De Menezes 'shot for 30 seconds'
Witness feared terrorists were attacking train as police fired at Brazilian, leaked statement reveals
Vikram Dodd and Hugh Muir
Friday August 26, 2005
Armed police officers fired at Jean Charles de Menezes for over 30 seconds when they killed him at Stockwell tube station, according to a witness statement made to independent investigators and obtained by the Guardian.
The witness says the shots were fired at intervals of three seconds and that she ran for her life fearing terrorists had opened fire on commuters.
The death of the innocent Brazilian, who was mistaken for a suicide bomber, is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Much of the immediate eyewitness evidence after the shooting proved to be wrong.
But the witness correctly said that 11 shots were fired - a fact which was not made public at the time.
The account from Sue Thomason, a freelance journalist from south London, gives new detail of the shooting and of the terror witnesses endured.
In her statement she says: "The shots were evenly spaced with about three seconds between the shots, for the first few shots, then a gap of a little longer, then the shots were evenly spaced again."
Mr de Menezes was killed on July 22 on a tube train after being followed from his flat by undercover officers and soldiers who were hunting terrorists behind failed bombing attacks on London on July 21.
On the morning of July 22 Ms Thomason was on her way to work, and was reading a book as the train pulled into Stockwell.
Her statement to the IPCC says: "When the tube was stationary at the platform at Stockwell I recall shouting, it was a male's voice, it may have come from more than one male. People then started to get out of their seats and look in the direction where the shouting was coming from.
"I recall hearing gunshots... The shooting was coming from the carriage to the left of me. When I heard the gunshots I thought it was terrorists firing into the crowd. I thought about getting behind a seat... After the initial first shots... I left the carriage."
She and other commuters started running along the platform to leave the station.
Her statement continues: "While I was making my way to the escalator I remember hearing more shots coming from behind me. I thought that I would be shot in the back... Half way up the escalator I remember looking behind me and hearing two more shots... "Once I got outside the station my legs went.
"I would say there was 10 or 11 shots fired. The shots were ... evenly spaced out (timewise)."
She says two IPCC investigators who interviewed her were equipped with a map of Stockwell tube which had key features in the wrong place. This initially led them wrongly to challenge her account.
In an email of complaint to the IPCC she wrote: "If the people investigating such a serious matter... can't even get the plan of the station correct for interviewees to point out where they were, then what chance does the rest of the case have?"
She also says a key detail she gave of the number of shots and the interval between them was missed from her final statement until she insisted it be included: "I'm not anti the IPCC, I just want them to get it right."
The IPCC last night said it was unable to comment on the witness statement but in a separate development announced that it had received - and rejected - a complaint from a Scotland Yard firearms officer.
The officer had lodged the complaint over comments made by IPCC director John Wadham last week when he spoke of the Metropolitan police's "resistance" to the IPCC running the inquiry.
Government plans to crack down on alleged extremists after the attacks on London will today come under attack from a coalition of politicians, unions, pressure groups, faith groups and writers who state their "grave concerns".
The initiative, led by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and launched with a letter to the Guardian, involves signatories from groups such as Liberty, the Muslim Council of Britain, Unison, the GMB, the Refugee Council and the Green party - as well as Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten, former ministers Frank Dobson and Tony Lloyd, Labour peers Lord Bhatia and Lord Ahmed and the Very Reverend Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark.
In the statement, the group says: "We support the police and measures against those who plan, support or carry out such terrorist attacks.
"However, a number of the security measures which the government has said it is considering risk criminalising or excluding people who condemn terrorist attacks and whose cooperation is indispensable to the work of the police in fighting terrorism."
Meanwhile, a study in the online version of the British Medical Journal today reveals that almost a third of Londoners suffered serious stress after the July 7 attacks.
Terrorism threat to UK
Home Office: guide to terrorism legislation
UK resilience - Civil Contingencies Secretariat
Full text: the law lords' ruling on the detention of foreign terror suspects (December 2004)
Islamic Human Rights Commission
Liberty human rights organisation
Metropolitan police - counter terrorism section
Ministry of Defence
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