Doubts grow over facts of Tube shooting
THE gaily coloured banners and balloons decorating the streets give the impression of an impromptu homecoming party. But as more than 8,000 people began filing through the farming community of Gonzaga, Brazil, on Friday it was clear this was no celebration.
Mourners who lined up to pass by the coffin of Jean Charles de Menezes could barely conceal their anger at the innocent Brazilian's death at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. "It wasn't just Jean that the British police shot," said the mayor of Gonzaga. "These shots injured every single Brazilian heart."
Here in Britain pressure is mounting over the Met's controversial shoot-to-kill policy. A week after de Menezes was shot in Stockwell Street Tube station serious doubts have been raised over the circumstances in which he died.
Yesterday it emerged that de Menezes, who was shot eight times, may not have jumped over a ticket barrier to escape his police pursuers, as originally claimed. Relatives living in London also insist he was not wearing a bulky winter coat, which police said had raised their suspicions that he could be carrying a suicide bomb.
Documents leaked to newspapers also suggest police are now operating under orders not to challenge suicide bombers or identify themselves before firing a critical headshot. This raises questions over whether de Menezes was aware that he was being pursued by officers and whether he had an opportunity to surrender.
The electrician was followed from his home in Tulse Hill, South London, to the underground station, where he was chased on to a Tube train. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating officers' actions, has appealed for witnesses to the shooting and must now address these key issues:
Did police identify themselves and was there a chance for de Menezes to surrender?
Following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, British police were given guidelines on dealing with suicide bombers in confidential briefing papers. They state officers should "not attempt to approach, challenge and/or negotiate" with suspected bombers as this could be "likely to trigger denotation".
But Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair claimed his armed officers had challenged de Menezes, and that he did not obey their orders.
All the officers were dressed in plain clothes and none of the witnesses has so far described hearing the word "police".
Why was he not stopped earlier?
De Menezes lived in a block of flats under surveillance as a suspected bombers' hideout.
Yet he was allowed to board a bus near his home, before reaching the Tube station.
The mystery of the winter coat.
Official sources originally said de Menezes had been wearing a padded fleece jacket, creating the suspicion that he could be concealing something close to his body. His family have now been told he was in fact wearing a denim jacket.
When did he start running and who jumped over the ticket barrier?
Initial witness accounts suggested the Brazilian had vaulted over the ticket barrier at Stockwell station, causing further fear and alarm. Police now say he had in fact used his weekly Travelcard to get through. It now appears that the description of someone jumping over the barriers could in fact have been of a police officer in pursuit of his quarry.
Witnesses have said that by the time he reached the train de Menezes was running for his life. So did he mistake the police for muggers or terrorists? CCTV from the station could hold the key.
Why did he run from officers?
It has been suggested that he may have been trying to escape from police because he was living in London illegally.
However, friends insist he was not frightened by encounters with officers. Just days before he was allegedly stopped by police in a random search who examined his documents and electrician's tool bag.
Was the intelligence flawed and who authorised the shooting?
It remains unclear whether the police knew exactly which flat the suspected bomber was living in.
The IPCC will want to know if they were in fact watching the wrong flat.
Could they have used a stun gun?
Sir Ian Blair has insisted lethal force was the only available option to his officers, but the use of a Taser stun gun by West Midlands police on Wednesday during the arrest of Yasin Hassan Omar begs the question, could de Menezes have been brought down alive?
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