After all the gigabytes folks consumed arguing that Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician, who was shot eight times last month on the London Underground, deserved what he got for essentially looking suspicious, I hope an equal number of gigabytes of outrage will be forthcoming from the same folks now that it turns out the story the British Police offered seems to be very, very different from what actually happened that day:
A Brazilian shot to death a day after botched bombings in London had walked casually onto a train before being gunned down by undercover officers, according to leaked footage that appeared to contradict earlier police reports that said the man disobeyed police orders.
Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was shot eight times last month in front of terrified commuters on a subway train, after undercover police tailed him from a house under surveillance.
Police first said the shooting was related to the failed bombings on the London transit system July 21 — two weeks after four suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up in three Underground stations and aboard one double-decker bus.
Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, called the death regrettable, but said it appeared "the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions."
Citing security footage, a British television station reported Tuesday that Menezes entered the Stockwell subway station at a normal walking pace, stopping to pick up a newspaper before boarding a train and taking a seat.
The ITV News broadcast, citing an investigation report into the shooting, also said Menezes was wearing a light denim jacket when he was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. Witness reports described a terrifying scene of the man — wearing a bulky jacket on a warm July day — running through the train station, being tackled by a group of undercover police officers, then being shot several times at close range.
Now here's the thing. In the US we're constantly pooh-poohed when we question the PATRIOT ACT and other measures that strengthen the law enforcement efforts to stop terrorism. "If you don't do anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about from these laws," is the conventional wisdom. Of course, though, that only applies if you can implicitly trust the authorities.
If this report turns out to reveal what it looks like it reveals, I cannot imagine the London Police will be able to re-build their credibility for ages. At the very least, Ian Blair owes the public (not to mention Menezes' family) one huge apology.
UPDATE: The BBC's account explains why Menezes was seen running:
The leaked documents, seemingly from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the shooting, contradict eyewitness reports suggesting Mr de Menezes hurdled a barrier at Stockwell tube station and was wearing a padded jacket that could have concealed a bomb.
They now suggest the Brazilian had walked into Stockwell Tube station, picked up a free newspaper, walked through ticket barriers, started to run when he saw a train arriving and was sitting down in a train when he was shot.
Scotland Yard had said on the day of the shooting - 24 hours after the 21 July failed attacks - that "his clothing and his behaviour at the station added to their suspicions".