What's in a Coat?


Yesterday a New York Times op-ed piece explained that, while pumping eight rounds into the head and shoulder of an innocent man in the London subway was "horrible," it was also "the right thing" for police to do under the circumstances. "The police saw a man wearing a long coat out of place on a hot summer day jumping over a turnstile and running for a crowded subway train," wrote Haim Watzman, author of Company C: An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel.

Also yesterday, relatives of that innocent man, 27-year-old Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, denied that he was wearing a long coat (it was a denim jacket, they said) and questioned reports that he jumped the turnstile. Right after the July 22 shooting, at least one witness said Menezes was wearing a "bulky" (as opposed to long) coat of the sort that might conceal explosives. I guess it could have been long and bulky. Unless it was a denim jacket. Surely this is one detail that can be definitively nailed down by the official inquiry, assuming the coat or jacket wasn't removed and discarded after the shooting.

Menezes' family also continues to insist, contrary to the government's claim that his visa had expired, that he was in the U.K. legally, which would make his retreat from the police (confirmed by several witnesses) harder to understand. But since the police who surrounded him were in plain clothes, maybe he didn't realize they were cops. Even if they shouted "Stop! Police!" as he ran away (another detail I have not seen definitively addressed), he might not have believed them. Or maybe he was just worried they might shoot him in the head.