London police resist shooting probe, group says - International Terrorism - MSNBC.com

Aug. 18, 2005

LONDON - The police oversight group investigating the shooting death of a Brazilian man mistaken for a bomber last month accused London police Thursday of resisting an independent investigation into his death.

The sharp comments came after lawyers for Jean Charles de Menezes’ family met the watchdog group, demanding answers amid allegations of a police cover-up — a charge that Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair denied Thursday.

John Wadham, chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said “the Metropolitan Police initially resisted us taking on the investigation but we overcame that.”

'Chaotic mess'
Pressure on police has been growing after news reports, citing leaked documents and closed-circuit TV footage, called into question initial reports about what happened.

Lawyers for the Brazilian man’s family also accused authorities of trying to intervene and delay the investigation into how Menezes had become a victim of the shoot-to-kill policy.

“This has been a chaotic mess,” said lawyer Gareth Peirce, one of the attorneys representing the Menezes family.

“One of the things we asked the (police commission) to investigate is: Are there lies that have been told? Who told them?” Peirce said.

The police commissioner denied the allegations.

“These allegations strike to the heart of the integrity of the police and integrity of the Met and I fundamentally reject them,” Blair said in an interview with London’s Evening Standard published late Thursday. “There was no cover-up.”

Initial statements inaccurate
In the heightened state of anxiety following the failed attacks, witnesses reported that Menezes, who they claimed was dressed and acting suspiciously, jumped over station ticket barriers before bolting from armed officers toward a train.

Blair told journalists on July 22, the day of the shooting, that Menezes failed to obey police instructions and officers said “his clothing and his behavior at the station added to (police) suspicions.”

While Blair initially insisted Menezes was linked to the terror investigation, it soon become clear that he had no connection to the failed attacks and police expressed their deep regret at the shooting.

A leaked report into Menezes’ death that was made by public by Britain’s ITV television on Tuesday also suggested the initial police statements about what happened that day were inaccurate.

Menezes was followed by officers for more than a half-hour before the shooting and no attempts were made to stop him, according to ITV. The surveillance officer who called in reports about Menezes described him as wearing a denim jacket and carrying nothing, but suggested he was “worth someone else having a look.”

The Brazilian calmly entered the Stockwell tube station, paused to pick up a free newspaper and used his travel card to pass through the barriers, the closed-circuit footage showed.

After descending the escalator and running to catch his train, Menezes took a seat on the subway train and was pointed out to armed police by one of at least three surveillance officers who had been followed him.

The surveillance officer says he then “heard shouting which included the word 'police,”’ ITV reported. Menezes stood up and walked toward the surveillance officer, who tackled Menezes and pushed him back into the seat, then “I heard a gunshot very close to my ear and was dragged away on to the floor,” the officer said.

The Daily Mirror, citing unidentified police officials, reported Thursday that the officer leading the operation, Commander Cressida Dick, had ordered Menezes to be detained before he got on the train and to be taken alive. Police refused to comment on the reports.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that Blair wrote to the head of the independent investigation group on the day of the shooting while police still believed Menezes was a suspected bomber. Blair wanted “to clarify the role of the IPCC ... this was because it was crucial that the terrorist investigation took precedence over any IPCC investigation at that time.”

London police resist shooting probe, group says - International Terrorism - MSNBC.com


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