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"initial claims have all turned out to be false"
August 14, 2005 2:42 AM   Subscribe

Update on the killing of the innocent Brazilian man by London police at Stockwell station. A special report by the Observer reveals some of the key elements emerging from the ongoing investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Jean Charles de Menezes "wasn't wearing a heavy jacket. He used his card to get into the station. He didn't vault the barrier. And now police say there are no CCTV pictures to reveal the truth." So now the inquiry will have to rely exclusively on eyewitnesses accounts. It appears the man they saw vaulting the barrier was one of the armed officers in plain clothes, while de Menezes "simply walked towards the platform unchallenged". The plainclothes armed unit that shot de Menezes was not the same team that had been following him from his London flat: "there was a delay in calling an armed team to arrest de Menezes, which meant he had already entered the station by the time the officers arrived". Also, it appears that once inside the station, the armed officers had no radio contact with police on the outside. As new details emerge, more questions remain unanswered.
(As previously discussed here and here.)
posted by funambulist (87 comments total)

 
As I said when the news broke, cctv was the only chance of finding anything close to the truth, and it is an outrage that that evidence is being withheld. Britain is already a surveillance obsessed place to an almost Orwellian degree compared to the US or other countries. Where does the claim that 'if it saves one life it is all worth it' stand when the police use it whenever it suits them? The whole thing makes me more and more concerned about the state of our country. Why can the police still arrest anyone without charge under the terrorism act? I even heard from someone it would be extended to six months without charge, though I hope the MPs wouldn't be stupid enough to let that through.

Mistakes CAN and DO happen, and the shoot to kill policy proved that. I don't know if everyone they detained or the people in Guantanamo are all guilty, but I wish they'd make it clearer if they are. What happened to evidence?
posted by Acey at 3:03 AM on August 14, 2005


What I mean is, security is important, but justice is being sacrificed.
posted by Acey at 3:04 AM on August 14, 2005


When this first broke as i watched News 24, I thought 'well if you run from armed police, you gotta be a bit stupid - he wasn't guilty, but... you know... don't run from the armed police....'

But as we go on it all seems to be an almighty cock up and one that they better never let happen again. It kinda seems a bit stupid to shoot an unarmed man, who is on the floor, surrounded by plain clothes police, in the middle of a crowded train...

They have taken responsibility for his death, but how many times could this happen? If they accidentally kill an unarmed man again, will they just say 'sorry' again...
posted by Meccabilly at 3:25 AM on August 14, 2005


.
posted by asok at 3:32 AM on August 14, 2005


Apparently I need to retract my assertion that De Menezes was not entirely "innocent":

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.

This is now apparently indeed something to be outraged about
and the alleged lack of CCTV footage is somewhat troubling.

All my opinionating on those threads was predicated on the material facts (the bulky jacket & De Menezes jumping the wicket upon being stopped) being, uh, factual. Without that, the London police will definitely need to revisit their procedures IMHO. If the previous story doesn't pan out, then the Brits owe the De Menezes family a lot, not that monetary compensation will replace the void.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:35 AM on August 14, 2005


This makes me really bloody angry.

I've never been in favour of armed police but when the initial reports of this man's shooting came out it was easy to understand why they had done what they did in a stressful situation. This report now makes their actions appear completely inexplicable.

The issue with the video cameras is also very worrying. While it's possible that incompetence led to the lack of surveilence footage it really stretches credibility to breaking point - I don't believe it and I don't think anyone else will either. This will lead everyone to think the police are behaving in a typical manner - closing ranks in time of trouble and covering up their tracks - and this will lead to even greater distrust by the public at a time when we need more trust.

If the police force have any sense they'll be completely open about their mistakes in this case and assure us they'll be much more careful in future. Simply saying that extreme times require extreme measures and collateral damage is inevitable just isn't going to cut it.
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:41 AM on August 14, 2005


What probably annoys me most is how they'll brush over this like it never happened. There'll be an investigation of sorts, probably compensation will be given if it hasn't already, but no real punishment for those ultimately responsible. To paraphrase Bill Hicks: Go back to sleep Britain. Your Government has the situation under control. Go back to watching Big Brother*.

*while big brother in fact watches you.
posted by Acey at 4:36 AM on August 14, 2005


.

This is just incredible. I have no words left but second what everyone else has said.
posted by keijo at 5:46 AM on August 14, 2005


This is tragic. The thought of an innocent man, not to mention one who didn't jump the turnstile, wear a heavy coat, run to the train etc. getting murdered in cold-blood by a group of armed men just saddens me beyond belief.

I also can't help but shake my head at all those who shot down those who questioned the motives and procedures of the police in the initial thread.
posted by melt away at 5:50 AM on August 14, 2005


And now police say there are no CCTV pictures to reveal the truth

...anymore.

Fucking outrageous.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:04 AM on August 14, 2005


As an aside, I think we need to tip a hat to Haywood for his retraction. That was an honest, stand-up thing to do. Something that is a rarity these days.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:23 AM on August 14, 2005


it's as i said ... people need to lose their jobs over this ... and now i say there should be a criminal investigation

no cctv tape ... how convenient
posted by pyramid termite at 6:37 AM on August 14, 2005


I think we need to tip a hat to Haywood for his retraction. That was an honest, stand-up thing to do.

And something all too rarely seen around here. Heartily seconded.

And thanks for the post; this is about as necessary an update as I can remember seeing.
posted by languagehat at 6:43 AM on August 14, 2005


This isn't a police mistake. This is a murder, and quite possible a conspiracy to pervert Justice.

Note that the UK hasn't had a history of making evidence disappear to "fight terrorism" before.

But the officers who pulled that trigger deserve to be in the dock, answering for thier crimes.

As to the UK "fetish" with CCTV. Don't think they're alone. The difference between the US and the UK with regards to CCTV is this, and this alone: The UK has to post signs saying they're using CCTV. The US doesn't. Learn to spot them, and you'll realize that most US cities are just as lousy as the UK.

Heck, in many US cities, they aren't even trying to hide them anymore.
posted by eriko at 6:46 AM on August 14, 2005


Wow, it sounds like the cops are covering it up. Pretty scary...
posted by parallax7d at 6:53 AM on August 14, 2005


.
posted by Edible Energy at 6:59 AM on August 14, 2005


I think we need to tip a hat to Haywood for his retraction

Actually, I didn't retract much, really. Last month I was just arguing the "facts" as had been reported. When the facts apparently change so radically like this, opinions generally have to change too.

Even last month, the more we learned about the surveillance, like how the observation team called in the hit team, the more it became clear that coordination on this was suspect. I can't find the post, but there was one guy willing to bet his house that De Menezes jumped the turnstile, and I said we didn't know that "for certain" at all.

It's important not to get ahead of the facts, and in this case I've learned it's also important not to take initial reports so definitively.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:05 AM on August 14, 2005


...Evidence of this hold-up should have been provided by CCTV footage from dozens of cameras covering the Stockwell ticket hall, escalators, platforms and train carriages.

However, police now say most of the cameras were not working. Yet pictures are available of a bombing suspect leaving another station nearby, and after the 7 July attacks tube boses could have been expected to make extra efforts to see that all their cameras were in action. ..


This is a crock. They're suppressing the images. Is it because of the special forces team?
posted by amberglow at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2005


the missing cctv images is really bloody worrying.
posted by dabitch at 7:30 AM on August 14, 2005


*while big brother in fact watches you.

Yet, somehow, BB can't seem to find cctv pictures when desperately needed. Funny. No, not funny- sad and stupid.

.
posted by wallaby at 7:35 AM on August 14, 2005


My vociferous defense of the police actions is looking somewhat foolish now. Something about this whole mess is not really making sense. I could have accepted the police actions if the guy was acting suspiciously and had a bomb vest (or something that looked suspiciously close), I would have understood (but couldn't really condone) if the guy was running and wore some kind of concealing clothes. I can't understand why police would shoot some random guy ... that makes no sense. Things are really not adding up.
I don't think there's a cover up, it wouldn't make any sense. The British government owned up pretty quickly that they made a mistake. So that action in and of itself is not consistent with a cover up. Besides, you know there's going to be all kinds of attention on this. Either this was a cluster of bad mistakes, or there's still more to this.
Regardless, a full inquiry is needed (which is true even if the guy did have a bomb vest on). It's just at this point, the police actions do not look justifiable.
posted by forforf at 7:49 AM on August 14, 2005


My theory: the Brits have deployed high tech X-ray machines in or around tube stations. They find a swarthy guy with wires, meters, batteries and electronics stuff in his backpack, and go over the tipping point.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2005


WGP, according to the article, Menzes was not wearing his electrician's belt.
posted by picaro at 9:03 AM on August 14, 2005


This surely is also a cautionary tale on the (un)reliability of eye witness testimony.
posted by Rumple at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2005


the missing cctv images is really bloody worrying.

Yes, especially as it seems that the IPPC had already seen CCTV footage to be able to establish that de Menezes was wearing a denim jacket and did not jump the barrier but used a valid ticket - see for instance this from a July 31 article on the Times: "The Independent Police Complaints Commission is studying CCTV footage that caught de Menezes’s last moments. What is already clear is that the initial accounts of his death on July 22 were wrong."

Now I'm a bit confused about this - either the implication now is that those earlier reports that the IPPC was viewing CCTV footage were wrong, and there's no footage at all, or the police are now saying that what seems to be missing is only CCTV footage of the actual assault and shooting?
posted by funambulist at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2005


He had received a phone call earlier asking him to fix a fire alarm at a property in Kilburn, north London.
He may not have travelled with his electrician's belt, but he likely had repair equipment in his backpack. I think they must have detected this somehow.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2005


Rumple: true, but it would seem the unreliability of some of the initial eyewitness reports was also due to the confusion in which it all happened and most of all the fact the police were in plain clothes, so for instance those (one or more?) who said the man had jumped over the barrier had actually seen a plainclothes officer jumping over the barrier, and in the confusion assumed it was the man who got shot.
posted by funambulist at 9:20 AM on August 14, 2005


Having re-read now, I has occured to me that a number of mistakes led up to his death. He was under surveillance as he lived in the same house as one of the criminals. However (if I interpreted this correctly) a delay in following him or something meant that he entered a tube station. The late arriving police may well have panicked and that explains their actions.

To those who say the police officers should pay for it, that wasn't what I meant. I think those who are building a climate of fear, panic and hatred should be held responsible, i.e., both our governments and the terrorists. The terrorists for obvious reasons, but also the government, for simply handling the situation extremely badly (going back a number of years but really going nuts after sept 11th). Speaking from a British perspective, did the police act this way during the Irish troubles? I'm honestly asking - I'm only old enough to remember recent years' developments.

On the day the attacks happened originally, the people acted well as far as I know (then again, could just be government/police rhetoric to calm people, however I suspect Londoners were only slightly ruffled). We have to ask ourselves who is causing this climate of fear - and here's a clue: It's not just the terrorists.
posted by Acey at 9:21 AM on August 14, 2005


weapons-grade pandemonium: er, except there was never any mention of a backpack...
posted by funambulist at 9:23 AM on August 14, 2005


it was already said that he wasn't carrying his tools, and had left them at the job or something.
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2005


as he lived in the same house as one of the criminals

Actually in the same apartment block -- with a number of apartments that shared a common entryway.
posted by ericb at 9:35 AM on August 14, 2005


ericb: Sorry, yes, you are right, but that is why he was being watched I think. They hadn't entered the building at this time had they? The details are so sketchy.
posted by Acey at 9:38 AM on August 14, 2005


Here's a reconstruction of his journey from his apartment building to the tube station: Innocent man's 26-minute journey to a violent death
"Police were staking out the red-brick block of flats in Scotia Road, London, after the address had been found in documents left in one of the rucksacks abandoned after the failure of last Thursday's attacks.

There was also evidence that the crop-haired bomber in the sweatshirt with a New York logo on the front, seen in CCTV pictures fleeing Oval station, had recently stayed at the address.

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....The decision was taken to let him go, in the hope he might lead his shadows to the bombers....When it was obvious he was getting off at Stockwell Tube station, the team on the bus alerted a three-man team of marksmen to move in. "
posted by ericb at 9:59 AM on August 14, 2005


Also ...
"The bus journey was slow, as on any other Friday morning, but Mr Menezes seemed to be in no hurry. He was heading to Willesden Green to fix an alarm system."
And, from the same Times Online UK article :
"As the three plain-clothes officers closed in on Mr Menezes, they say that they screamed their first warning that they were armed police. Their version is that he turned, ran into the station concourse, vaulted the ticket barriers and reached a waiting train before they could catch him. They shot him five times in the head when they believed that he was trying to trigger a bomb."
Obviously, the investigation is turning up contrary evidence.
posted by ericb at 10:05 AM on August 14, 2005


"Menezes was also not carrying a tool bag, since he had left it with his work colleague the previous evening."
posted by ericb at 10:16 AM on August 14, 2005


What I want to know now - and, of course, this will probably never be answered - is why DID they kill him?

This sounds more and more premeditated and intentional. The police followed him into the station with the intention of killing him. I don't see how one could draw any other conclusion at this point.

WHY?
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:55 AM on August 14, 2005


All my opinionating on those threads was predicated on the material facts (the bulky jacket & De Menezes jumping the wicket upon being stopped) being, uh, factual.

Bravo and all, but there were no material "facts" at the time, Heywood (which your later use of scare quotes now acknowledges). There were only initial reports, which I'm happy to see you'll be taking with proper skepticism in the future. What a mess of bloviation those threads look like now, eh?

There's a lesson here for everyone about jumping to conclusions about breaking news stories, but I seriously doubt it'll have an impact on the degree of outraged certainty we see in future threads. Oh, and: told you so.
posted by mediareport at 10:57 AM on August 14, 2005


I've said this before. The initial official story is almost always a lie. It is often enough a lie on so many fundamentals that you can win bets with your conservative friends who accept these sort of stories as a means to justify their world views.

The reality of why it happened is somewhat akin as to why "friendly fire" incidents happen. Very bad communication, overly tense enforcers, and at least one and probably several individuals breaking protocol.

That doesn't explain why the lies proliferated afterwards. Everyone who lied in their reports should be convicted along with those directly responsible for what is likely a negligent homicide (although prejudice probably played a role).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:14 AM on August 14, 2005


WHY?

Policemen aren't cool, steely-eyed operatives as commonly depicted in films and TV. Regardless of any training they may have received, they're just ordinary schmoes trying to do their jobs. And in stressful situations, they, like most of us, make poor decisions.

In this case, the police clearly assumed that De Menezes was one of them. He was already defined as a terrorist in their eyes, and his every action was interpreted through that lens. And, very likely, the officials looking at this case still consider the victim to be a "virtual" terrorist, if for no other reason because he's an embarassment to them.
posted by SPrintF at 11:17 AM on August 14, 2005


mediareport: I see your point, but it is entirely natural that people react to news as news come out, especially when it's something so unusual and upsetting. It just happens, whatever its effects, whether you like it or not, you can't really expect people not to react immediately one way or the other to something so dramatic and in such a dramatic context.

What is sad, even if predictable, is that the police did exploit that first reactions effect to try to and make it look like there were more apparent justifications to their actions than it later turned out (at least for those willing to accept the official statements at face value, which in a context of terror attacks and alerts, was inevitably going to be the main reaction).
They must have obviously known from the very moment of the shooting that the Brazilian man was wearing only a denim jacket and had not jumped the barrier. But they didn't clarify any of that straight away, they allowed reports to the contrary to stick, and waited for those details to come out much later when the attention and impact of the news was going to be relatively lower and it's no longer on the front pages. But in the long run, I'm not sure it's been wise for them even from a cynical point of view of PR alone.
posted by funambulist at 11:45 AM on August 14, 2005


Policemen aren't cool, steely-eyed operatives as commonly depicted in films and TV.

More like half-drunk childish fuck-ups if this case is any clue. I'll bet they felt real manly once they emptied their clips into the unarmed De Menezes head.

Visit London again? I think not, old chap.
posted by telstar at 11:47 AM on August 14, 2005


This isn't a police mistake. This is a murder, and quite possible a conspiracy to pervert Justice.

Why did he run?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:01 PM on August 14, 2005


Funny how some people seem to be wired to totally accept authoritarian statements, defending their masters to the death like dogs, whether they be right or wrong. Master says they have WMD, they must have them and everyone who disagrees is wrong. Master says the police acted properly, all the dissenters must again be wrong.

Well, a London tube station had its floor repainted with an innocent man's brains. Let's see if the dogs can bite the hand that feeds them their lies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:16 PM on August 14, 2005


Why did he run?

because he didn't?


de Menezes "simply walked towards the platform unchallenged"
posted by edgeways at 1:27 PM on August 14, 2005


Why did he run?

Maybe to catch the train? Not at all unusual in a tube-station you know.

(besides, was he even running? I have no idea what went on now.)
posted by dabitch at 1:28 PM on August 14, 2005


"Mr de Menzes did not jump over a ticket barrier but used a travel card.

He was not wearing a bulky winter coat, nor did he sprint down escalators to escape the police.

It is now believed that he walked to the platform. It is also now thought that officers did not properly identify themselves before opening fire." [Sunday Mail | August 14, 1005]
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2005


I simply do not believe that there is no footage whatsoever of the chase tailing of Jean. I still hope that the IPCC find out the truth.

Clearly, there are serious lessons to be learnt here. Communication equipment needs to be upgraded, so that the police can radio from deep Tube stations.

Perhaps - if the fact is that the 'suspect' was not challenged because there were no trained, armed officers nearby - the [counterintuitive] message is: arm more officers.

The extremists are not going away any time soon, and - unlike the IRA - they are not a single political group with whom we can negotiate [and anyway, their demands, such as we can understand them, seem to amount to the surrender of all & any liberty brits have].

I mourn Jean Charles de Menezes. Only by realising the need of us all for justice, by prosecuting the officers who commanded and carried out this failed operation, can we get any satisfaction from this.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2005


Clearly, there are serious lessons to be learnt here. Communication equipment needs to be upgraded, so that the police can radio from deep Tube stations.

Yes, many lessons for security forces worldwide. For example, authorities here in Boston are concerned about the lack of a coordinated communications system for the country's oldest subway system
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on August 14, 2005


Why did he run?

Does *anyone* read links before posting?
posted by mediareport at 4:40 PM on August 14, 2005


eriko says: "Note that the UK hasn't had a history of making evidence disappear to "fight terrorism" before."

Tell that to the Guilford Four, amongst others.

The first time the Prevention of Terrorism Act was used was after another pub bombing in the English town of Guilford. Four people were arrested, held incommunicado in prison for a week, and coerced into false confessions by administration of drugs and by threats against their families. While the "Guilford Four" were being held, the police used the time to fabricate evidence against them. Although members of the Irish Republican Army already in prison confessed to the Guilford bombings, the Guilford Four were tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.

[reference]
posted by noizyboy at 4:52 PM on August 14, 2005


Hush citizen. Go on about your business. Nothing to see here.
posted by nightchrome at 5:14 PM on August 14, 2005


I was going to make a snark regarding Mr. de Menzes' skin color, but really, this is becoming such a fucking cock-up that I can't really bring myself to it. Let's hope Brasília roasts Downing Street over this one.

Oh, and big Fuck You to Sir Ian Blair (Metropolitan Police Commissioner):
"He insists the shoot-to-kill policy is the 'least worst' way of tackling suicide bombers and refuses to rule out other innocent people being shot in similar circumstances. 'I am not certain the tactic we have is the right tactic, but it is the best we have found so far.'"
Here's a hint: How about look around a little harder for a better tactic before your officers redecorate a tube station with another innocent's brains (or shoot dead an "Irishman with a gun"), huh?

Oh, and nice job The Jesse Helms. Trying to live up to your namesake (or just didn't RTFA)?
posted by MikeKD at 5:18 PM on August 14, 2005


>Why did he run?

Does *anyone* read links before posting?

mediareport



>Why did he run?

because he didn't?

de Menezes "simply walked towards the platform unchallenged"

edgeways



So now the inquiry will have to rely exclusively on eyewitnesses accounts.
funambulist (in the original post)



Another witness, Mark Whitby, told of hearing people shouting, 'Get down, get own,' and then seeing de Menezes run onto the train 'looking like a cornered fox'.
The Observer (from the linked article)



Mediareport, edgeways – see that word after "Menezes" and before "onto"?

It's a bit like what Civil_Disobedient wrote in his post...

Funny how some people seem to be wired to totally accept authoritarian statements, defending their masters to the death like dogs, whether they be right or wrong.

...but in reverse. Some people are wired to totally accept any statement that sheds negative light on the War on Turr, whether they be right or wrong.


Other than that, it seems like a big ol' mess, doesn't it? Imagine the cameras not working! Imagine the cameras not being checked during the post bombing security beef-up!!!

Fucking lying cops.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:49 PM on August 14, 2005


uncanny: that's two separate bits of the action...

- the part where he was running from the outside or entrance of the station and jumping over a barrier, which was insisted upon as a motive for the police to shoot (the idea being that the police decided to shoot because they saw him running), now that's been established as false, as it seems he just went in normally with his ticket and walked to the platform, without running, because at the time he got in the station, the armed officers hadn't even arrived yet;

- what that particular witness, Mark Whitby, was saying from the start is that that he saw this man run into the train from the platform, with plainclothes officers pursuing with weapons in sight, ie. the idea being he was running because there were men with weapons inside the station going after him. It seems to have all happened very quickly, and that witness said he saw the very last minute part of the action:
Stunned commuter Mark Whitby was reading a paper on the Victoria line northbound train when it pulled in to Stockwell.

When the doors opened he saw Mr Menezes burst in with cops behind.

"He kind of tripped and fell and three plain-clothed policemen fell on top of him," said Mr Whitby, a 47-year-old surveyor from Brixton.

"Two of them pushed him to the ground then they unloaded about five shots from close range."
So, if as it now seems the armed officers had not challenged him before he got on the platform and only went after him once inside the station and the decision to shoot had already been taken, then it's a whole other story and if there was running onto the train it was not a cause of the police actions, but a last minute reaction itself, obviously.

There were so many different bits and bobs from initial reports, however if you piece them together according to these latest reports, that's how it seems to have happened.
posted by funambulist at 1:25 AM on August 15, 2005



Seeing people running in my direction wearing street clothes and holding guns would make me somewhat nervous and likely to bolt to a safe location, too. Just sayin'.
posted by Nomen Nescio at 1:38 AM on August 15, 2005


funambulist

Thanks for that. I was just being an argumentative prick more than anything. Two people said he didn't run when he did, in fact, run. One of them was even snarky about their superior link-reading abilities.

And speaking of argumentative, the eyewitness you quoted also said this:

"He [the suspect] had a baseball cap on and quite a sort of thickish coat - it was a coat you'd wear in winter, sort of like a padded jacket.

"He might have had something concealed under there, I don't know. But it looked sort of out of place with the sort of weather we've been having, the sort of hot humid weather.


But he wasn't wearing a big jacket according to the first post. And yet the inquiry will have to rely "exclusively on eyewitnesses accounts." But not like the eyewitness you quoted, obviously?

I've even read eyewitness accounts that say he appeared to be wearing a "bomb belt with wires coming out." So go figure.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:37 AM on August 15, 2005


I don't know, uncanny, there were many contradictory reports at the start, some of which, like the jumping barrier bit, deliberately circulated and/or reinforced by police (that stuff was actually quoted as "police say that...", it wasn't something a named witness came out with). It's true that guy spoke of a padded jacket, but he was very shocked and in the confusion he described, clothing is probably the first thing to get fuzzy impressions of. As to the other guy who said the guy 'seemed to' have a bomb belt with wires, well, he either had a very wide definition of 'seemed to', because not even police said that, or he was seeing the jackets and maybe radios of the officers. Who knows. We know for sure the victim didn't have any bomb belts or wires, so...

But, see, if the investigators have now established amongs other things that the clothing was only a denim jacket, then I guess they must have something more than just a few contrasting initial accounts from people who spoke to the media. In fact, like I said, earlier articles mentioned the commission had seen CCTV images of de Menezes entering with his ticket rather than jumping, so, perhaps they do have that much, but strangely enough, not images of what followed (which after all is technically possible, as it'd be different cameras anyway).

I guess there may be some more clarification on those details once the commission does officially reveal their conclusions.

Many of the things that were clear from the start, though, are only becoming more so...
posted by funambulist at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2005


Based on what we thought we knew then, I made a statement in support of the police last month. I now know that what we thought we knew was clearly wrong, and I, for one, will make an unqualified retraction of my earlier statement. This is really, really bad.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2005


As to the UK "fetish" with CCTV. Don't think they're alone. The difference between the US and the UK with regards to CCTV is this, and this alone: The UK has to post signs saying they're using CCTV. The US doesn't. Learn to spot them, and you'll realize that most US cities are just as lousy as the UK.

From the WSJ:
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. . .In all, there are at least 500,000 cameras in the city, and one study showed that in a single day a person could expect to be filmed 300 times.
(Which is, of course, not to say that the US is not absolutely crammed full of surveillance cameras as well...)
posted by Vidiot at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2005


Also, this makes the US Capitol Police policy of "shoot to kill" (as recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police) look like a really stupid one.
posted by Vidiot at 2:22 PM on August 15, 2005


NYCLU Surveillance Camera Project.
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on August 15, 2005


I could forgive incompetance or poor work, even racism (this is not to say I condone or wouldn't be in full favor of jail time and serious ass kickings for the higher ups including loss of jobs, etc) - but covering it up is inexcusable.
It is exactly the opposite of what the police are supposed to be.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:29 PM on August 15, 2005


According to the article, Menzes had been attacked by a gang a couple of weeks before the shooting. Stands to reason that if he saw a bunch of guys running after him, he'd run.
This guy had no way of knowing he was suspected of being a terrorist. He was going about his business, the same way all of us do every day.
posted by black8 at 4:10 PM on August 15, 2005


It is exactly the opposite of what the police are supposed to be.
And sadly, folks in London are learning what we in NY (and LA, etc) have known about police and minorities for ages. There was a reason many of us immediately cried foul--we've seen it before.
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on August 15, 2005


I could forgive incompetance or poor work, even racism (this is not to say I condone or wouldn't be in full favor of jail time and serious ass kickings for the higher ups including loss of jobs, etc) - but covering it up is inexcusable.

The "cameras weren't working" excuse really sticks in my craw. What an absolute steaming pile of you-know-what.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:36 PM on August 15, 2005


I was just being an argumentative prick more than anything.

Well, that's nice. The whole *point* of the article is that most witness statements - bulky jacket, wires, jumping - have proven unreliable or are contradictory:

One witness, Chris Wells, 28, a company manager, said he saw about 20 police officers, some armed, rushing into the station before a man jumped over the barriers with police giving chase. In fact, by the time the armed officers arrived de Menezes was already heading down towards the train. It now seems certain that the man seen vaulting the barrier was one of the armed officers in hot pursuit.

And the article couldn't be more clear that Menezes was *not* running as he entered the station, and did *not* vault over the barrier at the entrance:

By the time the armed officers arrived, De Menezes was already inside, using his Oyster card to enter the station and casually walking down the escalator towards the platform.

You call it being snarky and superior; I call it reading.
posted by mediareport at 8:50 PM on August 15, 2005


I can't believe you are arguing about this.

The question was "why did he run?"

The question was not "why did he run as he entered the station?"

You call that "reading," do you?


Well, that's nice. The whole *point* of the article is that most witness statements - bulky jacket, wires, jumping - have proven unreliable or are contradictory:

Well that's nice, because the whole freakin' enquiry is going to have to rely on eyewitness statements. Which was entirely my point about highlighting how contradictory they are.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:34 PM on August 15, 2005


Actually, the (well, one) point of the article is also that the *police* account of the chase in the station turned out to be unreliable, or rather, just plain false. They, the police, had always insisted the victim did not stop when challenged and jumped over the barrier.
That, as it turns out, those civilian witnesses who did see a man jumping the barrier assumed it was the guy who was shot only goes to show how the officers were not identifiable, as they were wearing plain clothes, and no one reported hearing 'police' or anything in terms of identification... from the article ericb linked above:
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.
Another main point of the article is to reveal a key element of the investigation will be scrutiny of a delay in calling an armed team to arrest de Menezes, which meant he had already entered the station by the time the officers arrived. This is a matter of internal procedure.


So, yes it is obviously bad that the enquiry will have to rely more on witnesses rather than CCTV footage (even if, if I'm getting this right, they do have images of the entrance into the station to establish how that went), and yes, it sounds very convenient for that footage of the actual assault and shooting to be unavailable, but the problem is not about all those details on the appearance and behaviour of the victim in entering the station, that were previously insisted upon as somehow 'cause' for the police to react like they did -- those have now been cleared.
What the inquiry will have to focus on are the procedures of the police, the decision-making, who gave the orders, why the delay, why there was no radio contact, etc. - the questions summed up at the end of the article.

(If I understand correctly, that is - I'm only summing up what I gathered from recent articles...).


Interestingly enough, the Observer article mentions Another witness interviewed by the inquiry puts officers on the train before the shooting, glancing around the carriage and apparently searching for their suspect.

Also I can't find articles on this, but there are also reports that two officers, not one, fired into de Menezes after they had him pinned down. (saw this on the BBC press review yesterday morning)
posted by funambulist at 1:30 AM on August 16, 2005


I can't believe you are arguing about this.

Ok, ok, I'm sorry. I like being an argumentative prick sometimes, too, and let it get loose. I'll stop now.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on August 16, 2005


iTV News received some leaked documents (and photographs apparently) you can read the original iTV story or the one from The Times. Both contain some information not in the other. Both have a photo of the then dead De Menezes.

The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed.

He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.

He started running when we saw a tube at the platform. Police had agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran.


Both stories are very interesting reads with some new eyewitness testimony I hadn't read before. Personally, I think this whole mess is ... to put it as mildly as I can ... I total f*ck-up by the police, and they are going to do anything they can at this point to cover their own mistakes. Sorry, but I refuse to believe that all the CCTV cameras inside the station (and don't they have them in the tube cars as well) weren't working.

Guy was just going about his life, runs to catch a train, sits down, and then is shot eight times all because of incompetence on the part of the police who didn't realize the person they were trailing was not one of the men they were looking for ... even though he didn't look like any of them. I hope this tragedy keeps other police mistakes like it from happening anywhere else.
posted by Orb at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2005


It seems more likely that it will set the precedent that police can shoot anyone in the head and be assured that as long as "terror" is invoked, they won't be prosecuted.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:07 PM on August 16, 2005


Orb, thank you for those links, hadn't heard of those new stories yet. Bloody hell. I can barely believe this. It just gets more and more shocking.

"Photographs showed how Senhor de Menezes was shot at virtually point blank range as he was still in his seat."

And again they do mention the commission has acquired CCTV footage. So what's the official story about that now?
posted by funambulist at 2:19 PM on August 16, 2005


I ran across them a little bit ago, and when I opened the story in my browser was shocked to see an actual photograph of the scene, seeing as the latest stories say they are going to have to go on eyewitness testimony because there weren't any photographs. Apparently there are more than just the one that has now been shown.

That was the interesting point ... where did those photographs they mention (and show) come from? If not from CCTV cameras ... did they have a cop just standing around taking pics during the event like it was some sort of photo shoot? All the other stories on this still maintain that there is no CCTV footage.

I'm with you funambulist. I can barely believe this. It seems so unreal that so many mistakes could be made at the same time. If the cops didn't know, or weren't sure what happened immediately following the shooting, they shouldn't have said anything. Instead, it seems they flat out lied on just about every detail they provided ... the heavy coat, his acting suspicious, running from the cops, jumping the barrier. The only truth in the initial reports was that he happened to be unfortunate enough to live in the same apartment block the cops were watching that day.

Every day as more and more comes out, it just makes me more and more ill.
posted by Orb at 2:48 PM on August 16, 2005


Ok, ok, I'm sorry. I like being an argumentative prick sometimes...

Touche.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:02 PM on August 16, 2005


The thing is, the story is not dominating the news anymore. Not as much as it did when it first happened. Any good P.R. guru will tell you that the initial story will stick in the mind of most people, if it's the dominant story. So, any "facts" that were first released will probably still remain as "facts" for a lot of folks who don't/can't keep track of all the new developments.

By the way, the Police in Britain have done this before: lying openly right after a catastrophic incident. Memory and ignorance is fine but hopefully, for a lot of people, it will not be the same in the future.
posted by gsb at 12:17 AM on August 17, 2005


Orb: in all today's stories, that police claim that there was no CCTV footage is no longer even brought up. The leaked reports from the IPCC confirm that they definitely have CCTV footage of de Menezes entering the station regularly with a ticket, picking up a free newspaper, then getting on the train, and sitting down. So they didn't establish that only through witnesses.

So perhaps that "oops, no cameras were working" was a last attempt at spin? They weren't counting on the documents being leaked.

What the police didn't have is photographs of him leaving the house, which would have been necessary to get identification that he was one of the terrorist suspects they claim they thought he was. No one took any pictures of him to check with the intelligence. So, it's a mystery how they got that 'positive identification' that led them to decide to go for the shoot-to-kill.


- stories on ITN news, Guardian (also this), Times, BBC, or just check google news and knock yourselves out.

Ah, the inimitable Daily Mail mentions: One of the clinching factors in the mistaken identification appears to have been the fact that some of the officers agreed Mr de Menezes had the 'same Mongolian eyes' as one of the terror suspects. .... They believed that one of two suspects, including Shepherd's Bush bomber Hussain Osman, was living at the flat. and if you click on the picture in the article you get a popup with side-by-side pictures of the faces of de Menezes and Osman, oh yeah, so similar, except, they're so different, and not really 'Mongolian' (??), but perhaps whoever said that just meant, you know, looks like a bloody foreigner...
posted by funambulist at 12:58 AM on August 17, 2005


gsb: but now with the leaks it is actually the first (or second) news headline on all tv news channels, from BBC to Sky to ITN obviously, and on the front pages of the Daily Mail, the Guardian, and others... It wouldn't have got the same attention if it hadn't been for the leaked documents.
So I guess it'll be difficult for initial lies to stick now.
posted by funambulist at 1:01 AM on August 17, 2005


(sorry, I confused ITV with ITN, ITV were the ones who had the first story on the leaks yesterday)
posted by funambulist at 1:03 AM on August 17, 2005


>So I guess it'll be difficult for initial lies to stick now.

funambulist, that's a good point and I hope this is right, but now the onus is on the police to admit the mistake. Right now they're saying no comment because of an ongoing inquiry. How convenient. That would set the record straight and certainly develop into a news conflagration on a scope and proportion needed to wipe out the confusion. Unfortunately, official lies require official repudiation.
posted by gsb at 1:48 AM on August 17, 2005


You're absolutely right, gsb, I agree with you there. The fact that the initial false statements were allowed to stick for so long is really outrageous, but now there seems to be heavy pressure to account for the fact the leaked reports disprove the police statements, so I somehow doubt it can all just fade away into obscurity. They won't be able to get away with a no comment for long. And hopefully there can also be a full public inquiry as the family asked.
posted by funambulist at 2:41 AM on August 17, 2005


The first thing I thought when I first read that there was no CCTV footage was that it was just an attempt to cover up something. I've seen that in a case here some years ago, and once the footage they said didn't exist was "found", the first "official" accounts of what happened were so ingrained in everyone's mind that most people around here went on believing what they had initially heard, even after there were images that proved completely contrary to the previous story provided.

So I guess it'll be difficult for initial lies to stick now.

For people who try to stay current and are on line a lot, probably not, but I can tell you that many people don't read or see much truly international news (at least around here), and this new information isn't getting a lot of coverage on the US circuit (at least not that I have seen or heard). I actually had to correct my husband's boss tonight on this very subject. He was still under the impression that this guy had "asked for it" by dressing and acting oddly, running from the cops, and jumping a barrier ... and he's someone who thinks he is well-informed (though he only watches Fox News, so that is debatable).

but perhaps whoever said that just meant, you know, looks like a bloody foreigner...

I have to agree with your assessment of the "Mongolian eyes" statement. Even in a drunken stupor, I would be able to see that those two men look nothing alike. I don't even think either of them looks especially "foreign" (and I certainly wouldn't describe either as Mongolian in any way), but I live in an ethnically rich neighborhood where I am the one that looks most different. No one really looks all that foreign to me anymore.
posted by Orb at 3:29 AM on August 17, 2005


By "mongolian eye" they are probably talking about the no-fold eye-lid as sported here by a young Nelson Mandela.
posted by dabitch at 5:49 AM on August 17, 2005


Orb: I don't doubt that if you're in America then I guess the coverage is less intense, but in the UK it is a main headline on all tv news as well, tonight in the evening news there'll probably be more, and then of course the tabloids... when even the Daily Mail has it on the front page I guess it's hard to miss it.

There's a call to suspend the shoot-to-kill policy. So far no official comments from the police or Home office. It wouldn't be a bad thing if some other groups or politicians spoke out on this and demanded a public inquiry, instead of leaving it only to the family and their laywer.

Even in a drunken stupor, I would be able to see that those two men look nothing alike.

Yeah, I think that quote must have been another attempt at somehow 'justify' the police blunder. I don't believe they thought it was Osman. I guess they really only had the coincidence of this guy living in the same block of flats under surveillance, and of course it is absurd that it took so little to consider someone a suspect, but it would be even more ridiculous to think that the police would be so careless about the appearance of suspects they had already identified (Osman) to confuse them with someone else.
posted by funambulist at 6:11 AM on August 17, 2005


The officer should have taken video footage which would have helped identify the suspect to colleagues. But he was relieving himself at the time and could not switch on the camera. - Daily Mail
This is the weakest excuse in a whole steaming pile of weak excuses. The police are losing more respect & trust every time they open their fucking mouths. That, sadly, eats at the basis of modern policing in the UK.

I take it that the fact we've heard no more about the block of flats (not an individual dwelling: this means an apartment block, for the USians) having suspects in there, means that the police wasted plenty of time on a wild goose chase before this tragedy.

Heads will roll for this, I'm sure.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:16 PM on August 17, 2005


This is the weakest excuse in a whole steaming pile of weak excuses.

Do they think we're morons? "Er, the officer was taking a piss, er, and oh yeah, the CCTV cameras weren't working…" Looks like the CCTV excuse has already been shown to be a lie.

Getting back to star witness Mark Whitby. Every major online news service carried his eye witness statements. He seemed like a level headed, articulate, normal person. He saw the whole thing unfold before his eyes:

"He [the suspect] had a baseball cap on and quite a sort of thickish coat - it was a coat you'd wear in winter, sort of like a padded jacket.

"He might have had something concealed under there, I don't know. But it looked sort of out of place with the sort of weather we've been having, the sort of hot humid weather.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4706913.stm

So how does he come out with such a detailed statement – a statement where talks about the padded jacket at some length, where he talks about how unusual it was, how it didn't fit in for that time of year, how it could have concealed something – and it be so completely wrong?

OK, I could have a guess. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable.

But given(?) that Menezes wasn't wearing a padded jacket, and given that eyewitnesses are going to be called, who gets to decide "Mr Whitby, you are clearly full of shit and we won't be calling you as a witness"?

Will his account be used? How can the UK government pick and chose witnesses? This guy was a star media witness for a number of days. I'd be interested to see what happens to him with regards to the official enquiry.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:18 PM on August 17, 2005


I don't doubt that if you're in America then I guess the coverage is less intense

Actually, quite a bit of coverage here in the States ... tonight there was coverage on CNN - Anderson Cooper's 360 ... and now an in-depth report on Paula Zahn NOW. I suspect we'll see more coverage in tomorrow's newspapers, websites and television newscasts.
posted by ericb at 5:59 PM on August 17, 2005


It appears that the discussion is shifting to a new thread.
posted by ericb at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2005


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