Scotland Yard admitted Saturday that a man police officers gunned down at point-blank range in front of horrified subway passengers on Friday had nothing to do with the investigation into the bombing attacks here.
The man was identified by police as Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian, described by officers as an electrician on his way to work. “He was not connected to incidents in central London on 21st July, 2005, in which four explosive devices were partly detonated,” a police statement said.
The London police have been busy defending their use of deadly force:
The head of London’s police force expressed deep regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian man by officers who mistook him for a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but defended the police use of deadly force.
The man shot Friday at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, a Brazilian citizen. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him five times in the head and torso in front of horrified passengers.
Police initially said they believed Menezes was linked to the investigation of Thursday’s attacks, but later said he had no connection to the bomb attempts.
“This is a tragedy,” Commissioner Blair said of the shooting. “The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets.”
He defended the officers’ shooting to kill, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk.
“I am very aware that minority communities are talking about a shoot to kill policy; it’s only a shoot to kill in order to protect policy,” he said.
Expressing ‘deep regret’ on this is appropriate, I think. But I’m with Jay Tea in that an apology should not be offered because the victim did just about everything a bomber would do:
He did everything that a bomber would do, and deliberately chose not to do the things that would have allowed the police to determine he was not a threat before they were forced to shoot and kill him.
In the meantime, Brazil’s government is “shocked and perplexed.” But I have to wonder what the Brazil police would have done in the same situation. The words “shocked” and “perplexed” don’t seem to fit as a description of the London police’s actions here. Considering the wave of terrorist attacks that have hit London in the last two weeks, they acted as they were supposed to. My sympathies go out to the family of the victim in this case of mistaken identity, but the London police shouldn’t modify their policy in light of this incident. The moral of this story is: if you’re not guilty of anything, don’t run.
Afternoon update 2 p.m. ET: Joe Gandelman weighs in with his view and brings up a point I hadn’t considered:
We hope policymakers and police realize that this death and the likely controversy over it raises a NEW DANGER: that terrorist forces may try to set up a situation in which innocents are killed, which would then accentuate any existing controversies.
Read the whole thing, including his roundup of blogger commentary on this issue.
Also: Wanted to highlight this thoughtful post from Arthur Chrenkoff on the matter (double winks to Joe Gandelman, who included Chrenkoff’s link in his post I linked to above).
There’s a larger point here, and it’s this: the press takes stories like this one, and reports them like this, and then wonders why we don’t think they’re on board with this war. They wonder why we’re watching Fox News. Say what you will about Fox’s many faults, but at least FNC acts like an American company during wartime. Meanwhile, the NYT is doing its damnedest to paint Tony Blair’s Britain as a fascist police state.
Again, that’s a must read this morning.