Insufficient evidence, but only if it’s the police


by Kulvinder
17th July, 2006 at 12:51 pm    

The CPS has decided not to charge any officers in relation to the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting. They have instead decided to pursue the Met Police. I’m ambivalent about the situation. The general public and media seem to be ‘forgiving’ of the police and individual officers when they make mistakes. Even if those mistakes end in the death of innocent civilians. I hold no grudge against the officers concerned but I can’t help but compare this situation to that of a doctor, nurse or teacher in charge when tragedy occurs.

The notion of ‘killer medics’ or ‘incompetent teachers’ is, to my mind anyway, far more widespread than similar feelings about the police. I’m sure the press will write righteous editorials on how the police are protecting us from harm and that accidents occur. I broadly support the decision of the CPS, charge the organisation not the individuals.

Retire or transfer those involved if need be but don’t find scapegoats for the failings of an entire system. I just wish the CPS, the law, the police and society would think likewise when dealing with other professionals in a similar situation.


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  1. sonia — on 17th July, 2006 at 1:26 pm  

    I think we really need a focus on how poor ‘Intelligence’ seems to be nowadays. after all – weren’t the police acting on ‘Intelligence’ received? generally Intelligence seems to be anything but.

  2. contrarymary — on 17th July, 2006 at 2:26 pm  

    sonia – the police weren’t acting on intelligence received. they had a house under surveillance in tulse hill. and one of the surveillance officers went for a toilet break, they missed Jean Charles emerge from the house NEXTDOOR to the residence they were observing. they then assumed he had come out of the residence they were observing and thought he was a terrorist about to detonate a bomb on the tube.

    it’s not so much poor intelligence, as Jean Charles being of the wrong complexion, and the wrong place at the wrong time.

    I’m 110% behind the police in preventing terrorism, and maintaing law and order but what happened is unforgivable. and exacerbated by the malicious lies, the met police disseminated to cover up

    for example the police said Jean Charles jumped over the ticket barrier and ran down the escalators. he did not he used his oyster card and picked up a metro and went down the escalator before boarding a train, where he was captured by two officers and then shot SEVEN TIMES in the head.

    this stinks. big time.

  3. Arif — on 17th July, 2006 at 2:34 pm  

    The misinformation was also sinister to me – it is still currency that he was wearing a puffer jacket, jumped over the barriers, ran away when challenged and so on with people I talk to now. Has this been clearly established as misinformation in the IPCC report and, if so, where it came from?

    But the decision not to prosecute does upset me – I would rather err on protecting the innocent. And the expectation of thorough IPCC investigations into shootings should be some kind of safeguard against extrajudicial killings in future.

    There should be some sort of punishment and safeguard against misinformation though. I think if he had been a Muslim it would have been a lot harder to dispel the suspicions and put a stop to the lies being spread about him.

  4. Arif — on 17th July, 2006 at 2:34 pm  

    * I meant the decision not to prosecute DOESN’t upset me!

  5. StrangelyPsychedelique / Kesara — on 17th July, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    I think the likehood the firearms officers killed Demenzes for being of the wrong colour is fairly slim.
    They were faced with a choice – SOMETHING made them pull that trigger and given that he didnt run into the station etc that something lies with faulty intelligence and poor leadership. The shooters are in an incredibly difficult situation and in this case chose to act.
    I’d rather they act than didnt. Unless they are severely incompetent – which is something I cant quite place as Im unfamilliar with the vetting process, I can only imagine in a society so averse to the use of firearms it is quite stringent.

    From what I’ve read it sounds like a lack of having the right resources in the right place. The French are known for putting upto 100 agents to watch virtually every angle of a possible terrorist situation. With the right sort of command and control system it leaves less room for f*ck ups like the deMenzes incident, to occur.
    Naturally with a stretched police force following the bombings this is going to be difficult but thats soemthing that has to be dealt with.

    Someone has to be held accountable for this , but I dont think it is the officers who fired the shots, unless I read otherwise (and im yet to read the whole report).

  6. contrarymary — on 17th July, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

    strangely psychedelique – the whole incident smacks of incompetence. the police let a man who they thought was carrying explosives and willing to detonate them, board a bus. and go on a 15 minute bus journey to stockwell tube station. why did they not approach him or apprehend him BEFORE boarding the bus?

    it’s also established that he was shot because the police did not have any radio communications on the underground…

    so the officers acted of their own accord. even if their superiors had given the command to hold fire, they would not know because we live in such an antiquated world that the police can’t possibly have radio underground can they??

    CC camera footage was lost, lies disseminated. false rape allegations too. it’s the cover up, and complete lack of accountability that deserves punishing. this is so wrong. since when is the rule of law/habeas corpus expendable?

  7. Kulvinder — on 17th July, 2006 at 3:18 pm  

    If anything id hope the actions of the police in terms of PR but more seriously in terms of how they acted with regards to the eviidence (charges of forgery were considered, im curious why no attempted perversion of justice though) shuts up anyone wanting to lessen police paperwork or bureaucracy. John Humble was sentenced to 8 years for perverting the course of justice. The officers involved with the Birmingham Six and Guildford four are living in happy retirement.

    The police havent emerged from this in glowing terms, the recent false raid and shooting underlines that.

  8. El Cid — on 17th July, 2006 at 5:21 pm  

    Unusually for me, I have quite a lot of sympathy for the police on this one. I remember how charged the atmosphere was just after 7/7. I remember sheer panic on a bus at Kings Cross a few days later when a simple fire started in the back engine and there were people panicking and jumping out of windows.. madness.
    Even the trigger-happyness of the men firing the shots is understandable if you envisage a scenario where they are convinced that they have their man and they are facing someone who might have an explosive device about their person that could be detonated at any time.
    That said, how the fuck could they have got it so wrong? So serious were the intelligence flaws, that it is really very hard to avoid concluding that the organisation responsible was so incompetent and so seriously prejudiced that it was not fit for the purpose of fighting terrorism and defending our city.
    What also stinks is the MP’s long-established but hard-to-prove tendency to misinform through leaks in order to influence press coverage when they get things wrong. It really is the most cuntish behaviour.
    As someone who has long campaigned on the issue of deaths in police custody (maybe campaigned is too strong, sent money, attended presentations, written letters –that kind of level), it is something I know full well.
    I remember when a school friend Roger Sylvester was brutally killed in police custody — perhaps it’s a name some of you recall. The word from the police and in the papers was that he was some kind of psycho. But I can assure you that he wasn’t. Sure, he got slashed across the face when he was 18 years old — it’s the kind of thing that might make a deep impression on you. But a dangerous mental case he wasn’t. The police, frankly, close rank too often and behave as if they are above the law. With their powerful PR and legal machine, victims of police crime don’t stand a chance.
    Still, it could be worse — at least they are not like the Brazilian police.

  9. Ravi Naik — on 17th July, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

    “The CPS has decided not to charge any officers in relation to the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting.”

    They are investigating the wrong people. The officers who shot Menezes were following orders. Those who orchestrated this fucked up operation and those who lied about it afterwards should be held accountable, not the ones who pulled the trigger.

  10. Katy Newton — on 17th July, 2006 at 6:04 pm  

    I agree with Ravi Naik. If a doctor tells a nurse to give someone an injection and the nurse does it in good faith because she trusts the doctor to know it’s right, you pursue the doctor, not the nurse. That is not necessarily a perfect analogy but it’s close.

  11. Don — on 17th July, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    I agree with Ravi Naik, Katy and others, the officers at the sharp end had to act on the information they had as though it were 100%. They had no leeway.

    The apparent incompetence of the intelligence aspects must be held to account, even if the final explanation is that they were just overwhelmed by the situation. Someone is responsible.

    But the real offence, the really ugly part of this mess, is the wriggling and cover-up that seems to be too often the first reaction of the system to any fiasco.

    Incidentally, Kulvinder’s original post raised an interesting point about the way different systems react to serious foul-ups; some close ranks and promise to review procedures, others are keen to hang individuals out to dry when they are often no more than the unlucky sods on call when the statistically inevitable system failure occurs. I parted company with Labour before Iraq, a painful break as I come from a long line of Labour and T.U. supporters and activists, partly because of their pusilanimous approach to corporate killing.

    When was the last time a senior public figure actually took responsibility in anything resembling an honourable way? Carrington?

  12. Chairwoman — on 17th July, 2006 at 8:03 pm  

    I’ve got a bit of a thing about people in high-risk occupations being subject to criminal charges if they make a mistake at work. Unless the doctor/dentist/lawyer/policeman etc is an absolute charletan, the error is exactly that. I am sure very few people go to work with the intention of killing/ruining the life of their patient, client, prisoner. If you work in the city, advertising, accountancy etc and you make an error you may be dismissed, but you are unlikely to be taken to court, and you won’t use your pension rights.

    Obviously questions have to be asked and there should be some sort of repercussions, but a prison sentence doesn’t help anyone.

    That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some evil people out there who should be prosecuted, but it shouldn’t be the norm.

    Any suggestions.

  13. Vikrant — on 18th July, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    Oh shit now even BSNL is blocking blogspot. But most importantly they’ve blocked by favorite porn site :( . Cant wait to get back home.

  14. Vikrant — on 18th July, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    err wrong thread !

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