(s)
9) Police chase him, the inference that he's an actual terrorist dude is strengthened
10) Tackle him
11) Neutralize him to prevent him from triggering any explosive device

7, 8, 9, 10, 11 probably happened in a time scaling few of us here have experienced. Perhaps the police overreacted at 10, 11, but suicide bombers in crowded locations are a different class of target than any other.

Perhaps the events of the previous day put the coppers in a more aggressive frame of mind.

Perhaps their training was faulty or not followed, their policy was faulty or not followed.

But 90% of the argumenters here have been total crap, and I'm tired of arguing about it so good day everyone.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2005


What I actually believe is that there is a high likelihood of the police having done what is, in my opinion, the right thing.

So what reason do you think they likely had for acting as though he had a bomb, other than just over-active imagination? Something we don't know about? All they had was "he looks suspicious". He pushed them into "he's running, chase him!" But they made the leap to "he has a bomb, take him out!" all on their own, based on nothing but fear and paranoia. I have to call it like I see it, which is "insane", because it just doesn't add up. And I know about that kind of insanity, I've been there. You start to see threats (or "potential terrorists" as you put it) everywhere. It isn't healthy. It's appropriate if you're at war, I suppose. So if you see the whole world as being at war with the terrorists, and are okay with thinking of every big city as a permanent war zone from now on, I guess that would explain it. But it's still insane.
posted by sfenders at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2005


Guidance to officers on the deployment of firearms was last updated by the Association of Chief Police Officers in February. Officers do not have to identify themselves before firing but it "should be considered". The advice concludes that an officer should not open fire unless "that officer is satisfied that nothing short of opening fire could protect the officer or another person from imminent danger to life or serious injury" .

Questions will be asked why the suspect was allowed to reach the underground platforms at Stockwell before he was apprehended.

Confidence has not been raised by the contradictory accounts of the incident from the police. In the immediate aftermath, the Met said the man had come under police observation after he "had emerged from a house that was itself under observation". His "clothing and his behaviour at the station" fuelled police suspicions and he was killed after fleeing the plainclothes officers when they challenged him.

But yesterday's statement said only that the man had "emerged from a block of flats under surveillance", suggesting that he may have been entirely innocent. Later the Met again amended their account, saying the man had emerged from a house in Tulse Hill.
posted by funambulist at 12:10 PM on July 24, 2005


Heywood, if you believe in the orders, don't just take your ball and go home...stay and think of how to make the Israelicounter-terrorism training translate to work in the West.

It's plainly not working now.

Obviously the Israeli methodology for counter-terrorism actions just doesn't exactly, perfectly, and precisely translate to work well in London or NYC or the West at all.

Example: Coming from a known-Arabic neighborhood headed to city-center and/or public transit isn't the same scenario in San Francisco as it is in Israel.

It is somewhat hazardous behaviour for a Jew to travel through some of the more radical Arabic sectors in Israel. And, a Jewish person in an Islamic neighborhood would be usually quickly subliminally recognizable as they would most probably present with cultural indicators to the locals, even down to their dress.

So, it would be unlikely anyone leaving an Arabic sector of town would be anything other than Arabic. Therefore, the calculation of the Israeli counter-terrorism training has far greater currency in Israel than in the West.

I live in city center in San Francisco, and there are a number of tiny several room-sized places of worship for Muslims around within 3 blocks...also Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and even Wiccan places of worship in the same radius.

We're a melange of cultures here in a very small place: There are about 10 Thai restaurants within a 4 block area, and any other cuisine you can think of is in short walking distance. Also I'm equally hard by Chinatown, the Tenderloin, Little Saigon, the Polkstrassse, and Nob Hill.

Example: To go to this mornings Farmer's Market at UN Plaza next to City Hall, I walk from Nob Hill, through the Tenderloin, Little Saigon, and an Arabic neighborhood to the Financial District in the space of 8 blocks.

The untranslated Israeli anti-terrorism procedural just wouldn't work here. I would be a suspect target crossing through an Arabic neighborhood bringing my food home in my denim bag and rucksack. I am also of half-Irish, 1/4 Black, and 1/4 Native America extraction...so I may be taken for being Arabic by an over-zealot anti-terrorism regular officer.

Work needs to be done on this process...If you believe in the process Heywood, don't run off...come back and help us do the translation this procedure needs.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:08 PM on July 24, 2005


Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has admitted more people could be shot after his officers gunned down an innocent man in their hunt for would-be suicide bombers.

He apologised to the family of Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, but said there would be no change to the police shoot-to-kill policy.

posted by amberglow at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2005


Oh...and that walk to the Farmer's Market? Farmer's Market is set up around one of the city's largest BART (subway) stations.

Heaven forfend I run to catch one of the only-every-15-minute trains after walking through the Arabic neighborhood from home with my backpack full of fresh veggies. While wearing my walkman, and therefore deaf. And never being told "Police! Stop!"

Because, you know, the area within a block of that station is the somewhat dangerous Tenderloin, and I might think not to stop for armed folk, as armed robberies happen there from time-to-time.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2005


Anyway, Heywood you should return...according to the protocol you yourself endorse...you shouldn't run away.

After all...those that run away, can be shot.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:29 PM on July 24, 2005


Anyway, let's hope they catch the people responsible for the last, failed set of bombs. Catch them alive, I mean.
posted by Termite at 1:37 PM on July 24, 2005


Agreed, Termite...but the wrong-headedness and bad blood rising from the shooting of Jean doesn't help expidite matters.

Another reason the British should re-visit what's what and how it's done.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:41 PM on July 24, 2005


Amberglow: That blows.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:45 PM on July 24, 2005


and the victim (who might not have understoof that these were plainclothes police, rather than criminals,

it's been repeated enough already, but this is really the key point. To suggest that the victim was stupid for not grasping that the anonymous armed attackers behind him were police, but that the police were not stupid for failing to grasp that the anonymous, unarmed man in front of them was innocent, is just contradictory.

In the heat of the moment, it is entirely understandable that any involved parties could have missed important data - they were all freaked out & adrenalized. But if you're going to blame the victim for misjudgments, it is only reasonable to hold the cops responsible for misjudgments as well. Everyone fucked up, and the result is tragic.

However, only half the equation were meant to be professionals, and only half the equation had the weapons, so I still think the fault lies with the police. If he had been a bomber, I don't see why chasing him would make him less likely to switch his trigger, and I don't see why shooting him would be considered a safe action. Especially if you've already got him on the floor - fucking handcuff him!

Their actions were unjustified even if he had been a terrorist, unless they had had very specific information about precisely what sort of explosives / trigger he had and how to circumvent it. Which - obviously - was not the case at all.
posted by mdn at 2:09 PM on July 24, 2005


"more people could be shot"

Well isn't that grand. But I suppose even that statement is immune from criticism now. Let's not rush to judgement... just rush to kill?

mdn: However, only half the equation were meant to be professionals, and only half the equation had the weapons

Exactly. I really don't understand how anyone could so easily accept what happened as inevitable. It's not even a productive attitude in terms of increasing security.
posted by funambulist at 2:28 PM on July 24, 2005


but said there would be no change to the police shoot-to-kill policy.

There will be a change, however, in my future travel plans.
posted by telstar at 3:16 PM on July 24, 2005


There's an old saying about how you should never run from anything evil. It only attracts it's attention.
posted by Balisong at 3:44 PM on July 24, 2005


There will be a change, however, in my future travel plans.

You're not the only one. (guardian--Terror fears scare off tourists )
posted by amberglow at 3:59 PM on July 24, 2005


I just have to say: I can't believe how many people here have chosen to blame the victim. Like they would be all Captain Cool and make the "right" decision in Mr. Menezes' place. I cannot say exactly what I would do if confronted by angry men with guns. I might, oh, I don't know, panic and try to run for it. If I did, would I deserve to be shot? The fear gripping Londoners can provide an explanation for this, but not an excuse. Anyone telling themselves that they shouldn't feel sorry for this guy because he made the wrong choice in a crisis, should be ashamed.
posted by apis mellifera at 4:24 PM on July 24, 2005


The mechanical hound cannot find Guy Montag, so it slaughters a man walking on the street. The TV-watchers cheers, the clowns come back on, and the war goes on...
posted by JGreyNemo at 5:06 PM on July 24, 2005


My hypothesis - he was stoned and paranoid. This is Stockwell we're talking about.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:13 PM on July 24, 2005


If the police had let him run on the train and he blew himself up and killed a bunch of people the headlines would have read "Police fail to act" or "The cops let him do it" or some other crap.

I can see the headlines.

"Vaunted Scotland Yard Intel Service Embarrassed by Terrorist Youth."
"Third Day of Terror: Police Stand by While Bomber Sprints onto Train."
"Metafilter Sees Record Number of Neener Comments: Internet-based experts have field day mocking Blair's antiterror failures."
posted by shoos at 7:26 PM on July 24, 2005


shoos: “I can see the headlines.
No, you can imagine those headlines. Or make them up. Or speculate about them.

The ones you can see are:
He was law-abiding. We blame the government for his death
Shoot-to-kill to continue, say British police.
Brazilians mourn death of man in London bomb hunt.
etc...
imagine |= see
posted by signal at 8:03 PM on July 24, 2005


shoos - some of us actually realize that stopping a terrorist who is determined to do something at the cost of his own life is pretty damned hard to do

it also seems to me that if the victim was a terrorist and wanted to take a few people out with him, he had ample opportunity to do so ... he was on a bus ... he was in a busy underground ... he even had a bunch of cops close to him ... and he must have passed quite a few crowds

but no bang ... you'd think that someone would have wondered about that ... didn't any of the officers stop and wonder why their "terrorist" had passed up so many decent opportunities to commit terror?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:06 PM on July 24, 2005


Here's to you, internet experts!
posted by shoos at 8:10 PM on July 24, 2005


funambulist : "And when only the police know they're the police, and what everyone elses see is a gang of armed men in plain clothes?

Oh, right, let's all keep ignoring that little detail and blame the victim. This refrain is seriously starting to sound a little too grating."


I'm not ignoring that detail, nor am I blaming the victim. I am not intoning that refrain, so what appears to be grating on you is your own misreading. My statement is merely a response to Dunvegan, who was unaware of "the rules" of whether you should stop when police tell you to. My response is only tangentially related to the case of Menezes. If you know that the police are telling you to stop, the safest thing is to stop. If you don't know that the police are telling you to stop (or you don't know that the people telling you to stop are the police), it depends on the situation. I'm not blaming the victim, because I don't know which of those cases is true.

funambulist : "We're all potential terrorists.

No we're not. Otherwise the police and intelligence would be unnecessary and we should all just lock ourselves up."


No, because one isn't locked up for being a potential terrorist, but for surpassing a certain threshold of potentiality. Thinking the government is bad -> Not criminal. Imagining blowing up political figures -> Not criminal. Planning detailed steps / schedule for blowing up political figures -> Legality depends on what country you're in. Purchasing equipment that can be used to make a bomb in order to execute that plan -> Legality depends on what country you're in, but odds of illegality are higher. Assembling a bomb in order to execute the plan -> Almost certainly illegal, probably as assembling the bomb is a crime in itself. Carrying bomb into crowded are -> Illegal. Blowing up bomb -> Illegal.

funambulist : "And the only way you'll know for sure if someone is a terrorist is if they set off a bomb/otherwise kill folks.

No, you can actually catch terrorists before they do that, Israel has been doing this for years. It's called intelligence work."


If they haven't done it, they aren't a terrorist yet. Israel has been catching people who clearly surpass the threshold of suspicion for years. That's called intelligence work. They've been foiling terrorist plots for years. They've been catching people who have already committed terrorist acts in the past. But it's pretty much by-definition impossible in the very strictest definition to catch a first-time terrorist. It's convenient conversational shorthand to call someone who most clearly was planning on and capable of carrying out a terrorist act "a terrorist", but in reality what are being caught are people who are believed with strong evidence of being on the verge of commiting terrorist acts. In other words, highly suspicious people.

bugbread : "But we grant the police the power to kill potential terrorists."

funambulist : "The police, in police uniform, shoot when a criminal or suspect criminal they are pursuing hasn't stopped after repeated attempts and even there, they only shoot to kill if there is a threat, otherwise immobilising them is enough."

"A threat" is another way of saying "potential violence". Now I think you're just quibbling with words.

funambulist : "Now, if the rules have changed recently and it's ok even for undercover agents in plain clothes to skip the identification and warning part altogether...I'd be appalled"

As would I. My entire argument is directed cases where cops identify themselves. In cases where cops don't identify themselves, my conclusions would be different. Hence my mantra of "until we get more information, making conclusive statements about the issue is silly."

Bugbread: "If a guy walks on the train, pulls off his jacket to show a vest full of explosives, and pulls out a trigger, most rational folks would say the cops have the right to shoot him (if otherwise disarming him seems impossible)."

funambulist: "But that is nothing like what happened here, that's the problem."

Indeed, it isn't, or we wouldn't be having any discussion. That statement was a link in my argument, not a direct comparison to the current situation.

Bugbread: The question isn't if cops have the right to kill potential terrorists: most people would agree that they do.

funambulist: "You don't know what 'most people' think."

Good point. My assumption was that if a person removed their jacket in a train station to expose a vest full of explosives, and pulled out a trigger, and threatened to pull said trigger, that most people would agree that cops have the right to kill said potential terrorist. People may not agree, though, and I was taking it for granted.

funambulist: "The only way in which that kind of totally arbitrary shoot to kill policy you're describing"

I never said it was totally arbitrary. The situation I'm describing would be one with non-arbitrary rules regarding what type of threat is considered a 'serious' threat.

funambulist: "as opposed to a necessary shoot to kill policy strictly based on certainty of clear and present danger"

Again, "danger" = "potential injury/violence/death". The policy of mine that you state is opposed to the policy of yours would appear, to me, to be the same policy.

signal : "the over reaching efforts by many people here to justify public employees shooting an innocent man 5 times in the head are very disenheartening."

As are the over reaching efforts by many people here to draw any conclusion without enough information. Thank god I've never had a jury trial with almost any of you, from either side!

Bugbread: "I disagree with Heywood's arguments that the police were clearly right as well"

Heywood Mogroot : "I haven't said that, and that's not what I think."

Sorry, then, I must have misread something. Apologies.

sfenders : "So what reason do you think they likely had for acting as though he had a bomb, other than just over-active imagination? Something we don't know about?...they made the leap to 'he has a bomb, take him out!' all on their own, based on nothing but fear and paranoia."

What reason do you think that they had nothing but fear, paranoia, and an over-active imagination to make said leap? Something we don't know about? And what are your standards for determining which imagination is over-active, and which isn't, which fear is justified, and which isn't, and which fear is paranoia, and which is grounded?

If I decide to run across a busy freeway, my mom will probably shout "stop!" If I don't, and happen not to get hit by any cars, was her fear of me being hit by a car just "over-active imagination" or "paranoia"? After all, in reality, I didn't even get touched by a car.

Again, I'm not saying that they definitely are or are not justified, but I'm seeing an "ends before means" argument here: that the conclusion determines whether what comes before it was justified. A lot (thankfully, not all) of the arguments being made here for how the police were clearly not doing the right thing because, in the end, he didn't have a bomb, could also be used to justify a situation where police just shoot some random kid walking down the street as long as afterwards it turns out he's carrying a bomb.

sfenders : "You start to see threats (or 'potential terrorists' as you put it) everywhere. It isn't healthy. It's appropriate if you're at war, I suppose. So if you see the whole world as being at war with the terrorists, and are okay with thinking of every big city as a permanent war zone from now on, I guess that would explain it. But it's still insane."

I'd find it insane to think otherwise (or, if not insane, critically lacking in knowledge of biology). Anyone is a potential murderer, thief, rapist, swell person, genius, volunteer, juggler, or ice-cream salesman. Sometimes strokes cause people to behave differently. Sometimes accidents cause stimulation to parts of the brain bringing out talents unmanifested until then. Sometimes extenuating circumstances forces non-thiefs to steal something to buy insulin for their kids. To say that "not everybody is a potential whathaveyou" is to believe in predestination from birth, and a fate based mindset that I find one of the many insane sides of many religions.

mdn : "If he had been a bomber, I don't see why chasing him would make him less likely to switch his trigger, and I don't see why shooting him would be considered a safe action."

Ok, given the theoretical basis that he had been a bomber, the answers that occur to me are that 1) chasing him wouldn't make him less likely to switch the trigger, but less likely to be able to switch it in an area where greater damage would take place, and that 2) considering that triggers are far easier to conceal and use than weapons, handcuffing is less effective for preventing trigger activation than for most things we think of cuffs being used for (prevention of use of weapons, and making fleeing difficult).

funambulist : "I really don't understand how anyone could so easily accept what happened as inevitable."

I was under the impression that Heywood accepted what happened as inevitable, but he has indicated otherwise. I myself do not find it inevitable. So now I'm wondering: who exactly is that comment directed at? Who is finding it inevitable?

apis mellifera : "I can't believe how many people here have chosen to blame the victim."

Who has done so? I've said that it's possible the victim was partially responsible. Heywood has clarified along the same lines. Who is your comment addressed at?

apis mellifera : "Anyone telling themselves that they shouldn't feel sorry for this guy because he made the wrong choice in a crisis, should be ashamed."

Again, who the hell is saying that one shouldn't be sorry for the guy, or that the whole thing isn't a damn strategy?!
posted by Bugbread at 9:36 PM on July 24, 2005


Let me just quote the best comment in this discussion so far, for those that have joined us late.

nanojath : "Reading this thread is like a crash course in why the political dialog of communities, governments and nations consistently goes nowhere and why human society is probably inevitably ultimately fucked.

Shit I don't know: I don't know why this man was being followed. I don't know why he was accosted by the police. I don't know why he ran. I don't know why he was shot. You know what? Nether does any person participating in this discussion.

But Jesus y'all are ready to get on the fucking soapbox and start pontificating hypotheses that just happen to conveniently support your preexisting political proclivities, aren't you just, tho?

I'd say the majority of people would opine that a police officer would be justified in shooting an individual who was either directly threatening their life with a weapon or threatening the lives of one or more individuals with an explosive device. Clearly that was not the case here.

I'd also say the majority of people would agree that a police officer would be utterly unjustified in walking up behind an innocent individual and unloading their gun into their back without warning and for no reason whatsoever. Clearly that was not the case here.

Everything else is utter bullshit. The significance of his appearance? His mode of dress? Did he understand that police were ordering him to stop and comply with them? If so, why he did not comply? Why he was shot? Why five times? I don't know. There is no reliable information available on any of these issues, at least as far as I have heard to date.

Any 'theories' I might concoct about these things are less than useless. My uninformed theories actually cloud the slim facts available about the case. And unfortunately, some of the answers we will never know. We'll never know why he bolted. He is the only person who knew that and we'll never ever find out. Some further evidence (say a pocket full of cocaine) might present a likely theory, but we'll never know. Beyond this, the honesty of the police about the motivations of their conduct may be proportional to how much error on their parts resulted in this killing.

I believe I'll suspend judgement on the disposition of why this happened and what it means, though, as long as so little information on the actual chain of events is available. I'm confident that there will be a lengthy investigation that may shed some light on it. Maybe I'll have an opinion then."

posted by Bugbread at 9:38 PM on July 24, 2005


(Oh, sorry, one clarification: when I ask "Who is finding it inevitable?" and "who the hell is saying that one shouldn't be sorry for the guy", I'm not saying "Nobody is finding it inevitable" or "Nobody is saying one shouldn't be sorry for the guy", I'm saying "I can't think of anyone finding it inevitable, or saying that one shouldn't be sorry for the guy". So those are actual, real questions, not obnoxious ways of saying "nobody is saying that")
posted by Bugbread at 9:42 PM on July 24, 2005


bugbread: I think you may have taken my belief that the police apparently acted "understandably "as belief that they necessarily acted correctly.

I don't know what their training and policies are for this type of encounter, and it is possible that once the guy jumped the turnstile their critical competencies stopped and reactions/adrenalin took over.

There are actually some reasonable questions, like why they didn't pat the guy down for concealed explosives before killing him, but given the immediate context (previous day's attacks, guy emerged from same apartment block, prolly/allegedly dressed "suspiciously") I understand why the police decided that his potential for being a suicide bomber was high enough not to take any chances once they collared him.

And just because I think blaming the police is premature and not necessarily consistent with the facts as we know them, I do not blame the guy either. The attempt to stop him at the train station may have been chaotic, for all we know he could have thought these guys coming after him were AQ and the safest place to be was down in the tube.

Lemme also say I detest the rightwing asshats who are calling this guy a noble sacrifice for the War on Terror. I expect that level of asshattery from them, but I'm slightly flummoxed by the many asinine "liberal" reactions I see on atrios, gilliard and here. If this was an execution to eg. intimidate moslems I'd understand, but the facts as I see them indicate events outpaced either the police's doctrine, training, or experience.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:26 PM on July 24, 2005


but the facts as I see them indicate events outpaced either the police's doctrine, training, or experience.

extend this judgement to the entire force prosecuting the "war on terror" and, by george, I believe you've got it.
posted by telstar at 10:43 PM on July 24, 2005


telstar writes "by george, I believe you've got it"

He he, so we come full circle and ended up on the other side!

Can't find the den Beste comment now. There's a chellenge for someone.
posted by asok at 12:26 AM on July 25, 2005


Earlier I posted:
Heck, for all the guy could tell, they might have been a bunch of rowdy hooligans out to kill themselves an Arab. Given recent events, it's a quite understandable fear to have.

Recent interviews with his friends reveal:
Fausto Soares, another Brazilian friend in London, said that perhaps Mr. Menezes ran because a confrontation with an English gang several weeks earlier had made him especially worried about being chased.

He had every reason to run his ass off. Blaming the victim here in any way is simply wrong.

This isn't even rocket science. His behavior is just basic street-smarts, something which any decent cop is supposed to understand.

These results are probably due to out-of-touch, ivory-tower "anti-terrorism" tactics, which (as usual) just fuck things up even more than they already are.
posted by PsychoKick at 12:44 AM on July 25, 2005


I'm imagining being a darker-skinned Londoner in the current climate of "kill-the-pakis" sentiment from the right. And being latched onto by several plain-clothes whites who yell at me and try to take me down. What do I do? I run and fight for my life.
posted by telstar at 1:41 AM on July 25, 2005


Blaming the victim here in any way is simply wrong.

I'd agree if he hadn't hopped the turnstiles. That sends the wrong message ("hey, I'm off to blow up a crowded train now!") to the folks chasing him. What happened after that was equivalent to him running out onto a dual carriageway and getting creamed by a truck.

As I've said several times, don't fuck around in the London Underground right now.

What gets me is people blaming the police here, the dozens of crap posts calling it hysteria, an execution, out-of-touch "anti-terror" tactics. It's possible the plain-clothes tactics will need revision, but the hysterics I'm seeing here just make the liberal side look like pussies and people terminally disconnected from the reality of the threat and methods of the terror bombers.

betaray's nonviolent position is consistent and almost sensible and I can respect that, but people criticising various actions of the police without understanding what policies are in place and why these policies are in place is really fucking annoying, as is trying to find anything holes in their developing story.

I hate to say this, but it's like you guys are either putting anti-Blair partisianship before sense or trolling me and bugbread good. Or you guys are just underinformed idiots. That's possible too I suppose.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:24 AM on July 25, 2005


HM: Being an admitted underinformed idiot, would you be kind enough to please explain how you can argue that:

I'd agree if he hadn't hopped the turnstiles. That sends the wrong message ("hey, I'm off to blow up a crowded train now!") to the folks chasing him.

...without accepting that he did in fact know that it was the police that were after him, a fact which is as of yet unclear, to say the least.
posted by talos at 4:32 AM on July 25, 2005


>I'd agree if he hadn't hopped the turnstiles. That sends the wrong message ("hey, I'm off to blow up a crowded train now!") to the folks chasing him. What happened after that was equivalent to him running out onto a dual carriageway and getting creamed by a truck.

I'd hardly compare a traffic accident to a shooting.

>What gets me is people blaming the police here, the dozens of crap posts calling it hysteria, an execution, out-of-touch "anti-terror" tactics.

It's because of these kinds of stupid, basic mistakes:
Having found the address in a backpack left behind by one of the bombers in the failed attacks on Thursday, the police were watching the building where Mr. Menezes lived. But they failed to realize, apparently, that there was more than one apartment there. So when Mr. Menezes left the building to go to a job on Friday, they followed him.

The building was a public housing project to boot; the possiblity of multiple apartments should have been obvious.

This level of professional incompetance is inexcuseable. Worse yet, the real potential bombers that were being watched in the first place now damn well know that they were specifically being watched, and will be even more difficult to catch in the future. By taking the life of Mr. Menezes, these cops have prematurely revealed their hand to the real potential bombers, perhaps even contributing to public endangerment.

>betaray's nonviolent position is consistent and almost sensible and I can respect that, but people criticising various actions of the police without understanding what policies are in place and why these policies are in place is really fucking annoying, as is trying to find anything holes in their developing story.

Screw the whole "procedure" red herring, this was an example of plain old stupidity and incompetant cops. No amount of procedure can excuse or explain that.

And frankly, I find incompetant work to be annoying, especially when it kills and endangers the very people it is supposed to protect.

Hell no, not just annoying. It makes me downright hopping mad.

>I hate to say this, but it's like you guys are either putting anti-Blair partisianship before sense or trolling me and bugbread good. Or you guys are just underinformed idiots. That's possible too I suppose.

I live in NYC, so I don't give a shit about Blair. I also don't post to this site enough to be a troll; I only post when something strongly motivates me. So if demanding competant, professional police work makes me an idiot, then I'll proudly be an idiot.
posted by PsychoKick at 4:38 AM on July 25, 2005


I'm not ignoring that detail, nor am I blaming the victim. I am not intoning that refrain, so what appears to be grating on you is your own misreading. My statement is merely a response to Dunvegan, who was unaware of "the rules" of whether you should stop when police tell you to. My response is only tangentially related to the case of Menezes.

But we are discussing the case of de Menezes, bugbread! *not* a case of police in uniform pursuing someone who was caught doing something illegal, or even suspected of doing something illegal, or even someone they knew for certain was connected to the terror attacks, and even in that case, they had all the time to stop him from his flat to the station, and it would make no sense to allow him to get on a bus and stay on it for thirty long minutes.

Dunvegan was not at all "unaware" of the rules that if you're stopped by police in uniform or identifying themselves clearly otherwise, you should stop. He is aware that this actual case was not so clear cut by far.

If you know that the police are telling you to stop, the safest thing is to stop. If you don't know that the police are telling you to stop (or you don't know that the people telling you to stop are the police), it depends on the situation. I'm not blaming the victim, because I don't know which of those cases is true.

bugbread: so far, the police are not unequivocally stating they identified themselves or how they urged him to stop, in fact, their spokesmen are unequivocally stating it is no longer considered necessary.

Can you understand how that is a cause of concern in itself?

Also, they issued contradictory statement from one day to the next, first they were certain he was linked to the investigation, then they had to admit he wasn't.

That's not a great way for police to handle such a tragic mistake, even more so if they just go around saying it could happen again, and Sir Ian Blair was using the "yeah it's unfortunate we're very sorry but what if he'd been a terrorist, we have a brilliant investigation going on, so let's move on" line which leaves a very bad impression. Of course the investigation must move on, but you have to explain what happened, and they can do so in better terms even while being careful with statements before the investigation. First because they owe it to the family and friends of de Menezes, regardless of whether they will seek legal action or not, secondly because they owe it to the whole British public, not to mention foreigners who will have to travel to London, since what's at stake is the sense of security and trust in the police, and openness and accountability has to be greater precisely because of the context of terror attacks and alerts.

The standard cannot be simply "what if he'd been a terrorist"! It's irresponsible for a police chief to say something like that.

Even if you disagree, surely you accept that the public can have opinions on that, right?

So, I honestly don't know what your point is, it seems to me you've been doing a lot of shifting back and forth between different situations and different arguments, and when you insist on the rules and "he should have stopped" knowing full well that this was *not* a situation where police were in uniform and that they didn't stop him anywhere in the half hour it took for him to get from his flat to the tube station, well, blaming the victim is what that leads to. If that's not what you're saying, then please accept my deepest apologies for getting that impression, but please do make more of an effort to take in the other details, and the reasons why others are outraged.
posted by funambulist at 4:54 AM on July 25, 2005


But it's pretty much by-definition impossible in the very strictest definition to catch a first-time terrorist. It's convenient conversational shorthand to call someone who most clearly was planning on and capable of carrying out a terrorist act "a terrorist", but in reality what are being caught are people who are believed with strong evidence of being on the verge of commiting terrorist acts. In other words, highly suspicious people.

Sorry, that's plain nonsense, bugbread. It's not impossible at all, even "first-time terrorists" have networks, they are not isolated individuals who wake up one morning, go buy some explosives at the local shop, get on a train and set them off!

With that and your "everyone is a potential terrorist", you're muddling the distinction between "looking suspicious" and actually being part of a terrorist group that the police and intelligence have the capability of identifying, because it's their job. Someone who didn't get caught wasn't just someone who was "highly suspicious", it was a terrorist who didn't get caught. When the Israelis foil plots, plot is the relevant word. Those guys were planning attacks, duh. Of course police and intelligence can't always prevent that and catch terrorists before they attack, but that's quite a stretch from saying it's impossible. Come on...


"A threat" is another way of saying "potential violence". Now I think you're just quibbling with words.

Oh please. A clear and present threat, with a far greater degree of certainty than this case, where the only official elements given by the police for following this guy were: coming out of a block of flat under surveillance, wearing a jacket (in the oh so tropically hot temperature of 20-ish degrees) and running away from armed men who were not wearing police uniforms. Again, even if they were sure he was connected to those under surveillance, they had all the time to stop him in a proper manner before he got to the station. He'd gotten on a bus already. How does that square with the suspicion he was carrying explosives? And how does shooting him after you've already immobilised him physically square with that suspicion? If he'd been shot from a near distance, but without having been pinned down already, it would at least make more sense.

Sorry to get sooo repetive, but it's impossible to ignore those details and just focus on the guy running from a bunch of armed men. Like others said, the professionals are these officers, whoever they were, undercover police or specially trained forces. In the absence of patently wrong behaviour by the victim, that's the people we need to hold accountable.


My entire argument is directed cases where cops identify themselves. In cases where cops don't identify themselves, my conclusions would be different. Hence my mantra of "until we get more information, making conclusive statements about the issue is silly."

But we do have some information on the facts already, from both official police statements and eyewitness reports: they did not identify themselves, the police were in plain clothes, and it's not clear if and what they shouted to him, and if and what he heard, and the police spokesmen are taking pains to say it's not even necessary to identify themselves. You can't ignore that and keep arguing about a different case where cops unequivocally identify themselves as cops.

We're only ordinary people here, not judges, we're not making "conclusive statements", we do have opinions though, not least on holding the police accountable for what they do. Many people are naturally angry and worried that this could happen at all and may happen again, and the police reinforcing that notion is not helping. I find it incredibly sad and enraging, precisely because I hold the police to high standards and realise the urgency of the job they have in such a situation and the necessity not to spread further panic. I had some hopes after they admitted it was the wrong guy, that they could at least make it clear this sort of terrible mistake was not going to happen again, but if they're warning that it can, then they are saying it's an inevitable consequence of terrorism. In fact, Sir Ian Blair said so in not so many words. "We wish we didn't have to, but...".


My assumption was that if a person removed their jacket in a train station to expose a vest full of explosives, and pulled out a trigger, and threatened to pull said trigger, that most people would agree that cops have the right to kill said potential terrorist.

Then yes, by all means, I assume so too. In fact, I'm absolutely certain that not just most but all people will definitely agree, because that by all definitions is a certain, clear and present threat, but that is so not the case here, and that's the whole point.

So please let's stop confusing that situation with what happened here. They're completely different.
posted by funambulist at 4:59 AM on July 25, 2005


Who is finding it inevitable? Who has done so [blame the victim]?

Based on a quick search for "stupid" in this thread, here's a few random examples:

one: "His death was the result of a very specific combination of circumstances, including, apparently, his own stupidity."

two: "But he jumped a fucking turnstile and kept running which does make him very, very stupid. He put himself in the situation; he made one bad decision after another."

three: "Seems kinda stupid to go to a foreign country, not learn the basic language, and run from uniformed officials." - this one even got the available facts completely wrong...

And there's lots more, do your own browsing. Those blame the victim views have indeed been expressed clearly in this thread, not to mention among general reactions and comments from readers on the bbc site or other news sites. I don't see how it's possible to pretend otherwise!

The idea that this was inevitable (and again, that's also been implied by the police statements on the shoot to kill policy), the guy had it coming, that it's his fault for not stopping, his fault for jumping the turntstiles, what he did was stupid -- all the while ignoring the plain-clothes police detail, and the not-stopping-him-before-the-bus detail, and the they-had-him-immobilised-already detail, and the wrong-guy detail.

So, Bubgread, feel free to consider yourself *not* included among those reactions, if you are sure you disagree with them, but that doesn't mean they haven't been voiced. In fact, it's impossile for anyone to have missed them altogether.
posted by funambulist at 5:13 AM on July 25, 2005


calling it hysteria, an execution, out-of-touch "anti-terror" tactics.

Sure seems likely that it was a kind of hysteria, the kind where the psychological pressure of a real-life conflict situation shuts down your reason, and you go into full-automatic kill mode. It's possible to imagine variations, like maybe the arresting team was told, or thought they were told, "he has a bomb". In which case it would have been someone other than them getting hysterical.

(I had to look up hysteria: "unmanageable fear or emotional excesses. The fear is often centered on a body part, most often on an imagined problem with that body part. People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to the overwhelming fear." Close enough.)

it's like you guys are either putting anti-Blair partisianship before sense or trolling me and bugbread good.

I felt the same way about you a couple of times. See, that's why this thread is so good. People say things that look like they must be trolling, but you know they aren't. It's spectacular.
posted by sfenders at 5:48 AM on July 25, 2005


since Gladwell was mentioned: He's quoted, with others, in the Guardian about what happened: ...I would say a well-trained and experienced police officer will put himself or herself in that situation as little as possible. The function of training is to avoid ever having to shoot to kill ... I don't think some blanket statement that it's never justified is helpful but ... when you look at instances where police shoot innocent people there is ... some failure of training, some failure of perception, some circumstance that could have been avoided.

In my book I talk about the Amadou Diallo shooting in New York, which was police shooting ... an innocent man thinking he was a criminal ... You find what seems like an accident was something that could have been avoided. ...

posted by amberglow at 5:59 AM on July 25, 2005


It's now looking increasingly likely that Menezes knew he was running from authorities of some type:
Shooting victim had expired visa (BBCNews, Monday).
posted by Onanist at 6:32 AM on July 25, 2005


It really doesn't matter who he thought he was running from. Whether he was justified in running away (probably not) is entirely irrelevant to the question that matters. If he had in fact, by some bizarre coincidence, been carrying a bomb, they would still have been wrong to kill him without any evidence of that fact.
posted by sfenders at 6:53 AM on July 25, 2005


Well, the relatives deny that the visa had expired, but even if it were true, how likely would it be for someone, who had even told his family how much safer it was in London than in Brazil and how not even the police carried weapons, to imagine that any authorities would be chasing after him with guns in a crowded tube station, all for an expired visa, instead of simply paying him a visit at the flat?
The Met is also expected to face a claim for compensation and damages from the dead man’s family, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Stephen Waldorf was awarded £120,000 after he was shot and beaten in 1983 when officers mistook him for a dangerous armed robber.

It may be months before the results of the investigation are known. ...

Key questions for the enquiry

At what point did police decide that the suspect was a potential suicide bomber?

Should they have arrested him before he boarded a bus on which he could have set off a device?

Police say that his clothing and behaviour at the station added to their suspicions. What did he do?

Armed uniformed officers often carry out this type of arrest. Why were they not available for what must have been a large operation?

Were the police clearly identifiable when they went to stop Mr Menezes?

Sir Ian Blair said that he understood the officers challenged the suspect. What did they say and when?

Was the force they used proportionate to the threat that Mr Menezes, who had fallen to the ground, seemed to pose?
posted by funambulist at 7:21 AM on July 25, 2005


Training is everything.
Once you have a gun, you tend to think things can be solved with it. This is not to say I think the officers were wrong. I still haven’t got enough info to make a truly educated response, but I am reminded of a Chicago woman who was shot while reaching for her cell phone. Given that situation and the uncertainty there, I probably would have just broken her nose (it’s better than shooting her, but oddly I’d be more open to a lawsuit for police brutality)
In this case, given the uncertainty (I think he’s got a bomb) I’d open fire. Unfortunate, but understandable.Perhaps excusable, perhaps not. If the Brits have the IA eqivalent of a Q & A, it should all come out in the investigation.
(Any shooting with uncertainties should warrant an investigation)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:39 AM on July 25, 2005


fumnabulist, your comments are very, very good. I would just add that, having lived in a foreign country for many years, there are still a number of things, both cultural and linguistic, that I fail to grasp on a visceral level. I know, for instance, that in stressful situations, like arguments or angry driving situations, my speaking skills go out the window and my "American-ness" comes to the surface, thus maybe making me more aggressive than I should be, or less tolerant of the yelling and hand-waving that goes on here, but which doesn't mean the same thing it does back in the States. None of which would make me less responsible for not adhering to the law here, or beating somebody up, or going over the line, but it would explain my behavior to people who otherwise might just say: what an idiot, he's been living there for years, how could he not have understand the law and the cultural signals?
posted by faux ami at 11:27 AM on July 25, 2005


Those blame the victim views

yes, I think it was stupid for the victim to jump the turnstile a day after the bombers started up again.

If he had been fatally shot in front of the station, I would be protesting this along with you. Him jumping the turnstile and boarding an assumedly crowded train changed the dynamics of the encounter, perhaps irretrievably, it depends on the policy, training, and how well the officers followed it.

I think that's all I've "blamed the victim" for. If you disagree that jumping the turnstile is no big deal then that's where we part rhetorical company I guess.

And as for the position that he shouldn't have been shot in any circumstance unless he had an actual bomb, that's great in theory but put yourselfs in the position of the cops. To get confirmation of a bomb you've basically got to see the device with your own eyes (under this standard even pat-downs wouldn't be good enough since the thing could be something else) and make the determination that it is a bomb.

"Excuse me sir, is that a suicide bomb on you? Ah, yes, I see it is. Mind if I attempt to deactivate it?"
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:20 PM on July 25, 2005


...without accepting that he did in fact know that it was the police that were after him, a fact which is as of yet unclear, to say the least.

I'm assuming the undercover people indentified themselves sufficiently. To the extent this is not true then he was not stupid to attempt to run away. But jumping the turnstile in any case was simply Not The Right Move with this threat condition.

I don't "blame" the guy if this was a panic move, either for immigration or fears of being attacked, figuring out all possible evolutions of an act like that is impossible.

Which is why I think it was equivalent to getting creamed by running out on the roadway. Once he jumped the turnstile with law enforcement on his tail, the law enforcement would likely jump to some rather irreversible conclusions about the guy's intent.

It is arguable that the cops could have handled the situation differently on the train, but this is a nightmare snap decision situation -- suicide bombers in crowded locations really change the dynamics, and the guy just had too many points in the possible suicide bomber category for anyone to be able to revisit the decision in cool retrospect.

I don't think it was automatic that the guy got whacked in the train, my SWAG is 70-100% were we to be able to run the events over with different actors.

If I can break down the particular contributing indicators (toward getting shot dead) and how they rose as the events unfolded (these numbers are for getting whacked after running from cops, they hopefully approach 0% if the guy had followed their instructions).

1) Emerged from same apartment block: 5-10%
2) Islamic-looking: 5-10%
3) Casual dress, hat covering face: 5%
4) Bulky, allegedly unseasonable jacket: 15%
5) Jumped the turnstile: 20-40%
6) Ran onto crowded train: 20%

IMV, the jumping the turnstile part is the most significant and is the most unknown factor. I don't know the police's training, but I can imagine the "Oh Shit!" moment once they saw him do that.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:38 PM on July 25, 2005


Next time the bombers will pre-purchase tokens.
posted by Balisong at 3:54 PM on July 25, 2005


funambulist : ȫut we are discussing the case of de Menezes, bugbread! *not* a case of police in uniform pursuing someone who was caught doing something illegal, or even suspected of doing something illegal, or even someone they knew for certain was connected to the terror attacks, and even in that case, they had all the time to stop him from his flat to the station, and it would make no sense to allow him to get on a bus and stay on it for thirty long minutes."

Yeah, butȍunvegan is asking a general question. If you have a problem ofȍunvegan's question being divorced from Menezes, take it up withȍunvegan!
ªnd, again, as always, my answer is in the framework of "what one should do when being asked to stop by people that one knows are police". If you don't know they're police, different rules apply: run like hell, and try to avoid having a clear line of site drawn on you. Try to move to a crowded area, where they are less likely to shoot you for fear of witnesses. If possible, run towards a place where you know there are real police.

You can print that out too,ȍunvegan.
¯unambulist ȭunvegan was not at all 'unaware' of the rules that if you're stopped by police in uniform or identifying themselves clearly otherwise, you should stop. He is aware that this actual case was not so clear cut by far."

Then he shouldn't pretend to be unaware of the rules.

funambulist : "the police are not unequivocally stating they identified themselves or how they urged him to stop, in fact, their spokesmen are unequivocally stating it is no longer considered necessary. Ȍan you understand how that is a cause of concern in itself?"

Of course I can. I think that goes beyond "being a cause of concern" to "being fucking insane". If a bunch of guys in plain clothes run at me with guns and just say "Stop right there, asshole", I'll probably run towards the most crowded, public, and twisty place I know.

funambulist : "the police spokesmen are taking pains to say it's not even necessary to identify themselves. You can't ignore that and keep arguing about a different case where cops unequivocally identify themselves as cops."

Yes, and no. You can't ignore that because it's a fucking awful policy and needs to be overturned. However, the policy isn't that police can't identify themselves, so, once again, you still have to pay attention to whether the cops in this case identified themselves. (They might have, even if they didn't have to, or they might not have, because they didn't have to, resulting in very different conclusions, even with the same policy)

funambulist : "In fact, I'm absolutely certain that not just most but all people will definitely agree, because that by all definitions is a certain, clear and present threat, but that is so not the case here, and that's the whole point. "
®xactly so. The issue here isn't whether the police were right and wrong for shooting a guy who they found "sufficiently suspicious" (i.e. suspicious enough to be considered a clear and present danger), but whether this guy was suspicious enough for that police evaluation to be correct. It's similar to the type of discussion that should happen when a person holding a toy gun gets shot by police: was the situation sufficiently resembling a clear and present danger for the police to take action, even though it turned out to be a toy gun? Was it fluorescent red and yellow, with tubes coming out? Was it black and metal, but with a big red stopper in the barrel? Was it detailed just like a real gun? Was it being held by aȅ year old? Was it being held by a― year old? Was it being held by someone matching the description of a robbery that happened two blocks down? Was it being pointed at the cops?

You have to admit that the people defending the police are essentially saying that it was a clear and present danger that didn't pan out, and the people attacking the police are saying that it wasn't a clear and present danger. ȏrom the position of partyȊ, the shooting is justified. ȏrom the position of partyȋ, it wasn't. THe issue, then, is if it was a clear and present danger or not, not whether "police can just shoot anybody they feel like whenever they feel like" or some of the other canards being tossed out.

funambulist : ȫased on a quick search for 'stupid' in this thread, here's a few random examples...And there's lots more, do your own browsing."

True, but I'm probably one of them, and I've since corrected some stuff said in haste or which was unclear. Heywood has done the same. So my question about "who is saying it?" is really about who is saying it, not who has said it once and then retracted or clarified out.
posted by Bugbread at 4:22 PM on July 25, 2005


Next time the bombers will pre-purchase tokens.

Obviously, but that was the point of attempting to stop the guy before he got into the station, if that is when the initial contact took place.

Jumping a barricade after the police identify themselves is an escalation of the situation.

If they guy had been wearing a t-shirt and shorts (ie easier to make out the lack of bombing gear), or, indeed, blond haired and blue eyed (a population not known for being suicide bombers currently), then the police would have been much less justified in plugging him.

But emerging from a location under interest, looking something like a suicide bomber, dressing something like a suicide bomber, acting very much like a suicide bomber, these things added up into him getting plugged with 5 shots to the back of the head. Yet you guys still fail to understand this.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:28 PM on July 25, 2005


No, I understand it fully.
The Jihadis will recruit a blond haired blue eyed suicide bomber that pays with a token, and is wearing shorts.

That's the trouble with profiling. It's easy to overcome.

What I keep wondering is, why do the terrorists hate our mass transit systems!
Planes, Subways, Taxis, Busses, Trains.
They don't hate us for our freedoms, they hate us because we carpool.
posted by Balisong at 4:35 PM on July 25, 2005


I mean seriously, give this guy a haircut, and he could walk into the White House.
posted by Balisong at 4:57 PM on July 25, 2005


The Jihadis will recruit a blond haired blue eyed suicide bomber that pays with a token, and is wearing shorts.

or better yet kidnap his parents and sister and start torturing them. I understand this, but it is rather irrelevant to the case at hand, since the current suicide bombers and the guy who got shot IMV share sufficient commonalities for the police to understandably shoot first and ask questions later.

Note that I think jumping the turnstile is the act that put this over the line for the cops. They could have over-reacted after that (ie not follow policy), but even if they did it is at least somewhat understandable.

I need to back-track a bit here, since if they over-reacted it is not justifiable. I'm just arguing that we don't know the particulars and whether or not these facts will indicate that the police over-reacted.

The particulars include how islamic-looking the guy was, how hard was it to see his face, how bulky and out of place his jacket was, how clear and professional the cops were in stopping him, and the particulars of the rundown and what he was doing with his hands once in the train.

There's a lot of leeway there for the cops to have been justified, but I do not wish to state that they were necessarily justified.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:08 PM on July 25, 2005


Heywood, why was he allowed on a city bus beforehand?
posted by amberglow at 6:13 PM on July 25, 2005


Profiling is what got us all in fear of white vans in the DC sniper cases.
posted by Balisong at 6:25 PM on July 25, 2005


MORE undercover marksmen were being deployed on the streets of London today amid fears a fifth bomber may be on the run following last week's attacks. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on July 25, 2005


why was he allowed on a city bus beforehand?

I've stated my guesses above.

1) Was it a covert surveillance? Swooping down on the guy immediately outside the building could tip everyone off.

2) I've read anonymously-sourced police statements that they were interested in where this guy was going. I suppose once it turned out to be the subway alarm enough bells rang and they decided that was enough given the alleged bulky jacket and his general appearance.

3) As I attempted to delineate above I don't think the alleged jacket and his looks alone were enough to justify the formation of a "likely bomber" opinion. IE there's possibly more value in just tailing the guy (to see where he goes and whom he meets) than preventing possible damage to a city bus and the people on it.

4) These things develop, and I think the guy developed the situation a lot by jumping those turnstiles.

I don't understand the jibes on profiling. This guy wasn't shot because of a profile, he was shot because he made a series of very stupid moves while somewhat matching the present terrorist bomber profile in London. Not all possible bombers will match the profile, just like the 9/11 folk looked more like clean, friendly engineer types than the thugs they turned out to be. But given the limited police resources, profiling can be a necessary police tool. This instance is one where events showed its weaknesses.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:33 PM on July 25, 2005


If you match the present terrorist bomber profile, then getting on a public bus should have set off gigantic alarm bells, no?
posted by amberglow at 7:36 PM on July 25, 2005


But given the limited police resources....

I do not see any kind of excuse for the British police here, sorry. We are already 4+ years into this "war with terrorism" that one would logically expect "nervousness" errors to be reduced or why not? eliminated. I would expect a much, much better preparation on the part of Scot.Yard.

I am scared, I do not trust this kind of policing...
posted by carmina at 7:45 PM on July 25, 2005


Interesting article - Innocent Man's 26-minute Journey to a Violent Death - with some new details:
"It took 26 minutes for Jean Charles de Menezes to get from his flat in Tulse Hill to the entrance of Stockwell Tube station. In that time, the 27-year-old electrician did not appear to realise that a team of 30 Scotland Yard officers was following his every move.

Police were staking out the red-brick block of flats in Scotia Road, London....There are eight separate flats in the block. When Mr de Menezes emerged from the communal front door just after 9.30am, the police must have realised from the photographs they carried that he was not one of the four bombers.

Even so, they decided that he was 'a likely candidate' to follow because of his demeanour and colour, so one group set off on foot after him.

As he waited at a nearby bus stop, the reconnaissance team sought urgent instructions on whether to challenge him or let him board a bus. They were worried about the bulky, padded jacket he had zipped up on such a warm morning.

The decision was taken to let him go, in the hope he might lead his shadows to the bombers. Mr de Menezes was heading to Willesden Green to fix an alarm system.

....By far the most controversial claim is from several witnesses who cast doubt on police statements that they shouted a warning or identified themselves before firing.

Lee Ruston, 32, who was on the platform, said he did not hear any of the three shout 'police' or anything like it. Mr Ruston, a company director, said he saw two officers put on blue baseball caps marked 'police' but that the frightened electrician could not have seen that because he had his back to the officers and was running with his head down."
posted by ericb at 7:56 PM on July 25, 2005


If you match the present terrorist bomber profile, then getting on a public bus should have set off gigantic alarm bells, no?

The undercover police can't go around stopping everyone who "matches" the profile. For undercover work they have to follow and collect intelligence too. Not to mention the civil liberties angle of living in such a police state. Plus once he was on the bus there wasn't much they could do if/until he got off perhaps.

Back-analyzing the police's actions prior to the guy jumping the turnstile is somewhat pathetic in my view, since the guy in reality WASN'T a present risk so whatever the police were doing was proportionate.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2005


the police must have realised from the photographs they carried that he was not one of the four bombers

other reports have said he was wearing a baseball cap low on his face. Plus just because he wasn't one of the bombers doesn't mean the police had no reason to suspect a connection with that location.

who was on the platform, said he did not hear any of the three shout 'police'

Hopefully the initial stop happened outside the station, since I don't think they guy made a habit of hopping the turnstile to work each day. But it is indeed unclear what happened between him getting off the bus and getting shot.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:06 PM on July 25, 2005


I would expect a much, much better preparation on the part of Scot.Yard.

They seemed rather well prepared to me. The issue is what happened to the guy after he jumped the turnstile.

Don't do that, especially after police (undercover or no) ask you to stop. And should you be so stupid to jump the barrier, do NOT then get on a crowded train. This limits the police's options quite a bit.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:11 PM on July 25, 2005


Seems the police would have plenty of time to ask him to stop if Mr de Menezes called his co-worker Gesio de Avila "moments before the deadly shots to say he was late for work". See article Dunvegan linked.
And since he had time to call his co-worker, it's likely he had time to buy a tube-ticket as well. If this call was happening before he jumped the turnstile why didn't the police approach him then?
posted by dabitch at 11:57 PM on July 25, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "he was shot because he made a series of very stupid moves"

I'm suspecting, based on what you've said, that this is a slip of the keyboard. Wouldn't that be "He was shot because he made a series of possibly very stupid moves"? After all, if the police didn't identify themselves, running for the subway and jumping a turnstile was not a stupid move.

dabitch : "Seems the police would have plenty of time to ask him to stop if Mr de Menezes called his co-worker Gesio de Avila 'moments before the deadly shots to say he was late for work'."

This doesn't relate to whether I believe Menesez was or was not justified in running, or whether the police were or were not justified for shooting him, but: the expression "moments before" in a newspaper isn't worth the photons it takes to read it. It can be used to mean anywhere from 1 second to several hours, depending on the reporter, the editor, and a thousand other (generally sales-related) factors.
posted by Bugbread at 12:54 AM on July 26, 2005


Er, by "this doesn't relate", I meant "what I'm about to say doesn't relate to this specific case", not "your comment doesn't relate".
posted by Bugbread at 1:13 AM on July 26, 2005


Er, sorry about those weird characters a few posts up. Little problem with an auto hex converter.
posted by Bugbread at 1:31 AM on July 26, 2005


Heywood Mogroot, I'm going to be a pain in the ass and insist, not because I believe I can ever convince you or anyone with your views, but because I'm a bit bothered by attempts at describing what happened in terms other than what happened.

yes, I think it was stupid for the victim to jump the turnstile a day after the bombers started up again

Ok, then, I think it was infinitely more "stupid" for a surveillance team in plain clothes to not check that the block they were watching had more than one flat, and identify as suspect a guy presumably not looking pale or blonde enough for London (despite half of London not looking pale or blonde enough for London! I mean, how absurd is it, for appearances to be considered a factor here?) and coming out of the flat above the one under surveillance, yet, despite believing he was a suspect, still allow him to get out the flat without stopping him, go on a bus without stopping him, let him stay on the bus for all that time without stopping him, then out on to the station, and only then chase after him with guns, all the while without even asking for support from other cops in uniform, and when they finally got him, and were holding him already to the ground, and no explosives had been set off by physical contact, go and fire eight shots into the head from behind, in front of terrified passengers - all this the day after the bombers started up again.

Compared to that series of inexplicable actions by police in plain clothes, a guy running from what by all accounts looked like mad men with guns and no uniform, doesn't sound that inexplicable at all to me.

Or, like mdn put it in less words: "To suggest that the victim was stupid for not grasping that the anonymous armed attackers behind him were police, but that the police were not stupid for failing to grasp that the anonymous, unarmed man in front of them was innocent, is just contradictory.


If he had been fatally shot in front of the station, I would be protesting this along with you.

If it had been you? Your brother? Your son? Your friend? What if he'd been a British or American citizen? Nevermind that, if he'd been a British or American citizen killed like this by plain-clothes officers in Brazil, I get the feeling we'd hear no end to the outrage and not a single person would have found excuses for it. The Brazilian embassy in London would be covered in red paint right now.

And please don't even try and say it wouldn't be so.

And as for the position that he shouldn't have been shot in any circumstance unless he had an actual bomb, that's great in theory but put yourselfs in the position of the cops.

I'm sorry, that's not what I said, that's not "my theory". Again, the first mistake was of course following this person for the wrong reasons, not making sure he was a suspect. But even putting aside that for a second, and assuming that mistake is not that serious, and accepting for the sake of argument that that they had good solid reasons to think him a suspect, the ultimately inexplicable thing is not stopping him before, in less crowded places than a tube station, and by getting uniformed police officers to back them up.

Guns or no guns, the sequence of events is worrying.

Not just because he turned out to be innocent and the police had no solid reasons to follow him, but precisely because they thought he was a terrorist. Even if we put ourselves in the cops place and start from that same wrong assumption, it doesn't make sense. Even if he'd been a suspect and not an innocent person, it's how they went about it that is the problem. It's not even careful of the safety of other people.

Why was he even allowed, as a suspect who had been followed right from the moment he left his flat thirty minutes before, to get as far as that? Why does that not make you question the police's actions?

You tried to answer that by saying basically that the situation must have "developed". Don't you think it's developed enough when someone already under surveillance (mistakenly, but still being followed) gets on a bus like the one that blew up two weeks ago? Isn't it insane, to think a suspect on a bus is less of a danger for citizens than in a tube station?

To get confirmation of a bomb you've basically got to see the device with your own eyes (under this standard even pat-downs wouldn't be good enough since the thing could be something else) and make the determination that it is a bomb.

"Excuse me sir, is that a suicide bomb on you? Ah, yes, I see it is. Mind if I attempt to deactivate it?"


Ha ha, very funny. You're pretending the police just reacted to some guy suddenly running off like crazy and jumping the turnstile in the underground for no reason at all. You're "forgetting" they had been following him for half an hour, and let him get on a bus. They didn't go "oh shit" at the last minute!

I'm assuming the undercover people indentified themselves sufficiently. To the extent this is not true then he was not stupid to attempt to run away.

You're assuming something that is not a fact, something that has not been stated by police or witnesses, and something that the police have already covered their backs on by claiming identification is not even necessary.

I'm not even going to respond to your percentage breakdown of suspicion indicators because it's totally absurd that you accept those are reasons for justifying suspicions that lead to deliberate killing.

But regardless of what you think on the reasons for profiling, the behaviour towards a suspect, innocent or guilty, wrong guy or right guy, was still absolutely incomprehensible in this case.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression you and other people seem to think criticising the behaviour of this particular police unit, or the policy that has been made public in order to try and justify it, or the statements that have been made by them, equals claiming all of the police are useless, stupid, irresponsible. It isn't so. You have to understand that the people who are angry and outraged are concerned about security just as much as, if not even more than, those who don't question those actions at all.
posted by funambulist at 1:48 AM on July 26, 2005


bugbread, I'm sorry if this is starting to look like a contest in who's more anal, I hate to be so repetitive but I'm really bothered by this story and some of the arguments used here, and there seems to be a lot of confusion and contradictions in this back and forth.

If you don't know they're police, different rules apply: run like hell, and try to avoid having a clear line of site drawn on you.

But that's exactly what this guy did. So what are we arguing about?

No one knew it was police, not even the witnesses. They only knew after the facts.

funambulist : "the police are not unequivocally stating they identified themselves or how they urged him to stop, in fact, their spokesmen are unequivocally stating it is no longer considered necessary. Can you understand how that is a cause of concern in itself?"

Of course I can. I think that goes beyond "being a cause of concern" to "being fucking insane".


Right, so we agree, in fact, you're putting it a lot more strongly than I did! Again, I'm sorry but it seems to me you keep shifting between contradictory arguments. It's a bit confusing.


If a bunch of guys in plain clothes run at me with guns and just say "Stop right there, asshole", I'll probably run towards the most crowded, public, and twisty place I know.

Agh, that's not "if", that is what happened here. In fact, it's not even clear what they shouted, if anything.

You can't ignore that because it's a fucking awful policy and needs to be overturned.

Well, again, thanks for making my point. Actually, I hadn't even gone that far, because I don't have much trouble with a shoot to kill policy as defined under the strict conditions that it's always been defined as, even before terrorist attacks, and not just in Britain. Clear and present threat to the officer's own safety or other people around them.

The problem is what the police (the chiefs, the spokesmen) are doing here: using this case to justify a much wider and arbitrary application of that principle. They're not even clarifying exactly what they mean by "shoot to kill" policy. You hear a different definition from each spokesman, and all about hypotheticals, and yet, they're saying all this after the killing of the Brazilian guy. It smells of very bad spin.

However, the policy isn't that police can't identify themselves, so, once again, you still have to pay attention to whether the cops in this case identified themselves.

They didn't, otherwise they would have unequivocally stated so, even before the investigation. We know for a fact they were in plain clothes. That's already a big problem in terms of identification. The official statements were very very vague on how they approached the guy, they only said apparently he was "challenged". With the qualifier "from what we've been told".

If they had been hundred percent sure of having identified themselves properly, sure enough to defend it in court, and to be able to prove it with any available witnesses or CCTV footage, they would have said so immediately. Instead, we're being told that's not even necessary. Why would they feel the need to say that, if identification did happen?


The issue here isn't whether the police were right and wrong for shooting a guy who they found "sufficiently suspicious" (i.e. suspicious enough to be considered a clear and present danger), but whether this guy was suspicious enough for that police evaluation to be correct.

Both issues are very much crucial.

It's similar to the type of discussion that should happen when a person holding a toy gun gets shot by police

No it isn't, because there was no toy gun here!

Why do you go out of your way to find analogies to completely different situations, instead of considering the actual case itself? It's maddening.

You have to admit that the people defending the police are essentially saying that it was a clear and present danger that didn't pan out

But that means completely ignoring all the actual available, uncontested facts of how the events unfolded.

It means accepting "but what if he'd been a terrorist" as reason enough to justify the shooting. I'm very very troubled by that.

I'm not sure everyone who makes that argument realises the implications. I'm hundred percent certain they would be outraged by that argument if it had been their son, their brother, their cousin, their partner being shot. Or, again, a British citizen in Rio de Janeiro.


and the people attacking the police are saying that it wasn't a clear and present danger.

It's not just that, because, like I've said about ten times already, even if they believed he posed a clear and present danger, the fact is he had been followed for half and hour and allowed to get on a bus. They believed he was a suspect right after leaving the house, so the danger from their point of view didn't manifest itself suddenly in the station.

So the concern is with both the belief and the way of dealing with it. No matter how wrong that belief was, it still leaves the questions about why they acted like that, precisely because they thought he was a suspect.

THe issue, then, is if it was a clear and present danger or not, not whether "police can just shoot anybody they feel like whenever they feel like" or some of the other canards being tossed out.

They may look like canards, but they are the impression this story leaves, not just because of what happened, but because of how the official statements go about trying to justify it even while admitting it was a mistake.
posted by funambulist at 2:07 AM on July 26, 2005


Plus once he was on the bus there wasn't much they could do if/until he got off perhaps.

Ah come on, Heywood, that is completely illogical. The bus must have had several stops between the point the guy got on it to the point he got off. Also, the path from flat to bus, and bus to station, must have been longer than on single step. They had a whole half an hour of following this guy.

Back-analyzing the police's actions prior to the guy jumping the turnstile is somewhat pathetic in my view, since the guy in reality WASN'T a present risk so whatever the police were doing was proportionate.

That's also completely illogical. He had been followed since the moment he left the house. They said they were suspicious of him since that moment, because of where he came out of.

You're the one "back-analyzing" and grasping at straws, you're assuming something "developed" and mysteriously clicked to make the police go from completely happy that this guy they were following was on a bus, to insanely worried he was getting on a train. Bus, train - please explain the difference in potential impact of a bomb? Calculations on possible number of victims? The cost in replacing a bus vs. replacing a train carriage? The difference in cost between having to close off a road to having to close off an entire tube line? Maybe the officers just hated bus passengers?
posted by funambulist at 2:41 AM on July 26, 2005


Another development, guess what, the "expired visa" statement has been retracted - - from the same BBC link Onanist had posted above:
Both Mr Straw and Mr Amorim said they believed he was living in the UK legally - though there are reports that his precise immigration status is still being checked.

"I haven't got any precise information on his immigration status, my understanding is he was here lawfully," Mr Straw said.
Also, good on the complaints commission for giving a much saner statement than the police did:
Nick Hardwick, head of the IPCC, said the commission needs to find out the truth of what happened "to ensure it can never happen again".

He said that "if people haven't acted in accordance with the law and their training" they would be held accountable.
posted by funambulist at 4:51 AM on July 26, 2005


maybe it really is independent?
posted by amberglow at 4:59 AM on July 26, 2005


funambulist : "Nevermind that, if he'd been aȋritish orȊmerican citizen killed like this by plain-clothes officers inȋrazil, I get the feeling we'd hear no end to the outrage and not a single person would have found excuses for it. Theȋrazilian embassy in London would be covered in red paint right now.
ªnd please don't even try and say it wouldn't be so."


Uh...If he'd been aȋritish orȊmerican citizen killed like this (note: by "like this" I mean "like the information we had when this discussion began", not "the further information we have now"), I would have probably found some other possible explanations by which the police might have been right. I dunno if you'd qualify them as excuses (after all, they would be, like now, theoreticals based on different theoretical positions). Ȋnd "You would sayȊ. ȍon't even try to say you wouldn't." is kind of a silly construct.

funambulist : "accepting for the sake of argument that that they had good solid reasons to think him a suspect, the ultimately inexplicable thing is not stopping him before, in less crowded places than a tube station, and by getting uniformed police officers to back them up. "
ªgree on the second point, given the conditional that uniformed police officers were in the area. ȍisagree on the first point, to the extent that approaching a crowded place like the tube station might be one of the reasons for thinking him a suspect.

funambulist : "Why was he even allowed, as a suspect who had been followed right from the moment he left his flat thirty minutes before, to get as far as that? Why does that not make you question the police's actions?"
ªgain, as stated above.

Oh, and for reference, unlike Heywood, his appearance of being MiddleȎastern (despite not being so) does not factor into my opinion. Whether he was white, black, or rainbow colored would be the same to me.

funambulist : ȭon't you think it's developed enough when someone already under surveillance (mistakenly, but still being followed) gets on a bus like the one that blew up two weeks ago?"

Yes. My argument started before the "he got on a bus" issue came up. My view of statistical likelihood has been tilted by that.

funambulist : "You're assuming something that is not a fact, something that has not been stated by police or witnesses, and something that the police have already covered their backs on by claiming identification is not even necessary."

True. ȋut I'm not assuming it's true. I'm saying that "IfȊ, thenȋ", based on the assumption ofȊ. If notȊ, then notȋ. Ȋgain, I'm not saying that "I assume that they announced themselves as police, therefore they were in the right", I'm saying ȯor the purpose of this theoretical, I'm assuming that they announced themselves. In the case of the theoretical where they did not announce themselves, different conclusions would follow." Ȋnd, again, stating that identification isn't necessary doesn't affect whether they did or did not actually did so. In my workplace, neckties are not necessary, but you would be wrong to assume it is true (for anything other than a theoretical) that folks didn't wear neckties, because most do.

It does, of course, directly affect the second discussion, which is whether, independent of this case, police procedures are appropriate. Saying it's optional to announce yourself as a policeman is, in my opinion, horrible, and definitely something that needs to be fixed.

funambulist : ȫut that's exactly what this guy did. So what are we arguing about?

No one knew it was police, not even the witnesses."


True, and here we hit a weird point of this discussion. I've been talking, this entire time, about whether it was correct or incorrect, given the facts we had at the start, to make the conclusion that the police were definitely in the wrong. Ȋs more facts come out, an answer will become more viable. Given the facts we have now, it increasingly looks like the police were in the wrong. I'm not saying they were right. I am just saying that, at the point that the discussion started, that was a premature conclusion. New facts discovered afterwards do not make the initial conclusion more or less premature, they just prove it correct or incorrect. It's becoming clear that those conclusions appeared correct (again, I don't trust witnesses so much, so I'm going to wait until we see what's on the⃌TV recordings, but right now I'm tilting towards "the police were probably in the wrong").

funambulist : "I'm sorry but it seems to me you keep shifting between contradictory arguments. It's a bit confusing."

Looking at the above, I can see why that is. ȏirst, I started out with a kneejerk reaction to folks, with little initial data, saying "the cops did the wrong thing" as a fact. ʏor instance, my statement that, due to running, the victim was partially to blame, later amended to "the victim was partially responsible"). Ȋfter calming down a bit, and putting my house in order, I started putting forth my actual thoughts, which were not that the police were correct, or incorrect, but that given the little data we had, both seemed possible, and I was tilting towards the police not being in the wrong, but wouldn't bet my hat on it until we got more information. Since then, I've been focussed on the viability of the initial conclusion given the initial facts, putting forth counterpositions which were possible in which I thought the police might be incorrect. So it may look like I'm waffling, but that's not quite the case.

funambulist : "Why do you go out of your way to find analogies to completely different situations, instead of considering the actual case itself? It's maddening."
«ecause when I put my positions forth on the actual known conditions of the case, it doesn't seem to communicate well. I'm trying to find analogies that use the same principles I'm discussing, in hopes that it may clarify the issue (i.e. that "clear and present threat" is a degree of "suspicion of harm", and that, as people find killing people who are clear and present threats to be sometimes justified, our issue is really what degree of suspicion of harm is considered a threat). Perhaps that phrasing makes it easier to understand, but I have a tendency to use analogies to explain my points, and I'm sorry if that threw you.

funambulist : "It means accepting 'but what if he'd been a terrorist' as reason enough to justify the shooting."

Not in my opinion. If the police used a horrible metric to determine what level of suspicion to qualify as a clear and present threat, then we don't need to accept "but what if he'd been a terrorist" to justify the shooting, we need to say "What's the deal with your fucked up metric?!". If we judge the police metric to be acceptable, then we need to accept "there was every indication that he was a terrorist, so shooting him was justified". The deciding factor between "he had every indication of being a terrorist, so shooting was justified" and "the police shot someone for just strolling down the lane in biker shorts" is the metric used for determining whether someone is or is not a threat, not whether the threat turns out to have been real or not.
ªnother analogy (sorry): Shooting guys with vests full of stuff that looks like plastique with wires coming out of it on crowded trains shouting "I've got a bomb, and I'll blow it up inȅ seconds!" = alright by me, even if it later turns out that the plastique was actually play-doh. Shooting random people on the street because "I dunno, the guy had a suspicious glint in his eye" = not alright by me. ȋoth are innocent (er, well, the guy threatening to blow people up is hardly a pure innocent, but he is innocent of being a suicide bomber), but one would probably be accepted by most folks, and one would not. The guy with play-doh posed absolutely no threat (besides panic). However, he would be seen as presenting a clear and present threat. The question is where the line is drawn between seeming like a clear and present threat, and not seeming like a clear and present threat.

Ok, analogy over. Sorry again.

ʊnd a reminder: new information does not factor into my discussion, because I'm not discussing whether the police did or did not do the right thing, I'm discussing whether saying the police did the wrong thing was a premature conclusion as of the start of the discussion, when it started being said.
posted by Bugbread at 6:10 AM on July 26, 2005


(This is unrelated to the topic at hand, but my hex wrangler seems to have mangled a lot of words up there, and I'd like to see if it's fixed (and can't do so without actually posting), so please disregard this post)


And a reminder:
posted by Bugbread at 6:26 AM on July 26, 2005


My argument started before the "he got on a bus" issue came up. My view of statistical likelihood has been tilted by that.

Yeah, well, that fact he got on a bus was known already when the discussion started. As was the fact the police didn't clearly identify themselves, it's only become more and more obvious. You should have kept up, dammit!

But, ok, fair enough, bugbread, I understand you wanted to be extra careful in forming your impressions and changed your view based on reading more news updates about this. You've been honest enough to admit that, thanks, that's appreciated.

So, can we shake hands and pack it in now? we might keep on arguing forever but it'd get very tiresome, and, maddening theoreticals and analogies aside, seems to me you do see the points I and others have been making all throughout, not least that, in your words, "saying it's optional to announce yourself as a policeman is, in my opinion, horrible, and definitely something that needs to be fixed". We absolutely agree on that.

But the debate on this is not only between you and me and other commenters on this site... It's a bigger political issue.

That "if he'd been a Brit killed in Brazil" was not a speculation about your personal reaction, but about the general reaction of the public. I'm certain in that case there would be next to no one bending over backwards to justify what the police did. Look at the comments on the BBC site. Half are angry and worried, half are all, "how dare you criticise the police in times like these". Me, I've been having kneejkerk nausea at the latter reactions, not the former, which I find quite healthy and natural.

funambulist : "It means accepting 'but what if he'd been a terrorist' as reason enough to justify the shooting."

Not in my opinion.


Sadly, though, it is very much so in the opinions of a lot of people, not least those authorities, police and politicians, who did use that very argument. That's what's worrying.

More readers comments on the Telegraph, predictably, the shooting gets more uncritical apologists there. Read them all, very enlightening stuff, for better and for worse...
posted by funambulist at 8:09 AM on July 26, 2005


Funambulist "Yeah, well, that fact he got on a bus was known already when the discussion started. As was the fact the police didn't clearly identify themselves, it's only become more and more obvious. You should have kept up, dammit! "

If that's true, then I apologize. No buses were mentioned in any of the articles in the thread until this article in this post, which was also the first post where the poster mentioned buses. If everyone knew that he got on a bus but didn't find it worth mentioning until more than halfway through the discussion, then...well, I really do apologize, but I find y'all very odd, because that's a big factor for me, and I'm very surprised it wasn't mentioned until then. I suspect, however, that in reality the fact that he got on a bus wasn't known from the start of the discussion, but that it just feels that way because the discussion has gone on so long.

And, as far as I'm aware, we still don't know if the police did or didn't clearly identify themselves. Where was that info presented?

funambulist : "So, can we shake hands and pack it in now?"

Sounds good to me.

funambulist : "Me, I've been having kneejkerk nausea at the latter reactions, not the former, which I find quite healthy and natural."

Understandable. If I'd read those reactions, my kneejerk would have been the same direction as yours (followed, again, by a lot of backtracking and un-kneejerking, ending up in my actual position).

So in Mefi: "The cops were justified! Oh, wait, sorry, kneejerk reaction. I mean to say that, given initial facts, the conclusion that the cops were definitely unjustified was premature, because with what we knew, scenarios where they were and were not justified were both possible."
Me, hypothetically, in BBC site: "The cops were unjustified! Oh, wait, sorry, kneejerk reaction. I mean to say that, given initial facts, the conclusion that the cops were definitely justified was premature, because with what we knew, scenarios where they were and were not justified were both possible."

Same kneejerk, different direction, same final conclusion.
posted by Bugbread at 4:19 PM on July 26, 2005


I think reflexively giving those cops the benefit of the doubt is a more dangerous assumption, on the whole, and may lead to more incidents like this, as opposed to keeping those entrusted with our safety on a very short leash, given that group of cops' history, as mentioned above.

I'd like to know the racial makeup of those undercover cops, and whether London has community policing and outreach programs so that the force looks more like the population?
posted by amberglow at 5:02 PM on July 26, 2005


bugbread: I meant you should have kept up with the news, not just the discussion here. I believe the bus detail was available on the same day, July 23, that the "oops got the wrong guy" statement was made and this thread started. But it may have been the day after, I don't know. I've been following this on both tv and internet so I lost track of the exact time progression of revelations.

And, as far as I'm aware, we still don't know if the police did or didn't clearly identify themselves. Where was that info presented?

See, you didn't keep up, tsk, now we're going to have you arrested and detained for three months, for your own safety... Short recap: undercover agents in plain clothes, that is certain, how exactly they approached the guy is not. They didn't explain officially, obviously, seen as that's going to be a big question for the commission. But based both on all witness reports and that 'oh well it's not even necessary', well, again, it's pretty obvious things weren't unequivocal by far... Sir Ian Blair was interviewed last night on Channel 4 news (you can watch the video, there's a link at the bottom of the page), and he was very evasive on that point too, again with the obvious justification this will be a matter for the investigation.


Side note: one thing in particular that he said in that interview was very... oh I don't even know how to define it. Rephrased from memory: "but we have to stress that the policemen went after this person even as they suspected he may have a bomb, while everyone else would have run away, so they were very brave and we have to recognise that"! Well thank you very fucking much, "everyone else" who is not a police or special forces agent! I was staring at the tv, barely believing he'd said that. Agh. What a way to spin it.


I totally agree with amberglow on this, I do think it is very dangerous to be uncritical about the police behaviour. Here's a good sumup of the reasons why, also this editorial from the Times.

More - thankfully harmless - weird encounters with police: taking pictures makes you a suspect...
posted by funambulist at 2:21 AM on July 27, 2005


funambulist : "I meant you should have kept up with the news, not just the discussion here."

You're definitely right there. To be honest, the little time I have to spend on this issue is being spent on this thread, not on reading additional news about it. We had the biggest earthquake we've had in 20some years here, followed the next day by a typhoon that hit directly, so the news hasn't exactly been filled by this incident (I swear, if I hear another person describe how their house started shaking and a plate fell off a table, I'm going to shout). So I'm probably the least informed of anyone in this discussion about the current status of the issue, or even stuff from initial reports that wasn't linked to here.

funambulist : "See, you didn't keep up, tsk, now we're going to have you arrested and detained for three months, for your own safety... Short recap: undercover agents in plain clothes, that is certain, how exactly they approached the guy is not."

Er, that was the impression that I was under, so I guess I kept up on that point. When I say "we still don't know if the police did or didn't clearly identify themselves", I'm saying "how exactly they approached the guy is not certain".

funambulist : "I totally agree with amberglow on this, I do think it is very dangerous to be uncritical about the police behaviour."

Well, there we all agree, in essence. I think the hard light of inquiry should be focused on the police often and deeply, because police do a lot of shitty things a lot of the time, sometimes as a result of shitty police policies, and sometimes as a result of personal shittiness, and being uncritical means letting that shittiness slide (and the ball of shit gets bigger as it rolls downhill, like a big shit snowball) (how's that for pleasant dinnertime imagery?). I just stress that assuming the police may very well be wrong, and investigating thoroughly, is different than assuming the police are wrong, and investigating thoroughly.
posted by Bugbread at 3:17 AM on July 27, 2005


And the new laws are agreed upon:
Parties agree anti-terror action: The cross-party consensus on new anti-terror plans sends a signal to terrorists of "our unity to defeat them", Tony Blair has said.
Mr Blair was speaking after talks with opposition leaders about introducing new laws, including bans on preparing, inciting or training for terrorism. ...


Regular old "conspiracy" isn't good enough now? (assuming the Brits had laws against that)
posted by amberglow at 6:02 AM on July 27, 2005


is this for real?
posted by amberglow at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2005


amberglow, see comments here.
posted by funambulist at 12:49 PM on July 27, 2005


I was watching C4 news tonight and in a press conference with some of Menezes' cousins, one claimed that she was told by the police that he had not jumped the turnstile but used his travelcard like everyone else. She also said he'd been wearing a denim jacket. This article mentions the above, and other articles like this seem to back up the reference to a denim jacket.

Vivian Figueiredo, said she had asked police for CCTV footage from the station camera. Although she has not yet seen the footage, she was told that her cousin Jean Charles de Menezes had in fact used a travelcard to pass through the barriers.

Speaking at a London press conference today through an interpreter, she said: "I spoke to police on that day and the police told me that he had used a travelcard.


...

During the press conference, cousins of Mr de Menezes expressed anger at reports that an officer involved in the shooting had been given a free holiday to recover from the trauma.

Cousin Alex Pereira said: "To kill someone and take a holiday, to stay there, come back and think you did the right thing - congratulations. They have to make sure they bring him back and punish him.

"They have to bring him back. Don't let him go on holiday and let him think he did the right thing."

He added: "I have been planning my holiday to Brazil for three years. Now I have to go back with my dead cousin. I don't know how I feel."



So far it seems to have gone from a bulky jacket, to a fleece, and now to a denim one.

From one of the articles linked:

At a Brazilian cafe on Oxford Street in central London where de Menezes was described as a regular, owner Luiz de Souza denounced the slaying as "barbaric" and said police owe the public a full explanation.

"Five shots in the back because he is supposed to have too big a coat on?" de Souza wondered. "He comes in here almost every day, he always wears the same jacket. I know this jacket. It is a Levi's jeans jacket."

De Souza dismissed the possibility that a language barrier might have played a role in the shooting.

"Jean spoke very good English. Very good. Better than mine, almost, and I've been here 20 years. He would have understood every single word they said."

posted by Edame at 12:56 PM on July 27, 2005


Yeah, re: the jacket/ticket thing. But it's not about being right, it's about being quick with the initial story to frame an issue to suit the notions that maybe Jean Charles made a mistake and brought it upon himself.
posted by gsb at 12:16 AM on July 28, 2005


those cops should not be cops anymore (and should be in jail), and whoever made up all those lies to tell the public should be gone too.
posted by amberglow at 6:04 AM on July 28, 2005


A new army special forces regiment was involved in the operation that led to the killing of an innocent man at Stockwell tube station in south London last week, the Guardian can reveal. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:57 AM on August 5, 2005


Saudi Arabia officially warned Britain of an imminent terrorist attack on London just weeks ahead of the 7 July bombings after calls from one of al-Qaeda's most wanted operatives were traced to an active cell in the United Kingdom. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:00 PM on August 6, 2005


For those still following this, there's new details emerging from the investigation into the police shooting - I made a new post here.
posted by funambulist at 2:48 AM on August 14, 2005


Erm, link went missing - new post is here.
posted by funambulist at 2:50 AM on August 14, 2005


« Older Calculator Haiku...  |  Yahoo provided "evidence" to p... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments