Slain Brazilian’s family slams UK police

A report issued by the London Metropolitan Police boasting their shoot-to-kill policy as the best in the world has shocked the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, who was killed by an undercover unit in late July.

Jean Charles de Menezes was hit by a total of eight bullets

The report, titled Suicide Terrorism, revealed the existence of Operation Kratos, a shoot-to-kill policy which had been developed in secret since the 7 July bombings in London which killed 52 people.


Presented to the Metropolitan Police Authority on 27 October, the report stated: “Globally there is no agency with a more carefully researched and proportionate policy.”

The report continued: “Any tactics deployed have to involve officers acting covertly to retain the element of surprise.


“Also, the tactics had to ensure immediate incapacitation to eradicate any opportunity for the bomber to cause the [explosive] device to function.


“It should be noted that there is no legal requirement for an officer to give a verbal challenge before firing.”


But for the family of Brazilian worker Jean Charles de Menezes who was shot and killed by undercover police in London on 22 July, the report adds insult to injury.


“No one knew there was a shoot-to-kill policy. You don’t kill suspects. The Brazilian nation is a nation of peace,” De Menezes’ brother, Giovanni, said upon the de Menezes family’s return from an emotionally draining two-week visit to London. 


“We want justice and will do everything for justice.”


The family had been hoping to find answers to their son’s killing but returned home empty-handed.


Mistaken identity


De Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian electrician, was shot dead by police on an underground train in London after he had been mistakenly identified as Ethiopian-born Hussain Osman, a suspected bomber, because of what the authorities referred to as his “Mongolian eyes”.

Jean Charles had been mistakenfor an Ethiopian bomber
Jean Charles had been mistakenfor an Ethiopian bomber

Jean Charles had been mistaken
for an Ethiopian bomber

De Menezes was on his way to work when he was followed by an undercover surveillance team.


As he boarded an underground train at the Stockwell station in London, plain-clothes officers confronted him but made no motion to arrest him.


Within a 30-second blitz of gunfire which shocked other passengers, de Menezes had been shot in the head seven times and once in the shoulder. Three bullets missed him.


Such use of lethal force is defended by the police review.


The report says: “HM Government scientists state that the use of baton guns, Taser, or firearms that impact on this [explosive] material will cause it to detonate.


“These materials are so sensitive that the heat from a camera flash bulb or torch bulb will cause them to detonate.


“Therefore, tactics have to be available that will not impact on the explosive.”

In addition, the policy has been expanded “to cover a great range of operation circumstances” including domestic violence, stalking and kidnap, according to the author of the review, Steve House, Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police.

De Menezes investigation


The review was made public as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) continued its investigation into the shooting of De Menezes.


Three investigators dispatched by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice to look into the legal procedures following the case said they found “questionable behaviour” in the Metropolitan police’s conduct but otherwise retained a diplomatic stance.


The bereaved parents, Maria Otone de Menezes and Matozinhos de Menezes and Jean’s brother Giovanni da Silva met with investigators during their fortnight stay in the capital in September.

However, they refused to meet with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair who they called on to resign.


The commissioner attempted to block an independent investigation into the shooting in a letter to the Home Office’s most senior civil servant, written just two hours after the killing.


He claims to have not known De Menezes was not a suspected bomber for 24 hours.

Retracing final steps


“In my opinion, the chief of police is very wrong. A human being needs to be respected and treated as a citizen in any country in the world,” Maria Otone de Menezes told


“Only God knows the pain I am feeling. He [Sir Ian Blair] should be arrested.”


Jean Charles' mother (C) says only God knows her pain
Jean Charles’ mother (C) says only God knows her pain

Jean Charles’ mother (C) says
only God knows her pain

In an effort to determine what happened, the family retraced Jean Charles’ final steps as he left his flat in Tulse Hill, south London, and took a bus to Stockwell underground station.


There, he descended on to the platform and sat in the train carriage before police shot him dead.

“We were told that CCTV [closed-circuit television] tapes given to the police were not working. The police are lying. They emptied the tapes. We are very upset about that lie. Inside Stockwell station, we saw more than nine cameras,” said Giovanni de Menezes.

Jean Charles’ cousin, Patricia da Silva Armani, says the family is only seeking justice and an explanation of how the police could have made such a fatal mistake.


“We are convinced that the police are withholding many things. I think it is absurd. I don’t accept that the cameras were not working,” Da Silva Armani says.

I don’t think that they are being honest with us.”

Civil rights campaign

The family, together with lawyers and civil rights activists, officially launched the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign at the London School of Economics on 13 October.

Their campaign has received much support and backing from families of other victims alleged to have been wrongfully killed by police.

Gareth Peirce of law firm Birnberg Peirce and Partners, who are representing the De Menezes family, said: “If you examine the statistics of how many police who have killed members of the public have ever been prosecuted to a conviction, the statistics would show that it is an almost invisible number.”

But Peirce, a civil rights solicitor, held out hope someone in the police force could come forward with information.

“Police appear to be speaking to the press about each other and therefore there may be a situation where what has been said that is not correct is exposed by fellow officers.

“We await with interest to see if this is a different process than many others that have disappointed many bereaved families in the past,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera