DCSIMG

Blunders led to police killing of an innocent man

Key points

• Leaked documents claim suspect was not running away when shot

• Earlier claims on suspect's dress and vaulting of barrier also challenged

• Revelations will add to embarrassment of Met Police over killing

Key quote

"As he walked out of my line of vision I checked the photographs and transmitted that it would be worth someone else having a look. I should point out that, as I observed this male exiting the block, I was in the process of relieving myself." - SURVEILLANCE OFFICER

Story in full AN INNOCENT man shot dead by police who mistook him for a suicide bomber was not running away from armed officers, was grabbed by them before being killed and was never adequately identified as a suspect, according to leaked police documents revealed last night.

Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician, stopped to pick up a newspaper and used a travelcard to pass through the ticket barrier of a London Tube station, according to witness statements obtained by ITV News - contradicting earlier claims that he had vaulted the barriers and sprinted down the escalators.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shown wearing a blue denim jacket in forensic photographs obtained by the channel, as opposed to earlier claims that he was wearing a bulky winter coat before he was shot on board a Tube train. And one officer earlier failed to identify Mr de Menezes because he was "relieving himself" during the surveillance operation.

The extraordinary revelations will add to the embarrassment of the Metropolitan Police, which is already expected to have to pay more than 500,000 in compensation to the victim's family, and came as the force announced an expansion of its firearms unit to cope with the terrorism threat.

The leaked documents give a startling insight into blunders made during the surveillance operation on 22 July, the day after four attempted transport bombings in London.

Both surveillance and firearms officers had been using photos of suspects taken from a gym membership card found in one of the bombers' flats.

One surveillance officer admitted he could not identify Mr de Menezes because he was relieving himself as the Brazilian left his home - a block of flats in Tulse Hill where it was thought one of the bombers, Hussain Osman, lived.

"As he walked out of my line of vision I checked the photographs and transmitted that it would be worth someone else having a look. I should point out that, as I observed this male exiting the block, I was in the process of relieving myself.

"At this time I was not able to transmit my observations and switch on the video camera at the same time. There is therefore no video footage of this male."

A second officer also failed to give a positive identification but claimed the suspect had "distinctive Mongolian eyes".

While none of the officers was sure he was the suspect, they followed him as he caught a bus towards Stockwell. By this time, the officers became convinced he was the terrorist suspect and senior commanders declared a "Code Red" - handing the operation over to officers at the Metropolitan Police SO19 tactical firearms unit, who were given the task of apprehending Mr de Menezes - with permission to shoot if necessary.

SO19 was told he must not be allowed to enter a station, but the delay in identification meant Mr de Menezes had already gone into Stockwell Tube station when officers arrived. CCTV captured Mr de Menezes entering the station at a "normal walking pace", even collecting a free Metro newspaper, and slowly descending on an escalator.

"At some point near the bottom he is seen to run across the concourse ... and enter the carriage before sitting in an available seat. Almost simultaneously armed officers ... were provided with positive identification," the document says.

One eyewitness on the train said: "[Mr de Menezes] paused, looked right, looked left and then selected an empty seat."

But this contradicts earlier claims he ran all the way on to the train and refused to stop when officers shouted.

A man sitting opposite him on the Tube is quoted as saying: "Within a few seconds I saw a man coming into the double doors to my left. He was pointing a small black handgun towards a person sitting opposite me. He pointed the gun at the right-hand side of the man's head. The gun was within 12 inches of the man's head when the first shot was fired."

But a member of the surveillance team said in the report: "I heard shouting which included the word 'police', and turned to face the male in the denim jacket. He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the SO19 officers ... I grabbed the male by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side.

"I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting ... I then heard a gunshot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage."

The report also said a post-mortem examination showed Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, but three other bullets missed, with the casings left lying in the Tube carriage.

Evidence of the incident should have been provided by CCTV footage from dozens of cameras covering the Stockwell ticket hall, escalators, platforms and train carriages, but police say most of the cameras were not working.

The botched operation is already the subject of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation. The commission is assessing whether rules for dealing with suspected suicide bombers were complied with, and whether Mr de Menezes was killed lawfully.

An inquest will also be held into the death, which has raised widespread concerns about the police's "shoot-to-kill policy".

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "It is not appropriate to comment while there is an ongoing investigation."

Harriet Wistrich, a lawyer for the de Menezes family, said: "I think it is absolutely shocking and terrifying. Shocking certainly in the sense that we now know that the information that was being put out at the start is false in many respects."

"For the family, they can now be absolutely assured that not only was he entirely innocent, but that he was doing nothing that should have warranted the police reaction. It's further shocking that even if he was the suspect, the police allowed him to travel on a bus.

"He was carrying nothing; he was wearing nothing that would suggest that he was hiding explosives. He was enabled to travel all the way down the escalators and get on to a Tube, and he was shot with the intention of killing him."

Scotland Yard said it could not comment while the IPCC investigation was ongoing.

 
 
 

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