More than meets the eye...
July 28, 2005 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Everything you thought you knew about Jean Charles de Menendez is wrong. There was no bulky fleece jacket. He didn't leap the barrier at the Tube station. He was shot seven times, not five. Is there anything in the original police reports which the Metropolitan police still considers to be "substantiated"?
posted by clevershark (110 comments total)

 
oops... that's actually seven times in the head, eight times total.
posted by clevershark at 9:18 AM on July 28, 2005


This sucks. (not the post, the situation)
posted by papakwanz at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2005


His name? Jean Charles de Menezes
posted by biffa at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2005


Just to take a devil's advocate stance: can anyone who is not his cousin or Bianca Jagger confirm any of it? It sounds like there are varying perceptions on the details & events and his family may or may not have all the facts either.
posted by highsignal at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2005


So what was suspicious enough about this guy to lead to his shooting? That he was a brown guy living in the same apartment building as one of the suspects? No more? And really, what is with all those lies?
posted by leapingsheep at 9:29 AM on July 28, 2005


The odd thing is that I double-checked the first names but not the surname. D'oh!
posted by clevershark at 9:33 AM on July 28, 2005


can anyone who is not his cousin or Bianca Jagger confirm any of it?

Can anyone other than the Metropolitican police and/or Jack Straw and/or Tony Blair and/or right wing tabloids and/or their readers have a bigger interest in spinning this story as inevitable consequence of terrorism?
posted by funambulist at 9:34 AM on July 28, 2005


I'm with highsignal on this one. This is the first report I've seen stating he acted normally (didn't jump the gate, didn't wear a bulky jacket) and it sounds like it's from a family member who wasn't even there. Are there any other sources before we jump to conclusions?
posted by Moral Animal at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2005


Based on what's written in that story, I don't think we can say definitively that "he didn't leap the barrier at the tube station." His cousin (who wasn't there) claimed that he didn't leap the barrier. Her evidence? "He used a travel card." The investigation should reveal whether his card was used at this particular barrier, and whether witnesses saw him jump the barrier. But it seems that the cousin's opinion is purely speculative.

Also, it seems that the bulk of his jacket might be a matter of opinion....
posted by mr_roboto at 9:40 AM on July 28, 2005


Maybe this doesn't qualify as a doublepost, since we now have the opinion of a relative of the victim to consider /snark, but is there any chance that there is something new to say about this unfortunate incident that hasn't been beaten to a pulp in this thread?
posted by found missing at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2005


Also, it seems that the bulk of his jacket might be a matter of opinion....

While we might have differing ideas on the role of the fashion police, we should probably rethink their policy on "shoot to kill."
posted by leftcoastbob at 9:43 AM on July 28, 2005


Not being familiar with Stockwell, do any London Mefiosos here know if they have those "high doors" type 'turnstiles' that you see in many stations? It's not like you can "jump" those things. To get a free ride you have to go through the 'doors' at the same time as a paying rider.
posted by dabitch at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2005


found missing writes "is there any chance that there is something new to say about this unfortunate incident that hasn't been beaten to a pulp in this thread?"

If you've read that thread you'll notice the number of respondents who said that the shooting was completely justified because of the jacket and the turnstile-jumping. In this story the relatives claim that the Metropolitan police admitted that those two "facts" were wrong.
posted by clevershark at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2005


And really, what is with all those lies?

Rule number one in screwup management, whether it's police or celebrities, government or movie stars: initial statements stick, no matter how many corrections later.

Rule number two: the more lies and spin, the more people become desensitised to it, and the more they lap it all up.

If you haven't got used to it by now, where have you been?
posted by funambulist at 9:57 AM on July 28, 2005


Seven shots in the head? WTF? That's waaaaay overkill. Did they want to make him completely unrecognizable or are they unused to guns that keep shooting if you keep pulling the trigger? Or are they just unused to guns period?

This is a tragic and sad event but it wasn't unexpected, was it? When you have people fearing bombings and suicide attacks, there's a tendency to keep one's finger on the trigger. Doesn't make it right and it looks more and more like the police over-reacted badly in this situation.

But what happens when they don't react so swiftly next time and it IS a bomber and he's able to murder a whole bunch of people? I'm not justifying the police officer's actions but they're put in an exceedingly difficult position to begin with.
posted by fenriq at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2005


So what was suspicious enough about this guy to lead to his shooting? That he was a brown guy

Is it just me or does this man not look 'Islamic' at all or even brown? I may be misunderstanding the term? What does brown mean, anything other than northern european at mid-winter?
posted by scheptech at 10:16 AM on July 28, 2005


Funambulist - You're right, I should be used to it by now. I had this sunny impression, a sort of relief, that the British reaction to terrorism was more honest and fair than the American one. All of the statements they were making sounded good. They were handling matters through ordinary policing, not by detaining every Asian in sight. And even this shooting seemed like a tragedy on all sides. I really don't know what to think now. I guess I just felt disappointed that the model response I was so relieved to see may just have been an illusion. Although I must say, cheers for the British media that this actually came out.
posted by leapingsheep at 10:18 AM on July 28, 2005


we should probably rethink their policy on "shoot to kill."

Doesn't the police always shoot to kill? Is it not a myth that they ever aim for the leg or arm or whatever to just "stop" someone? If he was running from the police (a major error, no matter who you are or where you are), which doesn't seem to be disputed, and he was suspected of being a violent criminal, I don't see how the "new" "shoot to kill" "policy" is different from normal police policy. Whether or not one disagrees with that is a different matter.
posted by loquax at 10:20 AM on July 28, 2005


Seven shots in the head? WTF? That's waaaaay overkill. Did they want to make him completely unrecognizable or are they unused to guns that keep shooting if you keep pulling the trigger? Or are they just unused to guns period?

This is a tragic and sad event but it wasn't unexpected, was it? When you have people fearing bombings and suicide attacks, there's a tendency to keep one's finger on the trigger. Doesn't make it right and it looks more and more like the police over-reacted badly in this situation.

But what happens when they don't react so swiftly next time and it IS a bomber and he's able to murder a whole bunch of people? I'm not justifying the police officer's actions but they're put in an exceedingly difficult position to begin with.
posted by fenriq at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2005


we should probably rethink their policy on "shoot to kill."

Doesn't the police always shoot to kill? Is it not a myth that they ever aim for the leg or arm or whatever to just "stop" someone? If he was running from the police (a major error, no matter who you are or where you are), which doesn't seem to be disputed, and he was suspected of being a violent criminal, I don't see how the "new" "shoot to kill" "policy" is different from normal police policy. Whether or not one disagrees with that is a different matter.
posted by loquax at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2005




Brown? Well, he looks like he could be mistaken for an Arab, who arn't arn't all that brown.
posted by delmoi at 10:38 AM on July 28, 2005


meant to link the picture here
posted by delmoi at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2005


If he was running from the police (a major error, no matter who you are or where you are)

no, he was running from a bunch of men who were not wearing uniforms, and were carrying guns
posted by matteo at 11:04 AM on July 28, 2005


To those questioning how a relative that wasn't even there know what he was wearing or that he used a card, other versions of this story have the family saying the police gave them this information (something the linked article doesn't say outright).

Ms Figueiredo said police told her he was wearing a denim jacket and had used his travel card to get through the station. - BBC
posted by Orb at 11:10 AM on July 28, 2005


After reading the linked wikipedia article above I realize that they didn't shoot him as he was running, but while he was (at least partially) restrained on the ground. That's obviously more than a little irregular. I don't think it changes the fact that if the police do actually have occasion to shoot, they're always shooting to kill, terrorist or not. And when someone is suspected of being a suicide bomber, and they run from the police (assuming that they did clearly identify themselves as such) onto the subway for whatever reason, it is certainly an occasion where I think shooting would be acceptable.

Assassination-style while holding him down, as it appears to be in this case, is clearly a different story, if it's as simple as that.
posted by loquax at 11:10 AM on July 28, 2005


Furthermore they sent two of the shooting officers on paid family holidays. It's the least they can do - killing an innocent man for no apparent reason really clogs up the ol' nostrils, eh gov?
posted by DirtyCreature at 11:15 AM on July 28, 2005


I don't think it changes the fact that if the police do actually have occasion to shoot, they're always shooting to kill, terrorist or not.

Anyone who's been listening to NPR today and heard the interview with Miami's chief of police can acknowledge loquax's statement is false. Fundamental to police firearms training is the strategy to aim for the torso — to "stop" the perp rather than kill him — except in extreme situations like that of a potential suicide bombing in which they aim for the head.
posted by highsignal at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2005


Is there any way to change the tag "menendez" on this post? (Sorry, wasn't sure if this had a quick answer or if it should be posted in MeTa...)
posted by voltairemodern at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2005


DirtyCreature - They certainly weren't going to put them back on active duty.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on July 28, 2005


the strategy to aim for the torso

It's called center mass. It is a "shoot to kill" technique but affords a larger target than a head shot. A "clean" head shot ends reflexive action, like say if they had a gun to someone's head or their hand on a detonation switch.

no, he was running from a bunch of men who were not wearing uniforms, and were carrying guns

I wasn't there, but if I had to guess, I'd say those men we're shouting "Stop, Police!" repeatedly as they chased him. its not like Portuguese for police is that much different. I'm not trying to justify any excessive force, I'm just sayin' its not like he just got up and ran and suddenly was shot. Most police train to identify themselves repeatedly before kicking in a door, drawing a gun, pulling the trigger of a gun, etc. unless they perceive an eminent threat. There were several cops, all perceiving the same threat and the even transpired over minutes, I'd say that they most likely screamed "Police" at Menezes at least a few times.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:48 AM on July 28, 2005


This just in : British police have confirmed that the Brazilian man had been found carrying several mass torture devices. Police chief Ian Blair have praised the bravery of the officers in light of the new information.
posted by DirtyCreature at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2005


Furthermore they sent two of the shooting officers on paid family holidays. It's the least they can do - killing an innocent man for no apparent reason really clogs up the ol' nostrils, eh gov?

It's standard proceedure to put an officer on leave while a shooting investigation is going on. Killing someone, especially by acident in the line of duty is not fun and games, at least not for the sane.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2005


highsignal - I have heard differently about police training (though I can't find any links at the moment that clearly explain things either way). They are trained to shoot at the torso because it is the largest target and they are most likely to hit the the person they are shooting at. The head is a small, terrible target to aim for, and it makes no sense to aim for it unless the target is stationary, and you are using a rifle. Otherwise, the bomber will just blow himself up anyways one the first bullet whizzes by his ear (likely hitting someone else in the line of fire). Shooting someone multiple times in the torso, bomb or not, is hardly "stopping power". The torso is chock full of vital organs, none of which react well to bullets. Police training to shoot at the torso *is* a shoot to kill policy, whether officially described as such or not, and one that attempts to maximize the odds of permanently "stopping" the target. That's why police almost never actually discharge their guns (relative to the number of arrests made), and why there's such a push towards chemical and electrical weapons that stop without killing.
posted by loquax at 11:56 AM on July 28, 2005


According to the Wall Street Journal, "the British capital has more surveillance cameras monitoring its citizens than any other major city in the world. The highly visible gadgets are posted on the corners of many buildings, on new buses and in every subway station." [my emphasis] Wouldn't they have video of the incident, or at least of what he was wearing?

Also, couldn't they have used a taser, like they did to capture one of the bombing suspects?
posted by kirkaracha at 11:57 AM on July 28, 2005


loquax writes "Assassination-style while holding him down, as it appears to be in this case, is clearly a different story, if it's as simple as that."

The argument is that suicide bombers could have explosives strapped to their torso which they are capable of detonating manually, so the only way to prevent a detonation (caused by either bullets to the torso or by the bomber himself) is to shoot them in the head. I'm not sure if I buy this 100%; it seems that if they had the guy restrained, they could have gotten his hands behind him and prevented him from detonating any bomb. I do understand, however, how immediately killing a potential bomber is perceived as the "safest" course of action. It seems like a very difficult scenario to deal with, especially with broad policies as your only tool. I'm not sure that the policy they have in place is the best policy, but I can understand the arguments for it....

highsignal writes "Fundamental to police firearms training is the strategy to aim for the torso — to 'stop' the perp rather than kill him — except in extreme situations like that of a potential suicide bombing in which they aim for the head."

Any shot to the torso is potentially lethal.

kirkaracha writes "Also, couldn't they have used a taser, like they did to capture one of the bombing suspects?"

It seems like in that case, they had managed to separate the suspect from the backpack he was carrying (the potential bomb) before he began to struggle. Since they didn't have to worry about a bomb being detonated, they didn't kill the suspect. Again, it all seems very complex, and difficult to deal with using only broad policies.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:03 PM on July 28, 2005


Did police shout a warning. That detail - like others - is under investigation.
"....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." [source]
posted by ericb at 12:05 PM on July 28, 2005


Thing is, most of what is "known" about Menezes' death was anonymously leaked by "government/police sources". That makes it immediately suspicious in my eyes, especially considering recent examples of such behind-the-scenes media manipulation in both the US and the UK.

After all, do you remember what happened the last time British police enforced a shoot-to-kill policy?
posted by Skeptic at 12:18 PM on July 28, 2005


Just to take a devil's advocate stance: can anyone who is not his cousin or Bianca Jagger confirm any of it? It sounds like there are varying perceptions on the details & events and his family may or may not have all the facts either.

If you read the article, the title actually says that the Metropolitan Police are admitting that Menezes wore no bulky jacket and did not jump any turnstiles. That's not the family saying so, it's the police admitting it. I highly doubt the police would allow the focus to meander away from terrorism unless they knew they couldn't get away with it. I've seen a lot of quotes from eyewitnesses to the shooting saying that they heard no shouts or warnings.
posted by krash2fast at 12:30 PM on July 28, 2005


Let's say a man does have a bomb strapped to their chest, or at least you think they do. A tazer is going to send a large jolt of electricity into the bomb, that does not sound like a really good idea. A shot to the torso is going to most likely hit the bomb, again, not so good.

I, for one, will wait until the tapes are released/leaked to make a judgement call on this one. I believe in excessive force, but I also know that most cops are not just walking around waiting to shoot someone in the head.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:31 PM on July 28, 2005


krash2fast says: If you read the article, the title actually says that the Metropolitan Police are admitting that Menezes wore no bulky jacket and did not jump any turnstiles. That's not the family saying so, it's the police admitting it.

Huh? Are you reading the same title I'm reading? To wit:

"Brazilian did not wear bulky jacket

Relatives say Met admits that, contrary to reports, electrician did not leap tube station barrier"


The key phrase there is, "relatives say". I'm not arguing whether they are right or wrong, but I am saying that your assertion is wrong.
posted by found missing at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2005


BBC News: Brazilian's visa expired in 2003
posted by derbs at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2005


Also, as if somehow a newpaper headline is proof of fact. Ha!
posted by found missing at 1:03 PM on July 28, 2005


In the US at least (and I'd assume the UK as well as we have visa treaties out the wazoo) your visa is not what gives you the right to remain in the country. It is only a hall pass to get in and out of a port of entry. A person with a visa to study and work in the US could easily remain here fully legally for years on an expired visa.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:12 PM on July 28, 2005


found missing writes "Huh? Are you reading the same title I'm reading?"

Now that's interesting. They changed the title. It was definitely as described by krash2fast earlier today.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:15 PM on July 28, 2005


Shit, on second though, I might be wrong about that.... I'm very confused, please ignore me.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:19 PM on July 28, 2005


I could be mistaken for an Arab. I am swarthy. Dark in summer. I get five-o'clock shadow like Fred Flinstone thirteen seconds after I shave — "Pooof!" instant Ringo Starr. I have a Romanesque nose. And with my natural distrust of all authority and generally aggressive nature... I... well... I look shifty. If anybody could be mistakenly shot it could be me.

There are plenty of Muslims extremists who are not Arab - specifically Balkan Muslims or Central Asian Muslims who would not fit a racial profile.

For example: I am on a plane. I see a middle eastern looking dude (now this has actually happened since 9/11). Maybe he's sweaty and nervous. It's natural for me to regard him with caution and even perhaps a bit of paranoia. I deputize my self. If he tries something I will be on him. But I have to understand a couple of things. It's likely HE is thinking the same thing about ME. So there we are glaring at each-other waiting to go ninja on each others ass. There is nothing racist in this. We are programmed by media. It is the lizard brain acting on generalized information that has now sunk so deep into the subconscious that it's hard to rationalize away completely. Human nature.

What IS racist and deeply troubling is when an entire system behaves this way. Cops are shooting innocent dudes because the system has grown so paranoid and reactionary. The point of a government is to NOT be a collective reflection of our individual paranoia and fears. Political communities should be our better natures manifest.
posted by tkchrist at 1:23 PM on July 28, 2005


If you've read that thread you'll notice the number of respondents who said that the shooting was completely justified because of the jacket and the turnstile-jumping.

Not "completely justified", just understandable and perhaps justified, depending on police policy, training, etc. No wonder we argue this so pointlessly. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS I AM TYPING?

Lee Ruston, 32, who was on the platform, said he did not hear any of the three shout 'police' or anything like it.

If the material fact that he jumped the turnstile holds, then one could assume the police identified themselves up at street level and not down on the platforms.

Should he have indeed jumped the barrier, I think the police went into "Oh Shit!" mode. This is just speculation, but the guy was doing a lot to confirm their judgement that he was a suicide terrorist.

Obviously this was the incorrect induction, but I am rather sickened, saddened, and perplexed by all the anti-police blather here and elsewhere. It's unproductive and simply stupid IMV. Putting yourselves in the police's shoes that day is recommended. What do you do with suicide bombers running around blowing dozens of people up?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:25 PM on July 28, 2005


Obviously this was the incorrect induction, but I am rather sickened, saddened, and perplexed by all the anti-police blather here and elsewhere

I agree on the whole. I would not want to be in the cops shoes. I likely would have done the same. But the police general strategy is non-productive and an over-reaction so much so as making these sort of incidents inevitable.
posted by tkchrist at 1:34 PM on July 28, 2005


I thought the whole point of the exercise was to get us thinking Tasers are good (which they really aren't - i read something like 130 people have died in the US, and they seem to taser anything that moves). The 'uniformed' police tasered the "chilling" plastic-suited rucksack-wearing dawn raid guy after they shot the innocent underground-riding Brazilian electrician, while in 'plain clothes' you see. Will the press be asking to choose which kind of policing we prefer, I wonder?

I still haven't worked out why he was wearing a rucksack when he got dawn-raided. Do suicide bombers wear them in bed too? My friend in London tells me everyone is getting major rucksack paranoia. I think he should invest in a briefcase.
posted by laweeez at 1:38 PM on July 28, 2005


Cops are shooting innocent dudes because the system has grown so paranoid and reactionary.

If the alleged facts that a) he jumped the turnstile and b) was wearing clothing that made it difficult to determine there was nothing bulky on his torso hold then I understand why the guy was thrown to the ground and shot in the head 7 times.

If this act had happened on the street outside the station, or even in a relatively empty corner of the platform then it would have been unwarranted in any case. But the alleged act of jumping the turnstile and running onto a train, combined with his apparently middle-eastern / mediterranian /north african appearance AND the alleged bulky jacket severely reduced the police's options once the guy hurriedly put himself in a crowded place like that.

btw, I don't see any probative value in the present fpp cites so I'm just ignoring it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2005


But the police general strategy is non-productive and an over-reaction

I am disposed to agree with this. National Guard in the airports, and the whole TSA kabuki is largely counterproductive and generally a colossal waste of time (unless cockpits aren't as hardened as we think they are).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:44 PM on July 28, 2005


A person with a visa to study and work in the US could easily remain here fully legally for years on an expired visa.

? This was NOT how it worked in Japan, for me. People on expired visas get booted out of the country and told to never come back.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:48 PM on July 28, 2005


I believe the simple key to all this is issuing every citizen his/her own personal suicide bomb pack that must be worn in public at all times. Hey you wanna blow us up? Fuck you! I just us all up first!
posted by tkchrist at 1:52 PM on July 28, 2005


"The department's statement said Mr Menezes arrived in the UK on 13 March 2002 and was granted entry for six months as a visitor. He applied for leave to remain as a student, which was approved and he was granted leave to remain until 30 June 2003. We have no record of any further application or correspondence from Mr Menezes."

Well, unless the Home Office has tampered with the evidence, it looks like he was working in the country illegally.

Since the other side doesn't apparently have the synaptic power to punch through a wet paper bag on this issue, lemme say: this is a ~possible~ explanation for Menezes booking when accosted by the police that morning. Hopefully they've got video of the incident so we all'll have an independent way of judging the police's actions, since we just love judging the police's actions so much apparently.

I do agree that we should all focus on making sure this shooting-of-innocent-people doesn't happen again.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:55 PM on July 28, 2005


"Put yourself in the police shoes" will turn out to be the British version of "why do you hate america so much".

I could be mistaken for an Arab. I am swarthy. Dark in summer. I get five-o'clock shadow like Fred Flinstone thirteen seconds after I shave — "Pooof!" instant Ringo Starr.

Now why did you have to say that. I just had a mental image of Ringo being chased by police on grounds of suspicions he is a terrrrist. Like in A Hard Day's Night but not funny. And he gets shot at the end. Nine times. Brrr.
posted by funambulist at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2005


Obviously this was the incorrect induction, but I am rather sickened, saddened, and perplexed by all the anti-police blather here and elsewhere

I believe somewhere in the world right at this very moment two mujahideen are having the following discussion....

MUJ1 : Did you know there were children, women and even a Muslim girl on those trains?! Did they honestly think they were ALL infidels on those trains?? What is wrong with these idiots??
MUJ2: Obviously this was the incorrect induction, but I am rather sickened, saddened, and perplexed by all the anti-mujahideen blather here and elsewhere.
posted by DirtyCreature at 2:02 PM on July 28, 2005


the police are saying his visa had expired by 2 years...
posted by Stars Kitten at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2005


Stars. so is that justification to shoot him ?
posted by ramix at 2:25 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Putting yourselves in the police's shoes that day is recommended."

OK, let us do it:
a) I was sent on a surveillance mission after a lead that someone a certain apartment in a building might be connected to the terrorists. Now, this building has many apartments, so my natural course of action is obviously follow anyone leaving any apartment.
b) I spot a man leaving the building who fills my profile of a terrorist. As outlined in "a", it does not matter to me which apartment the said "terrorist" (let us call him that just to keep things clear) left, so I alert my colleagues and set out to follow him.
c) The terrorist, who might or might not be wearing an excessive coat for the (oh so jolly and tropical) England Summer, under which he might or might not have a bomb, take a bus (one exactly like the one that was blown up some days ago) - I take no action but keep following him.
d) The terrorist leaves the bus and enter the subway, where he might or might not have jumped over the gates. I enter in some sort of berserk mode, a mode which I have not entered when he got the bus
e) I start running after him with my gun in hand and so do my fellow followers. We might or might not have shouted "Police, Stop" (regarded in many serious websites as enchantment words that will paralyze anyone but a terrorist).
f) We manage to jump on the terrorist and immobilize him to the ground. We might or might not have searched him for any bulk package under his clothes while jumping on him.
g) While he is immobilized we shoot him 7 or 8 times in the head, because everyone knows a terrorist has at least 6 lifes to spare.

I just listed it this way to point out that there are many unexplained police actions in the whole incident, not only the shooting. Heywood, I am sorry, but this looks like a very sloppy job followed by a desperate cover-up operation. There are some terrifying possibilities in there. Hopefully the invesgation will be conducted in a serious manner and eventually most of the truth will come out.
posted by nkyad at 2:34 PM on July 28, 2005


the British version of "why do you hate america so much".

Nonresponsive.

I'm just talking about the specifics of this case. Had the guy been plugged out in front of the station I would be protesting and second-guessing just a vigorously as you (since I wouldn't see sufficient cause to treat the guy as a present threat).

But the particulars of the police's story do provide this apparent cause for alarm; if I were a police tactical squadmember called in as armed backup and saw the guy jump the turntstiles and run right onto the crowded train my thought processes would be focused on protecting those people on the train, given recent events in London and the alleged difficulty of determining if they guy had anything bulky on his body (not to mention the possibility his particular clothing choice that morning made him stand out from the crowd as a possible suicide bomber).

Perhaps it will be worthwhile to add the requirement for visual confirmation of suspicious devices before shooting people in the head. There are tradeoffs involved with this, but if people were limiting their criticism to the policy I wouldn't be so testy here.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:38 PM on July 28, 2005


so my natural course of action is obviously follow anyone leaving any apartment.

No, not anyone. One police report has him wearing a hat low making his face hard to ID. Plus he is rather middle-eastern/north african looking so following HIM would be necessary to see who he is and what he does.

I spot a man leaving the building who fills my profile of a terrorist. As outlined in "a", it does not matter to me which apartment the said "terrorist" (let us call him that just to keep things clear) left, so I alert my colleagues and set out to follow him.

POTENTIAL terrorist. Two steps in and you're already misrepresenting the facts.

The terrorist, who might or might not be wearing an excessive coat for the (oh so jolly and tropical) England Summer, under which he might or might not have a bomb, take a bus (one exactly like the one that was blown up some days ago) - I take no action but keep following him.

Sure. Regardless of the allegedly unseasonal jacket, boarding a bus is natural, and we are following him to see where he goes and what he does.

d) The terrorist leaves the bus and enter the subway, where he might or might not have jumped over the gates. I enter in some sort of berserk mode, a mode which I have not entered when he got the bus

Once he is on the bus there's not much police can do if he is a suicide bomber, perhaps. Perhaps they could try to get police on the bus to take him down. Fun job, huh?

And, fwiw, if indeed the police entered "berzerk mode" it allegedly/apparently happpened AFTER he jumped the turnstile and headed directly for the trains. (Having a pass doesn't mean he used it that day).

e) I start running after him with my gun in hand and so do my fellow followers. We might or might not have shouted "Police, Stop" (regarded in many serious websites as enchantment words that will paralyze anyone but a terrorist).

People not stopping when I shout "Police Stop!" raise my adrenalin level. Either the guy is an idiot or up to no good.

f) We manage to jump on the terrorist and immobilize him to the ground. We might or might not have searched him for any bulk package under his clothes while jumping on him.

You've got a possible suicide bomber pinned on the floor in the middle of a crowded subway car. For the sake of argument he's wearing a bulky jacket. You've got milliseconds to make the call here. Where are his hands? Do you have time to pat him down. CAN you pat him down with other cops' bodies all over him?

What a nightmare. The bottom line, for me, is the guy running and hopping onto a subway care limited the police's options quite severely.

g) While he is immobilized we shoot him 7 or 8 times in the head, because everyone knows a terrorist has at least 6 lifes to spare.

It's this kind of nonresponsive crap that makes me think I'm dealing with trolls or dipwads here. Which are you?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:48 PM on July 28, 2005


Hmmm, I think people are making too many assumptions too quickly. While I am suspicious of information coming from "anonymous government sources", I certainly also believe that police, particularly British police aren't usually in the business of summarily executing innocent people. Then again, in the middle of a difficult chase for people who intend to kill as many others as possible and don't mind killing themselves in the process, it wouldn't be altogether surprising if somebody flipped out. Shit happens.

So, why don't we all calm down and reserve our judgment for the time where all the evidence will be available? During that time, we can also try to understand what may happen in the mind of a man who, although "illegal", only aspires to earn a living, when he finds himself surrounded by armed people shouting, as well as what may happen in the mind of a duty-conscious copper confronted with who may be a suicide bomber about to blow himself, the policeman, his colleagues and several scores of commuters literally to Kingdom come...
posted by Skeptic at 2:50 PM on July 28, 2005


the police are saying his visa had expired by 2 years...

Well then perhaps the tabloids should have a poll asking: "should all foreigners with expired visas now be shot in the head? Text 0901 XXX XXXX to vote, Yes or No".
posted by funambulist at 2:50 PM on July 28, 2005


I don't think it's up for debate that he was running from the police (if he wasn't running, they would've just pulled him over to the side, searched him, and been done with it). I also doubt that the police shouted "Hey!" and started chasing him. They most likely shouted "Stop! Police!" or something to that effect. The fact that he took off after this and started running from the police is reason enough to shoot in the US (and now, it seems, in the UK). I'm not saying it's right, but everyone knows that here. You STOP when they say stop.

Now the 7 shots to the head is grotesque and, um, overkill, but I don't blame the cops.
posted by Moral Animal at 2:51 PM on July 28, 2005


so is that justification to shoot him ?

No, for the nth fucking time it's a possible reason for him to run from cops who've stopped him in front of / in the station.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:51 PM on July 28, 2005


The fact that he took off after this and started running from the police is reason enough to shoot in the US

No, it's not.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:55 PM on July 28, 2005


You know, i would bet my worldy possessions that this guy a.jumped the barrier and b.ran away from armed police all the way from the barriers onto a crowded underground train (which is quite a long way incidentally) regardless of what his relatives say.

Does anyone seriously think the officers stealthily followed the guy, waited til he boarded the train, then all piled on and executed him with no warning...?

Get a clue. Firearms officers in this country do not have carte blanche to shoot whoever they fucking feel like! Authorisation was, and always has to be, given from the very top of the force.

It's obvious he did what he did because he was living in the country illegally. It's a real shame, a tragedy for everyone involved, that he chose to run and lost his life for it.
posted by derbs at 3:00 PM on July 28, 2005


"Huh? Are you reading the same title I'm reading?"

Perhaps some people are reading this article that I posted earlier which states:

Ms Figueiredo said police told her he was wearing a denim jacket and had used his travel card to get through the station.

I read variations of the same thing in other stories on what the relatives said during their public statements, but if everyone wants to go on ignoring it, fine. It would seem to me if any media was saying the police told them that, and the police hadn't told them that, then the police would be correcting the media. Or do we not trust the BBC anymore?
posted by Orb at 3:05 PM on July 28, 2005


i would bet my worldy possessions that this guy a.jumped the barrier

I wouldn't. He could been have using his pass right when the police accosted him.

It's obvious he did what he did because he was living in the country illegally

No it's not. We have no idea how clear and professional the stop was.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:10 PM on July 28, 2005


Can I just remind everyone that this investigation, like all other police shooting incidents, is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Can I stress 'Independent' here. This is not a bunch of retired 'old boys' from the force. The IPCC will conduct a thorough investgation and their findings will be about as accurate as you can get, even if it will take a few months.
posted by derbs at 3:11 PM on July 28, 2005


Authorisation was, and always has to be, given from the very top of the force.

Once the guy entered the platform area there was no time for that authorization, and absent live video feeds to the authorizing agent a la the video setup in "Aliens" it's difficult for such real-time authorization to be practicable. The armed guys in the train had milliseconds to apply policy, training, and experience.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:13 PM on July 28, 2005


The fact that he took off after this and started running from the police is reason enough to shoot in the US

No, it's not.


"Reason enough" = "no judge would question it in court"

especially in these circumstances.
posted by Moral Animal at 3:17 PM on July 28, 2005


i would bet my worldy possessions that this guy a. jumped the barrier

If you're wrong, I get first dibs on your furniture (I hope its cool, contemporary and European) and your music collection!

/kidding

Really - everything is all speculation right now. Details will become clearer after the independent investigation is concluded. I suspect that there is a lot of evidence -- such as CCTV footage of Jean Charles de Menezes' 26-minute journey to a violent death.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "It's this kind of nonresponsive crap that makes me think I'm dealing with trolls or dipwads here. Which are you?"

You used this kind of dismissal in the other thread too. Is it really so hard to accept that other people have a different opinion than you? Is it not possible to agree to disagree on this instead of treating people like idiots in both threads?
posted by Edame at 3:23 PM on July 28, 2005


We have no idea how clear and professional the stop was

What, you think the cops shouted "Oi! Muppet! Come 'ere ya cunt!! Don't ya dare go down those apples!"

Haha! Years of training in the world's most regulated Police force, and they forgot to shout "Armed police! Stop" - the thing they were taught on day one of gun school!?

Of course these are all my conjectures. We'll have to wait for the ipcc report before finding what actually happened.
posted by derbs at 3:27 PM on July 28, 2005


It is my understanding that police in the US are not authorized to shoot at fleeing suspects:

"Sheriffs and peace officers who are appointed or employed in conformity with Chapter 8 of Title 35 may use deadly force to apprehend a suspected felon only when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect possesses a deadly weapon or any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury; when the officer reasonably believes that the suspect poses an immediate threat of physical violence to the officer or others; or when there is probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm".

The last case is from Tennessee v. Garner apparently.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:28 PM on July 28, 2005


should all foreigners with expired visas now be shot in the head

Why do people keep cherry picking single facts (as we know them so far) like this or the jacket or the allegedly middle eastern appearance (I don't personally see this one myself, guy looks like an ivy-league preppy to me), or the running, or the turnstile jumping, and ask if such and such should be a capitol crime. Why is it difficult to see that to understand the situation as it happened you have to put all this stuff together and consider it as a whole just like the cops did at the time?

Should wearing a bulky jacket be grounds for execution, should jumping a turnstile result in the death penalty, should failing to stop for police = death, etc..... Please, take a logic break.
posted by scheptech at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2005


Final point! The only 'eyewitness accounts' that the police failed to identify themselves as armed police officers were people who were on the platform.

He was originally challenged by the police before he got to the ticket barriers.

Now i've never actually been in Stockwell tube station, but if they're like any other tube stations the ticket barriers are a pretty fucking long way from the actual platforms! Especially the when it's the Victoria line!
posted by derbs at 3:34 PM on July 28, 2005


Edame, I was responding to the particular inability to understand why the police / anti-terrorist squad member apparently fired a burst into the guy's head. If bystanders are not endangered, firing a burst is preferable to a single shot. We don't know what weapon was used nor its setting, who fired these shots, nor police policy regarding this act. Criticizing the burst as overkill is simply infantile ankle-biting.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:35 PM on July 28, 2005


derbs, I made that point above, and indeed diagrams show the platforms are a turn and down escalators from the wickets.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:37 PM on July 28, 2005


ran away from armed police

go back and start again
posted by funambulist at 3:38 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Criticizing the burst as overkill is simply infantile ankle-biting."

That's your opinion. Implying someone is a dipwad or troll because their opinion differs doesn't seem like the best way to get your argument across to me.
posted by Edame at 3:46 PM on July 28, 2005


funambulist: I don't know what your point is but the covert surveillance team did call the "armed police" in at some point.

We don't know when they arrived at the station, indeed one possible scenario is the covert people attempting to stop the guy but failing, and having them radio to the armed police unit that "he went thataway!".

I do agree that we don't know to what extent he "ran" from the police yet. But, going back to the beginning, this fpp is rather total crap in terms of bringing light to the situation.

Eg. we do now have clearer word on the guy's visa status, contrary to the family's and the Brazilian government's claims, and apparently it wasn't good.

People saying this was entirely justified or entirely unjustified don't have the evidentiary support yet, but lemme just say that deriding the police here is just plain grating and in IMV is in its own way scoring own-goals in the larger debate.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:51 PM on July 28, 2005


Implying someone is a dipwad or troll because their opinion differs doesn't seem like the best way to get your argument across to me.

His other points didn't merit that. Criticizing the particular number of shots into the guys head is trollish, ignorant, or retarded. Feel free to continue if the meta-argument all you want, I've got all day.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:53 PM on July 28, 2005


scheptech: that was sarcasm at people who focus on any single detail (size of jacket; visa; turnstile) to try and explain away the police screwup as justifiable on grounds of reasonable suspicion, whereas, precisely if you put all the details together, not least the fact the 'terrorist suspect' was on a bus for twenty minutes and the agents reportedly decided that was a risk worth taking, it doesn't make any fucking sense.

I don't understand, for ordinary citizens, not spokesmen or politicians, what it so scary about admitting it was a massive screwup? Maybe only through a series of very unlucky coincidences and rushed decisions, but still, the world is not going to end if people acknowledge those specific agents did a horrible job of handling their totally unfounded suspicions, and a worse job is being done in trying to contain the image damage. The police won't admit any of this now, unless they're forced to by a truly independent investigation. But no ordinary citizens are being paid to be their legal representatives. They are, on the other hand, paying for their salary. And holidays. And for the investigation, too. And, don't forget, for the damages to be paid to the family. If those agents had been a private security team privately employed by a private company, you bet they'd have been fired by now. Why do people accept less of a standard and less accountability for public officials?
posted by funambulist at 3:58 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood Mogroot writes "Criticizing the particular number of shots into the guys head is trollish, ignorant, or retarded. Feel free to continue if the meta-argument all you want, I've got all day."

I guess we have a pretty fundamental difference in the way we see things then, and I'm happy to leave it at that (past my bed-time).
posted by Edame at 4:04 PM on July 28, 2005


precisely if you put all the details together, not least the fact the 'terrorist suspect' was on a bus for twenty minutes and the agents reportedly decided that was a risk worth taking, it doesn't make any fucking sense.

The details are assembled in real-time, not in retrospect. I've stated numerous (very numerous!) times that I think jumping the barrier and running onto the train short-circuited the situation for the guy. Everything the police did prior to the ticket gate was proportional since the guy in fact didn't have a bomb.

Once he jumped the gate, if he indeed jumped the gate, the police would reform their judgement of the situation.

People running from the cops are treated differently than potential suspects under covert surveillance. Why is this so hard to understand?

what it so scary about admitting it was a massive screwup?

Because under similar circumstances the same thing may happen again, and the police will be correct in shooting to kill a bomber on a crowded train.

Why do people accept less of a standard and less accountability for public officials?

Why are you spouting a bunch of unfounded propositions?

The matter is under investigation now. Answers take more than a week to produce.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2005


Edame: 40+ times in the head would indeed be overkill. But if the policy allows shoot to kill at close range, 8 bullets is a fraction of a second from a gun on automatic.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:08 PM on July 28, 2005


"potential suspects"

LOL. Sorry about that abuse of the language.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:19 PM on July 28, 2005


You yourself just said that we don't even know what kind of gun was used and yet you seem to feel confident enough to say what is or isn't overkill.
That's not where I think our views fundamentally differ anyway, it's that you can say that someone's opinion "is trollish, ignorant, or retarded." seemingly just because you don't agree with them (you don't have any more facts than they do). It's not like it's the first time you've dismissed someone like that in relation to this topic. Anyway as you've said, you have all day, I don't, and I'd be derailing even more by going on about it. I'm happy to agree to disagree.
posted by Edame at 4:33 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood, these were not machine guns, they were pistols. They shot him seven times in the head (if the new reports are to be believed and I have no reason not to believe them), that is overkill. If the cops were using machine guns or submachine guns if you want to be precise, there would have been massive collateral damage and many, many bystanders shot.

Seven pulls of the trigger shoots seven bullets from a handgun. They held this guy down and shot him seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. If that isn't the absolute epitome of overkill then I really do not know what is.
posted by fenriq at 5:10 PM on July 28, 2005


You yourself just said that we don't even know what kind of gun was used and yet you seem to feel confident enough to say what is or isn't overkill.

There is a limited universe of guns and shooters here. One likely possibility is SAS-type guy with a HK submachine gun. Or there could be a regular special-police type with an automatic pistol. Or a regular pistol could be used.

In any case, 40 shots to the head would be particularly peculiar since that would require several guys firing long bursts (in a crowded train that seems pretty dangerous to everyone involved), or one guy firing a VERY long time, 1 or 2 seconds.

If we knew the police only had semi-automatic weapons, then 8 shots would also seem somewhat peculiar, since to unload 8 shots at the guy's head one at a time at close range does strike me as perverse, and if multiple guys each fired 2-3 shots in a short period of time then that also strikes me as perverse and dangerous.

(you don't have any more facts than they do)

But I am not criticizing the police actions from this lack of facts. I think people who here who are either ignorant, trolls, or dolts (take your pick), especially in this particular case since it is entirely possible one guy with an HK got on the guy and fired the minimal automatic burst possible to kill the Menezes.

It's not like it's the first time you've dismissed someone like that in relation to this topic.

I've also reacted this dismissive way to people either not understanding or minimizing the significance of the alleged bulky jacket. The anti-police side has been painting this as a red herring or whatever, while I think it is a critical part of the story as to why Menezes ended up dead, for the reasons I've stated here many times. In fact, if Menezes wasn't wearing a particularly bulky jacket then I think suspecting the police overreacted on the train is more justified.

How unseasonal the alleged jacket was is also important, but the reports are all over the map on this so it's pointless arguing it now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:16 PM on July 28, 2005


fenriq: "these were not machine guns, they were pistols"

source? Given this was apparently a counter-terror squad, the could have been machine pistols.

Mark Whitby, a passenger on the train Menezes had run onto, said: "one of [the police officers] was carrying a black handgun—it looked like an automatic—He half tripped… they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him." Another passenger, Dan Copeland, said: "an officer jumped on the door to my left and screamed, 'Everybody out!' People just froze in their seats cowering for a few seconds and then leapt up. As I turned out the door onto the platform, I heard four dull bangs.


I guess the four dull bangs precludes the HK hypothesis.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:20 PM on July 28, 2005


Everything the police did prior to the ticket gate was proportional since the guy in fact didn't have a bomb.

Huh? But they believed he had one, even before he got on the bus, based on the area he came out of, and the clothes he was wearing. They believed he was a suspect from the moment he left the house. That's why they followed him.

"As he waited at a nearby bus stop the reconnaissance team sought urgent instructions on whether to challenge him right away or let him board a bus. They were worried about the dark, bulky, padded jacket he had zipped up on such a muggy morning.

The decision was taken to let him go, in the hope that he might lead his shadows to at least one of the bombers.
"

No one is going to explain in any reasonable terms why bus passengers were viewed as more expendable than tube passengers. Not even the police attempted explaining that. But it's lovely to see people trying to outdo the official PR. It fills me with hope about exporting democracy in the Middle East.
posted by funambulist at 5:29 PM on July 28, 2005


But they believed he might have had one, even before he got on the bus, based on the area he came out of, and the clothes he was wearing.

Fixed it for you.

That's why they followed him.

You don't know the exact reasons. Looking vaguely middle-eastern (and with his hat allegedly covering his face) they wanted to find out more about this guy. In covert surveillance you learn more by surveilling, not stopping people.

The police apparently had people on the bus with him, so he was being monitored and I don't see the particular risk of continuing the surveillance on the bus.

No one is going to explain in any reasonable terms why bus passengers were viewed as more expendable than tube passengers

It's a judgement call. He apparently walked 2 minutes to the bus station. He could have been stopped on the way but that would end the covert surveillance and blow the guy's value as a lead, and the entire surveillance of the original apartment block for that matter.

Second guessing the police here is also pretty fricking ankle-biting here. How many people were on the bus. How do you take out somebody on a bus. Perhaps more value in subduing him, should he prove to be a bomber, would be gained by monitoring what he does on the bus. Buses themselves are more replaceable and more survivable (being relatively open-air) than trains and the enclosed spaces of the underground, with less people on them, and easier to isolate the guy than have him enter a busy train station.

It fills me with hope about exporting democracy in the Middle East.

Unresponsive bullshit, as usual from you.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:59 PM on July 28, 2005


Just on a side note, is there any chance we can get these London cops to give shooting lessons to cops in major american cities? We hear all the time about cops firing 100+ rounds and hitting the victim maybe once or twice, sometimes not at all. These cops not only hit him, but hit him in the head numerous times. Wrong or not, they sure can fire a gun.
posted by nightchrome at 6:14 PM on July 28, 2005


Heywood, I don't need a source to cite. If they shot at him with machine pistols, not all those bullets would have hit him in the head, there would have been bystanders with bullet wounds in them. And they for damned sure wouldn't have hit him with each shot and no possible way could they have hit him 7 times in the head with a machine pistol. Unless they had the gun against his skull when they shot him.

Have you heard any reports of bystanders getting hit by stray bullets? I haven't.

nightchrome, do you really want our cops to have someone in custody on the ground so the cops can shoot him at point blank range in the head and then be wrong about the guy's guilt? I sure don't
posted by fenriq at 6:41 PM on July 28, 2005


I was referring to their ability to hit a target, not their ability to determine if someone ought to be shot or not. I am perhaps naively assuming these cops did not shoot him at point-blank range.
posted by nightchrome at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2005


He got on the bus--he obviously had a pass or paid his fare--why does anyone believe the jumping the turnstile at the subway story? Can't you think? This is more stupid than the bullshit about Deep Throat being a traitor. I'm sure there are brains in there somewhere. C'mon--he got on a bus. He rode a bus. No one stopped him, even tho supposedly they thought he was a suicide bomber. And they followed him on that public bus and rode along with him and didn't stop him at any point. Think about that.
posted by amberglow at 7:25 PM on July 28, 2005


You don't know the exact reasons.

Neither do you, neither does anyone. But that quote about the bus decision was from the reports based on what emerged from the police about why they did what they did. It's them, not me, saying why they decided to follow the guy and why they took the decision to let him on the bus despite the risk.

I don't even understand what sort of crazy argument you're trying to make about there being less of a danger on the bus. But that's you making up weird reasons for the police actions, not me.

I've also reacted this dismissive way to people either not understanding or minimizing the significance of the alleged bulky jacket.

Your "significance of the alleged bulky jacket" is someone else's "bullshit about something that couldn't possibly justify the degree of suspicion that leads to killing a man". Your "anti-police side" is someone else's "people who actually do hold their paid public officials accountable when they do screw up". And on and on and on and on.

But hey, if criticising the police is unproductive, then, criticism is unproductive. End of discussion.

Unresponsive bullshit, as usual from you.

Well, we're going to have to disagree on that too, although, I admit it's hard to rise to your standards of classy, clever, ballistically and grammatically correct debate. I've spent all my patience in the first thread, easy sarcasm is all I got left now. Cheers.
posted by funambulist at 7:39 PM on July 28, 2005


amberglow: the jumping the turnstile bit is believed because it was quoted in all earlier reports as "eyewitnesses said they saw the man jump over...". Not sure I recall if these were anonymous or those who spoke to tv and were named in papers, but the latter seemed only to have seen the last bit of the chase and the shooting.
posted by funambulist at 7:51 PM on July 28, 2005


Maybe they wanted to see where he was going and when it turned out to be the tube station they shifted into apprehend / prevent entry mode which failed obviously and then by some pre-established order, shifted into kill mode once he was in the tube already.

I bet the official inquiry will indicate the officers main error was in failing to prevent him from entering the tube. I bet once he's in the tube they're following some pre-established kill order since the tube was the main target of the earlier attacks, so that won't be the issue. We'll see but that's my guess, there was no kill order outside the tube but once in, the rules were different and the officers unecessarily failed to stop the situation from escalating all the way into that zone.
posted by scheptech at 7:53 PM on July 28, 2005


And they for damned sure wouldn't have hit him with each shot and no possible way could they have hit him 7 times in the head with a machine pistol. Unless they had the gun against his skull when they shot him.

I think it was very likely he was shot from point blank range, when he was down, in the back of the head. Not a pretty picture.

But hey, if criticising the police is unproductive

The criticisms I've seen here have been very infantile. There are criticisms to be made here, and if the facts as we know them now were different I'd be making them too.

But with the facts we have now I just don't see what the policies the police need to change.

Should a different set of facts emerge, like if he passed through the wicket relatively normally, and/or the interception was screwed up somehow (eg. the first thing they said was "Hey! Stop!" instead of initially clearly identifying themselves as undercover police), he wasn't wearing an unseasonably heavy or particularly form-disguising jacket, etc. etc. then there is more leeway to second-guess the cops and form the judgement they over-reacted to the situation.

I'm just saying with their actions are plausible with the facts we have now.

But that's you making up weird reasons for the police actions, not me.

I knew that was a forensic set-up, but anyway. My point with those conjectures was just pointing out some possible upsides for letting him ride the bus unmolested. It's an interesting question and I hope the people involved have the opportunity to explain their decisionmaking.

Your contrasting it as a bus vs. train thing is inaccurate IMV. The situation and threat-assessment was being developed in real-time, and the guy getting off at the train station just pushed the needle into the red I guess. No matter what he did the chances of getting stopped rose the longer he was being surveiled.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:57 PM on July 28, 2005


Unresponsive bullshit

Since he wasn't sworn in, objection overruled.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:02 PM on July 28, 2005


C'mon--he got on a bus. He rode a bus. No one stopped him, even tho supposedly they thought he was potentially a suicide bomber.

Fixed that for you, too. These things are all balancing probabilities yet you guys are just blazing away with the black & white gun. The coat would be, allegedly, perhaps, apparently, a red flag to the covert team. Why was he wearing a coat? Were others wearing a coat that morning? How well could the coat conceal his torso area?

There were tradeoffs involved with every step the guy took. The guy didn't have a bomb or rucksack so it would have been hard, perhaps, for him to do anything to prompt them to think he was indeed a bomber -- until he ran from the police and allegedly jumped the turnstile. Once that happened the police response, though extremely prejudiced, was understandable.

Man, just think if the guy had his eletrician's kit with him and had started working on that broken alarm set (that he was called to work on) on the bus. Holy shit.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:04 PM on July 28, 2005


He got on the bus--he obviously had a pass or paid his fare--why does anyone believe the jumping the turnstile at the subway story? Can't you think? This is more stupid than the bullshit about Deep Throat being a traitor. I'm sure there are brains in there somewhere.

It's possible he didn't pay to get on the bus - the recently introduced "bendy buses" have two doors in the middle and the rear where you can get on without paying. Or, he may have paid for the bus with one of the cheap bus-only tickets you can get in pretty much every newsagent, but needed to buy a Tube ticket at the station. Or, he may have had a paper travelcard, which would have taken him too long to get through the turnstile if (for whatever understandable reasons) he was desperate to get away from the men with guns. Or, he may have a had an Oystercard (the swipeable transport pass), but it may have been in an inside pocket and hard to get at quickly. Or he may just have panicked.

It's a bit of a stretch to say that, because he'd previously got on a bus, to think it possible that he may have later jumped the barriers renders you a braindead cretin.

C'mon--he got on a bus. He rode a bus. No one stopped him, even tho supposedly they thought he was a suicide bomber. And they followed him on that public bus and rode along with him and didn't stop him at any point. Think about that.

Every aspect of the operation (if following procedure) would have been controlled by a senior officer via radio. We just don't know at what point the decision was taken to change it from a surveillance operation to a apprehend/arrest operation, and when or even if authorisation to shoot if necessary was given. It's entirely possible that the officers trailing him onto the bus were absolutely shitting themselves, and had been desperately asking for authorisation to stop him before he boarded. Or, they may not have. We don't know. We also don't know if the officers who eventually shot him were trailing him at that point, or if they intercepted him at Stockwell working off (faulty) information from their colleagues. We don't know what efforts were made to determine the identities of all the residents of the building he lived in (which you'd think would be in Surveillance 101, but maybe it isn't, or maybe it was one of their biggest fuckups). We don't know how many of the surveillance team followed him from the house. We don't know how effectively, if at all, the police identified themselves when trying to arrest him.

We don't even know (unless I've missed an explanation somewhere in the myriad articles about it) why he went to Stockwell station, when Brixton (Victoria Line) and Clapham North (Northern Line) are both much closer to his home.

To sum up: we don't know. We don't know. We don't know.
posted by flashboy at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2005


I could have saved a lot of time and effort just letting flashboy answer.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:10 PM on July 29, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: Thank you for being the voice of reason in this thread.
posted by event at 2:21 PM on July 29, 2005


We don't know. We don't know.

What we don't know is all the precise details and decision process that led to the outcome of killing an innocent man.

What we do know is not only that the outcome was killing an innocent man, but that the decision to follow this person in the first place, to consider him a suspect at all, a person worth following with a whole team of armed special agents, was a decision based firstly on him leaving a building in which another flat had been put under surveillance. This says the intelligence was not correct and accurate enough. That is obvious. You can't put it any other way.

We also know the police considered the clothing and physical appearance the other contributing factors to suspicion. They said so themselves. We also know for a fact the police were armed yet in plain clothes. We don't know how exactly the police identified themselves, if at all, yet, many people are taking it for granted they did in very clear terms and therefore in their view it's the victim's behaviour that contributed to him getting shot. We don't know if the victim jumped the turnstile, yet, many people have been taking for granted that's a certain fact, and not only that, but using it to prove that the victim's behaviour is what put him at risk of being shot, therefore, even if they got the wrong guy, the shooting is justified because after all, "what if he'd been...".

So you know very well that all the people who are completely, uncritically accepting of the police actions - and not just in previous discussions on this site, but in the public at large - are not just saying "we don't know, we'll reserve judgement". They're selectively choosing to assume as certain things about the victim behaviour, that, even if true, are not themselves a justification for him being shot, or even being followed in the first place, for that matter, but fail to consider those established facts about the police behaviour that are already a matter of serious concern and already up for criticism, even without knowing all the background, that the investigation will hopefully disclose, about how exactly the decision to go from following to shooting unfolded.

We still know it was the wrong decision based on wrong assumptions and resulting in a terribly wrong outcome.

In any other area, this is grounds enough for serious criticism. Like the Times editorial wrote, if it had been a surgeon who operated on the wrong guy and removed the wrong organ and then also killed him in the process, "we don't know why exactly he took that decision, he's still going to have to explain the exact process in detail" would not be a sufficient response. Sure, that doctor's mistake could all end up being explained in terms of a lot of contributing factors - wrong documents, administrative mistakes, rushed decisions, etc. - that would somehow mitigate his responsibility or make it shared with other parties.

Just like the police mistakes could in the end all be explained in terms of a series of rushed decisions and unfortunate circumstances and definitely it wasn't just the guys who pulled the trigger who had the sole responsibility. And we all know the general circumstances of risk of terror attacks.

Yet the standard for police actions is supposed to be far higher than those for any other professional, included private security, precisely because of the public responsibility of their job. The higher the risk, the higher the responsibility; the higher the responsibility, the higher the accountability.

Obviously one tragic mistake does not mean the police always get it wrong or can never be trusted or anything dramatically hyperbolic like that. But we cannot simply accept that because we know the police had good intentions - protecting citizens from another attack - this is like a natural disaster that is inevitable. That, sadly, has been precisely the argument a lot of people - again, general public - have been making. It is very, very different from "we just don't know so we'll abstain from all and any opinion". It wasn't a reaction of zen detachment. It's more like "we know terrorists are running around so better err on the side of excessive suspicion and use of force, at the risk of killing innocents, than none". This is what the "it will happen again" statements implied, too, in not so veiled terms. That it not suspension of judgement, it is a rush to accept killing of innocents as inevitable and abstain from applying the highest standards to the highest public responsibilities and brush away all criticism. If that's not a cause for concern, then, really there is nothing else to be said.
posted by funambulist at 10:15 AM on July 30, 2005


funambulist - incredibly well said!
posted by ericb at 10:23 AM on July 30, 2005


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