Sunday, August 14, 2005
This, to put it as diplomatically as we can, reeks:
[A]n Observer investigation has raised fresh questions about the death of [Jean Charles] de Menezes, whose killing is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Observer has discovered that a key element of the investigation will be scrutiny of a delay in calling an armed team to arrest de Menezes, which meant he had already entered the station by the time the officers arrived.
That delay was crucial. If the police thought de Menezes was dangerous - perhaps a bomber - the fact that he was already in the station would have heightened tension and increased the chances of something going wrong.
Evidence of this hold-up should have been provided by CCTV footage from dozens of cameras covering the Stockwell ticket hall, escalators, platforms and train carriages.
However, police now say most of the cameras were not working. Yet pictures are available of a bombing suspect leaving another station nearby, and after the 7 July attacks tube boses could have been expected to make extra efforts to see that all their cameras were in action.
The questions are mounting. Initial claims that de Menezes was targeted because he was wearing a bulky coat, refused to stop when challenged and then vaulted the ticket barriers have all turned out to be false. He was wearing a denim jacket, used a standard Oyster electronic card to get into the station and simply walked towards the platform unchallenged.
It has also been suggested that officers did not identify themselves properly before shooting de Menezes seven times in the head . . . .
If he was such a potential danger to the public why was de Menezes allowed to enter Stockwell tube station?
Police have already admitted that the officers who followed de Menezes from his home in Tulse Hill were not the same officers who fired the fatal shots. The surveillance team was unarmed and had to call in an armed unit to arrest de Menezes. The delay meant that de Menezes was already inside the tube station when the armed officers arrived. Should they not have been called earlier and attempted to apprehend him outside the station?
Did commanding officers give the order to shoot or was the decision taken 'on the ground'?
Although individual officers are allowed to use their weapons in order to protect their own lives or those of others, permission to deploy arms is usually obtained in advance. When de Menezes went underground the armed officers would have been out of radio contact with their superiors. It has since been reported that the first their commander knew of the shooting was a radio message declaring 'man down'. Why did the police radios not work in the station when British Transport Police are able to communicate underground? Did the lack of communication add to the tension?
Why is there no CCTV footage?
Cameras at Stockwell tube should have provided footage of the ticket halls, the escalators and the platforms. Most modern tube carriages also have cameras inside. Yet police say none of the cameras at Stockwell was working at the time of the shooting. This is despite London being on high alert and tube bosses being only too well aware of the importance of maintaining CCTV systems.