The Met are on trial for breaching Health and Saftey legislation, when they shot the innocent Jean Charles de Menezes seven times in the head. The phrase “no shit, Sherlock” comes to mind, although it is surely inappropriate for a case where the detectives were, without question, shit.
Here’s Cressida Dick’s rather pathetic testimony on her role in the shooting:
“Secondly, from the behaviours that had been described to me – given that I thought they thought it was him – it could, very, very well be him.
“The behaviours that were described – the nervousness, agitation, the sending of messages, the telephone, getting on and off the bus – added to the picture of someone potentially intent on causing an explosion.”
This is shocking, not least because the actions described by DAC Dick, those that persuaded her that Mr de Menezes should be “stopped,” are precisely those actions I indulge in every day. A “nervous, agitated man sending messages” is exactly what I look like on pretty much every morning on the way to work. And who, in their lives, has not had a senile moment of indecision at a bus stop?
More seriously, the entire affair is shocking because of the low burden of proof that was required for the state to take someone’s life. The fault lies not with the officers who carried out the shooting, but with the decision to put such an ill-advised “shoot to kill” policy into the field at all. Who made that decision, how, and when? Only when this question is answered, and that person brought to account, can we begin to explain an attone for this terrible, avoidable death. And until this happens, every one of us in this democracy remains collectively responsible.
We should stop worrying about what kind of bullets were used in the incident, and focus on who was putting out misinformation in the immeidate wake of the killing, and subsequently. That line of enquiry might lead us to the person who had made a decision that they did not want to take responsibility for.