Monday, July 25, 2005

We come in peace and shoot to kill

So it seems that the man shot in London on Friday on suspicion of being yet another suicide bomber was innocent, if not exactly acting that way: London — London's police commissioner expressed regret Sunday for the slaying of a Brazilian electrician by officers who mistook him for a suspect in the recent terror bombings, but he defended a police shoot-to-kill policy as "the only way" to stop would-be suicide bombers. [...] The man shot Friday at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him five times in the head and torso in front of horrified passengers. Mr. Blair initially said Mr. Menezes was "directly linked" to the investigation of Thursday's attacks, but police then said Saturday he had no connection to the bomb attempts. It's a shame, yes - but that doesn't invalidate the actions of the police. They certainly had reasonable justification to shoot: When Mr. Menezes began to enter the station, witnesses said, he was surrounded by plainclothes officers who shouted at him to stop. According to the police accounts, the officers identified themselves and were suspicious partly because he was wearing a bulky jacket in the summer weather, suggesting that he was concealing something. Mr. Menezes ran. He jumped over the turnstile, ran down an escalator and stumbled into a train, where he fell face down. Witnesses said the police then shot him five times in the head and neck, killing him. If was ever to be in the situation where armed police were shouting at me to surrender, and I was, in fact, completely innocent of anything they might suppose of me, I think that jumping a turnstile and running would logically be the best way to get killed. It's unfortunate that Mr. Menezes considered this a sound course of action, a day after a second abortive bombing attempt, when he had to have known that police would still be on edge and suspicious of bizarre activity on anyone's part, but that's what happened. Thankfully, it's not causing either the British government or police services to be thrown into fits of self-doubt or recrimination, as some might wish: "This is a tragedy," [Tony Blair] said Sunday of the shooting. "The Metropolitan Police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets." He also defended the shoot-to-kill policy, saying such action only applied when lives were believed to be at risk. "I am very aware that minority communities are talking about a shoot-to-kill policy," he said. "It's only a shoot-to-kill-in-order-to-protect policy." Mr. Blair said British police have drawn from the experiences of other countries, including Sri Lanka, that have dealt with suicide attackers. "The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head," Mr. Blair said. "There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be." Let Red Ken Livingstone bow and scrape to those to would slaughter all Britons in a heartbeat, had they the opportunity; the right people are actually in charge of those offices more significant than the Mayor of London's.

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