Socialist Worker

Jean Charles de Menezes: officers escape tube shooting charges

by Joseph Choonara
Issue No. 2010

The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27 year old Brazilian shot by police in south London last July, is merely a “health and safety” issue. No police officers are to face charges for murder or manslaughter.

That is the shocking verdict of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) this week.

Alex Pereira, Jean’s cousin, told a press conference on Monday of this week, “It is unbelievable what they have said today. We had to wait a year. They shot at someone 11 times and said it was a mistake.”

He added, “They knew they were assassinating someone.”

The CPS considered a report into Jean’s death by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The CPS concluded “there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any individual police officer”.

The CPS’s statement continued that there was only enough evidence to prosecute the office of Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

In an insult to the family, the CPS said the police may have failed “to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes on 22 July 2005”.

Any such health and safety prosecution would probably not begin until next year.

Jean was wrongly identified as a suicide bomber by police. He was followed from his house, allowed to board a bus and then enter Stockwell tube station without being challenged.

While on board a tube, according to witnesses, he was held with his arms pinned to his sides by an officer as bullets were unloaded into his head and shoulder.

Patricia da Silva Armani, another of Jean’s cousins, said at the press conference, “These people in power - they wanted to cover up the blame. By using these laws to cover up their mistake they are treating my cousin like a dead animal.”

Not only did the family suffer the loss of a loved one, they suffered a campaign of media smears and lies. A second IPCC investigation into the conduct of Ian Blair and statements made by senior police is ongoing.

While malicious lies about Jean were appearing in the press, Ian Blair was busy attempting to block the IPCC’s inquiry into the shooting. Within hours of Jean’s death he had written to the home office to call for an internal investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police.

IPCC investigators only gained access to the scene of the shooting three days after it took place. The family have still not seen the full evidence surrounding the shooting.

But, according to the family’s lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, there are “important inconsistencies in evidence”. She added, “It is not a health and safety issue. It was not food poisoning. We will be looking at all avenues to pursue this case - including a private prosecution against individual police officers.”

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