Innocent man shot by London police in anti-terrorist ‘frenzy’
by Mikey Powell Campaign
published 30th July 2005
Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by armed police on 22nd July 2005, who mistakenly linked him to the four attempted bombings of the previous day. He was shot at least eight times (at least 7 shots were to his head) at close range in Stockwell Tube station. Initial reports claimed that wearing a heavy padded jacket he was chased by armed officers and gunned down in a Tube carriage after he allegedly refused calls to stop, and vaulted ticket barriers.
It later emerged that this account of what happened was far from accurate, and that the unsuspecting Jean Charles was restrained by a number of officers once seated on a train, and was shot several times to the head.
This killing has prompted many questions from the family and supporters.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, amid calls for his resignation, was quizzed about claims that Scotland Yard had resisted the launch of an independent probe into the shooting. Jean Charles’ family accused the Commissioner of lying about aspects of the shooting, and attempting a cover-up.
Jean Charles was born a Brazilian national in 1978. Originally from the town of Gonzaga, 500 miles northeast of Sao Paulo in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.
Traumatized witnesses have relived the catastrophic moment Jean Charles was gunned down on Friday morning. Stunned commuter Mark Whitby was reading a paper on the Victoria line northbound train when it pulled in to Stockwell.
When the doors opened he saw Jean Charles burst in with cops behind. “He kind of tripped and fell and three plain-clothed policemen fell on top of him,” said Mr Whitby, a 47-year-old from Brixton. “Two of them pushed him to the ground then they unloaded about five shots from close range.”
Anger at the killing spilled onto the streets of London in July 2005. A group of Brazilians, some of them friends of Jean Charles, led a crowd hundreds through the streets to demand justice. The impromptu demonstration began at Stockwell tube, south London, where Jean Charles was killed. A thousand people assembled at a vigil called by the Stop the War Coalition and built largely through word of mouth. Sergio Chagas, a friend of Jean Charles, said, “They didn’t give Jean a chance to say anything. It was a complete mistake to shoot to kill—it’s a stupid policy.”
The police tried to block the march when it reached Vauxhall station. Protesters sat down in the road and were eventually allowed through to Vauxhall Bridge. Once there the police used force to prevent the march continuing to parliament.
The shooting dead of Jean Charles De Menezes during a hunt for terrorists amounted to “a state execution”, a leading Liberal Democrat has said.
Matthew Taylor, the party’s former chairman, said the “fundamentals of civil liberties” were under threat from government-led anti-terror efforts. He told a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference in Blackpool: “I’m not prepared to stand by in a country that takes the decision to allow state execution on the basis of suspicion – even suspicion of mass terrorism.”
papers from the probe into Jean Charles’ death, were leaked to ITV, and suggested that he had been restrained before being shot eight times. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it will not comment on its investigation.
The documents, including witness statements, also suggest Jean Charles did not hurdle the barrier at Stockwell tube station and was not wearing a padded jacket that could have concealed a bomb, as eyewitness reports previously suggested. The family of Jean and supporters have repeatedly called for a public inquiry into his death.