He didn’t run.

Police photograph of Juan Charles de Menezes' bodyRemember Juan Charles de Menezes? He’s the Brazilian electrician who was shot seven times in the head by the Metropolitan Police, after he ran from anti-terrorist officers who suspected him of being a suicide bomber, and who chased him after he had vaulted over a ticket barrier at Stockwell underground station.

Well, it now turns out that the whole thing was a pack of lies: apart, sadly, from the bit about him being shot seven times in the mouth from point-blank range. Leaked documents from the police investigation show that:

  • Mr Menezes did not realise he was being followed.
  • He didn’t run.
  • He didn’t vault over the ticket barrier – he bought a ticket, picked up a free newspaper and boarded the train calmly.
  • He wasn’t wearing a “padded jacket”: his denim jacket can clearly be seen in the above photograph, if you can bear to look that closely.
  • He was already being held by one officer when he was shot while seated in the carriage: “I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting … I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage” (police officer’s statement to the investigation).

It is also alleged that no video footage was taken of Mr de Menezes leaving his flat, because the police officer on surveillance was relieving himself at the time. Well, I’m sorry, but in the light of everything else, I simply don’t believe that. I suspect that’s another shoddy attempt to maintain a last fig-leaf of “innocent human error” to justify the police actions (the most charitable description of which would now appear to be criminal gross negligence, if not outright murder).

What really angers me is the propaganda that was pumped out by the authorities in order to “manage” the public response to this outrage. “He was running from the police”, “he jumped over the ticket barrier”, “he was an illegal immigrant”, all lies or irrelevant smears intended to defuse public anger by producing a response that could be summed up as, “Well, ghastly business, but I guess the police had no choice”.

And I’m angry with myself for falling for this sort of propaganda every time. I fell for it in 1991, I fell for it in 2003, and I fell for it this time.

But to return to the point, you might be wondering if it would be too much to expect the Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to resign over this. Well, yes, I expect it would.

Update: The BBC has a side-by-side comparison of the initial reports versus the new evidence.

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40 Responses to He didn’t run.

  1. Craig S says:

    The whole thing is bizarre John. Why on earth was he shot? I cant believe it was a pre-meditated execution – there must be *some* explanation, good or bad…

  2. Craig S says:

    The whole thing is bizarre John. Why on earth was he shot? I cant believe it was a pre-meditated execution – there must be *some* explanation, good or bad…

  3. Craig S says:

    The whole thing is bizarre John. Why on earth was he shot? I cant believe it was a pre-meditated execution – there must be *some* explanation, good or bad…

  4. Craig S says:

    The whole thing is bizarre John. Why on earth was he shot? I cant believe it was a pre-meditated execution – there must be *some* explanation, good or bad…

  5. Seamus says:

    Actually, I think he really *was* an illegal immigrant, in the sense that he had overstayed his visa and was thus illegally in the country.
    Of course, saying that in defense of the police is a little like what George Tyrell said of the Jesuits, that when accused of the murder of three men and a dog, they would triumphantly produce the dog alive.
    And in answer to Craig S’s question, no, it wasn’t a pre-meditated execution, but you can explain a lot more by assuming incompetence and stupidity rather than malice.

  6. Seamus says:

    Actually, I think he really *was* an illegal immigrant, in the sense that he had overstayed his visa and was thus illegally in the country.
    Of course, saying that in defense of the police is a little like what George Tyrell said of the Jesuits, that when accused of the murder of three men and a dog, they would triumphantly produce the dog alive.
    And in answer to Craig S’s question, no, it wasn’t a pre-meditated execution, but you can explain a lot more by assuming incompetence and stupidity rather than malice.

  7. Seamus says:

    Actually, I think he really *was* an illegal immigrant, in the sense that he had overstayed his visa and was thus illegally in the country.
    Of course, saying that in defense of the police is a little like what George Tyrell said of the Jesuits, that when accused of the murder of three men and a dog, they would triumphantly produce the dog alive.
    And in answer to Craig S’s question, no, it wasn’t a pre-meditated execution, but you can explain a lot more by assuming incompetence and stupidity rather than malice.

  8. Seamus says:

    Actually, I think he really *was* an illegal immigrant, in the sense that he had overstayed his visa and was thus illegally in the country.
    Of course, saying that in defense of the police is a little like what George Tyrell said of the Jesuits, that when accused of the murder of three men and a dog, they would triumphantly produce the dog alive.
    And in answer to Craig S’s question, no, it wasn’t a pre-meditated execution, but you can explain a lot more by assuming incompetence and stupidity rather than malice.

  9. John H says:

    Seamus – that was what I meant by “irrelevant smear”. Mr de Menezes’ immigration status was raised solely as a means of bolstering a story that has now been shown to be pure propaganda: “He was an illegal immigrant and this is why he ran away when the police challenged him – except they didn’t, and he didn’t”.
    My inclination at the moment is to say that this was less than deliberate murder, but more than mere incompetence and stupidity. There seems a strong case for saying that it was gross negligence, which can (and should) lead to a prosecution for manslaughter.
    And I like your comment about the three men and a dog.

  10. John H says:

    Seamus – that was what I meant by “irrelevant smear”. Mr de Menezes’ immigration status was raised solely as a means of bolstering a story that has now been shown to be pure propaganda: “He was an illegal immigrant and this is why he ran away when the police challenged him – except they didn’t, and he didn’t”.
    My inclination at the moment is to say that this was less than deliberate murder, but more than mere incompetence and stupidity. There seems a strong case for saying that it was gross negligence, which can (and should) lead to a prosecution for manslaughter.
    And I like your comment about the three men and a dog.

  11. John H says:

    Seamus – that was what I meant by “irrelevant smear”. Mr de Menezes’ immigration status was raised solely as a means of bolstering a story that has now been shown to be pure propaganda: “He was an illegal immigrant and this is why he ran away when the police challenged him – except they didn’t, and he didn’t”.
    My inclination at the moment is to say that this was less than deliberate murder, but more than mere incompetence and stupidity. There seems a strong case for saying that it was gross negligence, which can (and should) lead to a prosecution for manslaughter.
    And I like your comment about the three men and a dog.

  12. John H says:

    Seamus – that was what I meant by “irrelevant smear”. Mr de Menezes’ immigration status was raised solely as a means of bolstering a story that has now been shown to be pure propaganda: “He was an illegal immigrant and this is why he ran away when the police challenged him – except they didn’t, and he didn’t”.
    My inclination at the moment is to say that this was less than deliberate murder, but more than mere incompetence and stupidity. There seems a strong case for saying that it was gross negligence, which can (and should) lead to a prosecution for manslaughter.
    And I like your comment about the three men and a dog.

  13. Atwood says:

    The police do some awful things, no doubt about it.
    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was. (Maybe I just didn’t hear about it.) Police shootings are always controversial in the US and raise community protests (although this case seems worse for police lying than any I’ve heard about in here; at least Rodney King, for example, really did have a record as long as your arm, really was high as a kite and really did lead the police in a high-speed chase before he got beaten.) I guess there aren’t many Brazilians in London, so they don’t have a lobby.
    Can the police be sued for wrongful death in England?

  14. Atwood says:

    The police do some awful things, no doubt about it.
    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was. (Maybe I just didn’t hear about it.) Police shootings are always controversial in the US and raise community protests (although this case seems worse for police lying than any I’ve heard about in here; at least Rodney King, for example, really did have a record as long as your arm, really was high as a kite and really did lead the police in a high-speed chase before he got beaten.) I guess there aren’t many Brazilians in London, so they don’t have a lobby.
    Can the police be sued for wrongful death in England?

  15. Atwood says:

    The police do some awful things, no doubt about it.
    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was. (Maybe I just didn’t hear about it.) Police shootings are always controversial in the US and raise community protests (although this case seems worse for police lying than any I’ve heard about in here; at least Rodney King, for example, really did have a record as long as your arm, really was high as a kite and really did lead the police in a high-speed chase before he got beaten.) I guess there aren’t many Brazilians in London, so they don’t have a lobby.
    Can the police be sued for wrongful death in England?

  16. Atwood says:

    The police do some awful things, no doubt about it.
    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was. (Maybe I just didn’t hear about it.) Police shootings are always controversial in the US and raise community protests (although this case seems worse for police lying than any I’ve heard about in here; at least Rodney King, for example, really did have a record as long as your arm, really was high as a kite and really did lead the police in a high-speed chase before he got beaten.) I guess there aren’t many Brazilians in London, so they don’t have a lobby.
    Can the police be sued for wrongful death in England?

  17. John H says:

    Chris: In answer to your last question, yes they can.
    The reason for the lack of outcry was probably the propaganda and spin that was used to manipulate the public response: first we were told a suicide bomber had been shot, which in the week after the bomb attacks was scarcely going to rouse the nation to fury.
    Then we were told the man was running away, had vaulted the ticket barrier, ghastly thing to happen, police acted in good faith, these things happen, etc. This got rather more negative comment, but still a lot of people took the view that, “Well, the police have a difficult job in the current circumstances, I suppose we should cut them some slack”. I didn’t take quite such a blasé attitude (see my previous post as linked from today’s post), but I was still a little ambivalent given the overall circumstances as they had been reported.
    Had what has come out today been revealed at the time, I think there would have been a huge stink about it. There still may be, but I think the passage of time – and the fact that Parliament is not currently sitting – means that the response will be more muted.

  18. John H says:

    Chris: In answer to your last question, yes they can.
    The reason for the lack of outcry was probably the propaganda and spin that was used to manipulate the public response: first we were told a suicide bomber had been shot, which in the week after the bomb attacks was scarcely going to rouse the nation to fury.
    Then we were told the man was running away, had vaulted the ticket barrier, ghastly thing to happen, police acted in good faith, these things happen, etc. This got rather more negative comment, but still a lot of people took the view that, “Well, the police have a difficult job in the current circumstances, I suppose we should cut them some slack”. I didn’t take quite such a blasé attitude (see my previous post as linked from today’s post), but I was still a little ambivalent given the overall circumstances as they had been reported.
    Had what has come out today been revealed at the time, I think there would have been a huge stink about it. There still may be, but I think the passage of time – and the fact that Parliament is not currently sitting – means that the response will be more muted.

  19. John H says:

    Chris: In answer to your last question, yes they can.
    The reason for the lack of outcry was probably the propaganda and spin that was used to manipulate the public response: first we were told a suicide bomber had been shot, which in the week after the bomb attacks was scarcely going to rouse the nation to fury.
    Then we were told the man was running away, had vaulted the ticket barrier, ghastly thing to happen, police acted in good faith, these things happen, etc. This got rather more negative comment, but still a lot of people took the view that, “Well, the police have a difficult job in the current circumstances, I suppose we should cut them some slack”. I didn’t take quite such a blasé attitude (see my previous post as linked from today’s post), but I was still a little ambivalent given the overall circumstances as they had been reported.
    Had what has come out today been revealed at the time, I think there would have been a huge stink about it. There still may be, but I think the passage of time – and the fact that Parliament is not currently sitting – means that the response will be more muted.

  20. John H says:

    Chris: In answer to your last question, yes they can.
    The reason for the lack of outcry was probably the propaganda and spin that was used to manipulate the public response: first we were told a suicide bomber had been shot, which in the week after the bomb attacks was scarcely going to rouse the nation to fury.
    Then we were told the man was running away, had vaulted the ticket barrier, ghastly thing to happen, police acted in good faith, these things happen, etc. This got rather more negative comment, but still a lot of people took the view that, “Well, the police have a difficult job in the current circumstances, I suppose we should cut them some slack”. I didn’t take quite such a blasé attitude (see my previous post as linked from today’s post), but I was still a little ambivalent given the overall circumstances as they had been reported.
    Had what has come out today been revealed at the time, I think there would have been a huge stink about it. There still may be, but I think the passage of time – and the fact that Parliament is not currently sitting – means that the response will be more muted.

  21. Rick Ritchie says:

    I thought it was pretty awful even as first reported. But now, it’s just that much worse.
    Just think back to what this says about the government reaction where it said that it cannot promise that something similar would not happen again. That was practically asking for a blank check. (There are no guarantees as to how incompetent we may be in pursuing the public safety. But isn’t safety worth it?)

  22. Rick Ritchie says:

    I thought it was pretty awful even as first reported. But now, it’s just that much worse.
    Just think back to what this says about the government reaction where it said that it cannot promise that something similar would not happen again. That was practically asking for a blank check. (There are no guarantees as to how incompetent we may be in pursuing the public safety. But isn’t safety worth it?)

  23. Rick Ritchie says:

    I thought it was pretty awful even as first reported. But now, it’s just that much worse.
    Just think back to what this says about the government reaction where it said that it cannot promise that something similar would not happen again. That was practically asking for a blank check. (There are no guarantees as to how incompetent we may be in pursuing the public safety. But isn’t safety worth it?)

  24. Rick Ritchie says:

    I thought it was pretty awful even as first reported. But now, it’s just that much worse.
    Just think back to what this says about the government reaction where it said that it cannot promise that something similar would not happen again. That was practically asking for a blank check. (There are no guarantees as to how incompetent we may be in pursuing the public safety. But isn’t safety worth it?)

  25. Larry says:

    The whole thing is bizarre and deeply troubling. One very much wants to support the police in times like these, but a full accounting of what happened must be made.
    I would still expect and hope that the great majority of the Metropolitan Police are honorable and dedicated people, as appalled by this event as are the public.

  26. Larry says:

    The whole thing is bizarre and deeply troubling. One very much wants to support the police in times like these, but a full accounting of what happened must be made.
    I would still expect and hope that the great majority of the Metropolitan Police are honorable and dedicated people, as appalled by this event as are the public.

  27. Larry says:

    The whole thing is bizarre and deeply troubling. One very much wants to support the police in times like these, but a full accounting of what happened must be made.
    I would still expect and hope that the great majority of the Metropolitan Police are honorable and dedicated people, as appalled by this event as are the public.

  28. Larry says:

    The whole thing is bizarre and deeply troubling. One very much wants to support the police in times like these, but a full accounting of what happened must be made.
    I would still expect and hope that the great majority of the Metropolitan Police are honorable and dedicated people, as appalled by this event as are the public.

  29. Craig says:

    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was.
    It was because of the timing and spin. Coming just after the bombings people found it oddly re-assuring – the police were not going to “mess around” any more.
    There was also some racism I’m afraid – initial reports were that the man was arab, then that he was asian…

  30. Craig says:

    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was.
    It was because of the timing and spin. Coming just after the bombings people found it oddly re-assuring – the police were not going to “mess around” any more.
    There was also some racism I’m afraid – initial reports were that the man was arab, then that he was asian…

  31. Craig says:

    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was.
    It was because of the timing and spin. Coming just after the bombings people found it oddly re-assuring – the police were not going to “mess around” any more.
    There was also some racism I’m afraid – initial reports were that the man was arab, then that he was asian…

  32. Craig says:

    What really surprised me about this was how little reaction from “the community” there was.
    It was because of the timing and spin. Coming just after the bombings people found it oddly re-assuring – the police were not going to “mess around” any more.
    There was also some racism I’m afraid – initial reports were that the man was arab, then that he was asian…

  33. Wow. I remembered when the story first came out, that whole “he ran away” thing just struck me as so odd, why would he run? And I registered my protests over racism back then, but without knowing that the “he ran away” part of the official release was just fabrication.
    I live in southern Texas. We’re well used to the fact that a vast number of olive-skinned people are not actually Muslims. Meanwhile, even if the guy had been a Muslim, if he hadn’t had any weapons or explosives on him then there should not have been any shots fired by the police; Muslims have to get to work too. Followers of Christ may meet our enemies in battle when we must but we don’t kill them in cold blood, which is simply evil.

  34. Wow. I remembered when the story first came out, that whole “he ran away” thing just struck me as so odd, why would he run? And I registered my protests over racism back then, but without knowing that the “he ran away” part of the official release was just fabrication.
    I live in southern Texas. We’re well used to the fact that a vast number of olive-skinned people are not actually Muslims. Meanwhile, even if the guy had been a Muslim, if he hadn’t had any weapons or explosives on him then there should not have been any shots fired by the police; Muslims have to get to work too. Followers of Christ may meet our enemies in battle when we must but we don’t kill them in cold blood, which is simply evil.

  35. Wow. I remembered when the story first came out, that whole “he ran away” thing just struck me as so odd, why would he run? And I registered my protests over racism back then, but without knowing that the “he ran away” part of the official release was just fabrication.
    I live in southern Texas. We’re well used to the fact that a vast number of olive-skinned people are not actually Muslims. Meanwhile, even if the guy had been a Muslim, if he hadn’t had any weapons or explosives on him then there should not have been any shots fired by the police; Muslims have to get to work too. Followers of Christ may meet our enemies in battle when we must but we don’t kill them in cold blood, which is simply evil.

  36. Wow. I remembered when the story first came out, that whole “he ran away” thing just struck me as so odd, why would he run? And I registered my protests over racism back then, but without knowing that the “he ran away” part of the official release was just fabrication.
    I live in southern Texas. We’re well used to the fact that a vast number of olive-skinned people are not actually Muslims. Meanwhile, even if the guy had been a Muslim, if he hadn’t had any weapons or explosives on him then there should not have been any shots fired by the police; Muslims have to get to work too. Followers of Christ may meet our enemies in battle when we must but we don’t kill them in cold blood, which is simply evil.

  37. safiyyah says:

    I was surprised that the wider British community wasn’t up in arms over this. It’s very sad that the police did this, but they made it even worse by trying to cover up their wrongdoing.

  38. safiyyah says:

    I was surprised that the wider British community wasn’t up in arms over this. It’s very sad that the police did this, but they made it even worse by trying to cover up their wrongdoing.

  39. safiyyah says:

    I was surprised that the wider British community wasn’t up in arms over this. It’s very sad that the police did this, but they made it even worse by trying to cover up their wrongdoing.

  40. safiyyah says:

    I was surprised that the wider British community wasn’t up in arms over this. It’s very sad that the police did this, but they made it even worse by trying to cover up their wrongdoing.

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