No 'Unlawful Killing' allowed.
December 12, 2008 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Further to the cover up and the initial claims the jury has reached a verdict in the De Menezes inquest.

The Coroner ruled out an unlawful killing verdict on the grounds that "All interested persons agree that a verdict of unlawful killing could only be left to (the jury) if (they) could be sure that a specific officer had committed a very serious crime: murder or manslaughter" Further info here

Whitewash or legalease?
posted by fistynuts (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Shameful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:45 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


In a coroner's inquest is it unusual to have the jury's options limited like this? Does this inquest constitute a trial of, for example, officer C12 or can s/he be tried for murder independently? This verdict has been all over the place but I don't understand how a coroner's inquest is supposed to go, or its legal meaning.

Whether it's because of the coroner's instructions, or because the reporting is subtly slanted, though, this looks extremely bad for the UK Government.
posted by jet_silver at 1:00 PM on December 12, 2008


Banned from considering an unlawful killing verdict, jurors returned an open verdict by an eight to two majority on the death of the innocent Brazilian electrician. The panel made clear it did not believe some of the evidence from the police marksmen.

BANNED from considering an unlawful killing verdict. Even though the panel believed the police lied to them, even though they destroyed evidence.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2008


My own 2 cents is that the firearms officers were just doing their jobs/following orders and so could not be guilty of " murder or manslaughter" and perhaps legally this is the reason for the restricted verdict, but the overall process seems to have been crimally negligent - and the jury seem to agree. I'd love to read a legal opinion but haven't found anything so if anyone has, please post it.
posted by fistynuts at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2008


Whitewash or legalease?

I think you'll find it's the law of the land. Certain parts of the case are accepted facts, and everything else is up to the jury to decide. If the accepted facts are such that manslaughter or murder is not alleged, then the judge would be remiss to not instruct the jury as he did.

(I think what happened was completely fucking stupid and incompetent, and the prevailing rules of engagement were equally stupid, but I don't think any officer actually committed manslaughter or murder in their actions)
posted by cillit bang at 1:12 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Via comments at the fpp whitewash link, a piece by John Pilger. The War On Democracy (2007)
posted by acro at 1:17 PM on December 12, 2008


BANNED from considering an unlawful killing verdict. Even though the panel believed the police lied to them, even though they destroyed evidence.

I thought it was more to do with it not being possible to lodge an unlawful killing verdict against the Police as a whole, as the men that actually pulled the trigger were not the ones solely responsible for the errors involved in the shooting.

Can you find an organisation legally culpable of 'unlawful killing'? Who would take the consequences? It's a difficult issue, as even if it were proven that the men pulling the trigger weren't acting completely within guidelines/SOP, they were still acting according to erroneous information from colleagues. The error wasn't solely limited to the shooting itself.
posted by Brockles at 1:20 PM on December 12, 2008


In the interests of removing bias the legalease says Not only is an Inquest an inappropriate forum for attributing blame, it is explicitly forbidden from doing so: the law states that "No verdict shall be framed in such a way as to appear to determine any question of criminal..., or civil liability."
posted by fistynuts at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2008


"The head of the Yard's anti-terror command at the time, former Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, said that terrorists would 'exploit' the 'lack of confidence' in police as a result of the findings."

Did he just say that "It's not that terrorists will exploit our incompetence. It's that they'll exploit you noticing our incompetence. So try to pay it no mind"?

IMHO, it's more likely that the terrorists will exploit the endemic institutional disorganization, failure, and dishonesty that made the quote above possible.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is ok for police officers to wantonly murder anyone they feel like. The police are a different sect of human, and they are exempt from the laws they enforce. They may be kind, clever and good cops, but these aspects still apply to them. Stay away from the police.
posted by fuq at 2:45 PM on December 12, 2008


Er. Nothing about this hearing, nor the past history of the Police in the UK, can possibly lead you to that conclusion, fuq.

It is extremely rare in the UK for a Policeman to have a weapon, never mind even draw one - it is astonishingly rare for them to actually use it. This incident is one of a kind that still pales into insignificance compared to the issue where police cars in high speed chases have resulted in injuries for third parties in crashes. Even that is a tiny number of affected people.

The UK is not the same as your country, so your prejudices aren't necessarily applicable.
posted by Brockles at 2:55 PM on December 12, 2008


The UK is not the same as your country, so your prejudices aren't necessarily applicable.

Fair enough. When you live in a country where police shootings are common you tend to overreact. I am happy about the jury's verdict. I think it is a step in the right direction.
posted by fuq at 3:59 PM on December 12, 2008


It is ok for police officers to wantonly murder anyone they feel like. The police are a different sect of human, and they are exempt from the laws they enforce. They may be kind, clever and good cops, but these aspects still apply to them. Stay away from the police.

Listen, and understand. That police officer is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
posted by Snyder at 4:03 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read fuq and Brockles exhange and I got curious about how often the cops in the UK did shoot someone. I found a Home Office page about policing in England and Wales in 2006/2007. It has link to this PDF with the statistical breakdown.

Obviously I am not the first to wonder this; the second line in the PDF reads:

"The Police discharged a conventional firearm in 3 incidents".
posted by fingerbang at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2008


You know, I thought of him this week when I accidentally showed up at a courtroom security checkpoint with a wire from a smoke alarm in my pocket. (I tossed it in my upturned hat with my cell. Not a word from the guard.)
posted by dhartung at 11:45 PM on December 12, 2008


It is extremely rare in the UK for a policeman to have a weapon, never mind even draw one - it is astonishingly rare for them to actually use it.

Two weeks ago David Sycamore was shot dead by police on the steps of Guildford Cathedral. I don't know the full details, but apparently he had a history of manic depression and often went into the cathedral because he found it a peaceful place. He had a replica gun but doesn't seem to have been waving it around or behaving in a threatening manner.

What disturbed me was how little media coverage the incident got. Most of the press reports focused not on the shooting itself but on the fact that Guildford Cathedral had been used as a location in The Omen. Interestingly, the Daily Mail report was originally headlined 'Man shot dead at Guildford Cathedral a 'psycho obsessed with weapons'' but has now been silently changed in the online edition to 'Depressed loner shot dead by police at Omen cathedral was 'carrying replica gun''.

Quite suddenly, the police use of firearms has been normalised, to the point where the killing of a mentally ill man outside a cathedral no longer merits much attention. This is not a reassuring development.
posted by verstegan at 5:38 AM on December 13, 2008


I'm not sure that the Guildford incident rates on the same scale as the Menezes one, though. Menezes was entirely innocent of any involvement, yet the Sycamore case involved someone with a replica gun in a relatively busy public place - he clearly was waving it about to some degree, as the police were called with an armed response unit (itself unusual) to reports of "an armed man in the area".

Someone having a gun in England is a very, very big thing. It always has been and is dealt with extremely seriously. It is unfortunate that the man was ill (presumably and heavily implied) enough not to throw the weapon down as soon as the police approached him or even beforehand. It is extremely unlikely that he was shot at before any attempt to get him to disarm himself. The officer involved would be instantly dismissed for that.

When someone has a gun in England, it is unlikely that the Police have time for a psychiatric assessment before deciding on action. A long time ago, a guy barricaded in his house kept telling police outside that they had to stay out, as he had a gun (early to mid 90's?). In the end, and after many hours, he was shot dead and the gun was found to be a fake. The Police were heavily criticised despite a gun-shaped item being waved out of a window at them with a man saying "I have a gun".
posted by Brockles at 7:52 AM on December 13, 2008


Yeah, police in britain actually shoot someone with a replica gun or a samurai sword or whatever fairly often, in more or less the same circumstances. It's not really the same thing though, and TBH is a lot more understandable (if not exactly a great advertisment for police with guns).
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2008


Police who shot De Menezes will return to frontline duty
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2008


Can you define 'fairly often'?

By which do you mean something in the region of less than two per year over 12 years?.

Hardly 'often'.
posted by Brockles at 10:48 AM on December 13, 2008


Sounds about right. It's not America or anything but I'm sure it's far too often for those involved.
posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2008


It's not America or anything but I'm sure it's far too often for those involved.

With the CCD cameras, ID cards, network monitoring, and police brutality and murder, perhaps British folks would be better off beginning to spend some time looking at their own situation and their own authorities, and less time shrugging off the situation as "not as bad as the US". And I write that as a citizen of the UK who cares about how bad things seem from the other side of the pond.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 PM on December 13, 2008


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