Tragic trail of police blunders over shooting


Last updated at 09:23 17 August 2005

A series of catastrophic police blunders led to the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes after he was wrongly identified as a suicide bomber, it has emerged.

With revelations which will severely embarrass Scotland Yard, the leaked report of an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation shows a fundamental intelligence failure.

The lawyer for the de Menezes family said the leak "raises very, very serious questions about the shoot-to-kill policy".

It discloses how a key surveillance officer was watching a suspect address in South-East London as 27-year-old Mr de Menezes left on his last journey.

The officer should have taken video footage which would have helped identify the suspect to colleagues. But he was relieving himself at the time and could not switch on the camera.

The report also reveals how the victim was totally unaware that he was being followed, that there was no police chase and that he did nothing to arouse suspicion.

He was not wearing a padded jacket as previously claimed and did not vault the ticket barrier but walked calmly and slowly on to the platform at Stockwell Underground station, even pausing to pick up a copy of a free newspaper.

Photographs taken immediately after the shooting show the dead man in a denim jacket lying in a pool of blood.

The report also includes a witness statement which tells how Mr de Menezes had actually taken his seat in the carriage before a surveillance officer threw his arms around him and marksmen shot him eight times, seven in the head.

Incredibly, despite being fired at point-blank range, three bullets from the two specially-trained marksmen missed the Brazilian completely, the report says.

'Same Mongolian eyes'

One of the clinching factors in the mistaken identification appears to have been the fact that some of the officers agreed Mr de Menezes had the 'same Mongolian eyes' as one of the terror suspects.

A senior Scotland Yard officer has already flown to Brazil to make a compensation offer to the dead man's family. The report's devastating disclosures raise crucial questions about the entire police operation and were described as 'shocking and terrifying' by the family's lawyer last night.

Harriet Wistrich, lawyer for the de Menezes family, told BBC Breakfast today: "It raises very, very serious questions about the shoot-to-kill policy and shows immediate questions need to be asked about whether this policy should be in operation and how dangerously wrong it can go."

"The family have always known that this was absolutely an outrageous mistake, at the very least, and that their son was entirely innocent," she said.

"When I went to meet with them in Brazil, they were completely incredulous at news that the CCTV was not working.

"They are very keen to get the full truth and justice.

"But clearly we now know that Jean Charles was doing absolutely nothing to arouse any suspicion, he was just unfortunate to be living in a block of flats that was under surveillance and to look slightly brown skinned."


The report, leaked to ITV News, comes at a time of a growing belief within the Metropolitan Police that criminal charges will result from the investigation and provides powerful evidence for those demanding a full public inquiry.

It tells how a surveillance and firearms team was sent to a block of flats in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill on July 22, the day after the wave of failed suicide bombings and three weeks after the July 7 attacks which left 56 dead and 700 wounded.

A gym membership card with a Scotia Road address on it had been found among the debris of the unexploded bombs and the watching police had been issued with photographs taken from CCTV of the four bomb suspects.

They believed that one of two suspects, including Shepherd's Bush bomber Hussain Osman, was living at the flat. Ethopian-born Osman, 27, is now facing extradition from Italy.

The investigation report states that the firearms unit of the police had been told that "a critical shot may be taken".

One firearms officer told the inquiry team: "No subject coming out of the address would be allowed to run and an interception should take place as soon as possible."

At 9.30am Mr de Menezes left his home. One surveillance officer is quoted as saying: "As he walked out of my line of vision I checked the photographs and transmitted that 'it would be worth somebody else having a look'.

"I should point out that as I observed this male exiting the block I was relieving myself. 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."

The report states: "De Menezes was observed walking to a bus stop and then boarding a bus to Stockwell Tube station.

"During the course of this, his description and demeanour was assessed and it was believed he matched the identity of one of the suspects wanted for terrorist offences... the information was passed through the operations centre."

Clearance to kill

The report quotes an unidentified officer who followed Mr de Menezes to the bus stop as saying: "I could not positively identify this male as Hussain Osman... but he had distinctive 'Mongolian eyes'."

Gold Command at Scotland Yard then "made the decision and gave appropriate instructions that de Menezes was to be prevented from entering the Tube system. At this stage responsibility was handed over to CO19 (the Yard's firearms unit)".

This gave officers clearance to kill the Brazilian but it remains unclear why he was allowed to enter the Underground system against such specific instructions. CCTV footage exists at the entrance to the station but not on the platform.

The report says: "CCTV has captured de Menezes entering the station at normal walking pace, collecting a free Metro newspaper from a paper rack and slowly descending on the escalator.

"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."

While all officers had photographs of the real suspects, who made that identification, how and why is not answered in the report.

Witness accounts given to the inquiry team say Mr de Menezes boarded the train, paused, looked right and left, then took a seat facing the platform. A passenger said: "Within a few seconds I saw a man coming into the doors. He was pointing a small black handgun towards a person sitting opposite me. He pointed the gun at the right side of the man's head. The gun was within 12 inches of the man's head when the first shot was fired."

For the first time the report tells how a member of the surveillance team became physically involved, grabbing Mr de Menezes before he was shot.

"I heard shouting that included the word 'police' and turned to face the male in the denim jacket," the officer said. "He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 officers. I grabbed him by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side.

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