Maybe It Was Self Defense Against an Angry Glare?

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Yesterday, Matt Welch reported on news that Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazillian shot by British police last month, had not (contra initial claims) fled police, worn a bulky jacket, or jumped a ticket barrier in the Underground. Now, commenter Phil points to this story, which if accurate is pretty damning:

But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortable for Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electrician had already been restrained by a surveillance officer before being shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

The documents reveal that a member of the surveillance team, who sat nearby, grabbed Mr de Menezes before he was shot: "I heard shouting which included the word 'police' and turned to face the male in the denim jacket.

"He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] officers … I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting … I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage."

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  1. So evidently Josh Gibson lives in a world where guys who walk into train stations, pick up a paper, and run for a train they’re late for get six slugs to the head and that’s just peachy. Right?

    Someday we’ll figure out that overreaction by police is one of the biggest weapons that the terrorists wield.

  2. “So evidently Josh Gibson lives in a world . . . .”

    I’m sorry, but who?

  3. I expect Jeff Fecke is referring to John Gibson, the dude from Fox news who apparently lives in a wind tunnel. A couple of points regarding his peachy-ness; 1) this wasnt a single white female killed on spring break. 2) when you cant shoot immigrant blue collar workers without warning, the terrorists will have won.

  4. I initially supported the police, or at least found their actions to be a tragic but understandable mistake.

    Now that it has become apparent that the version of events the police initially made public was a tissue of lies, I have to withdraw that support.

    The other issue here is that, now that the British police have shredded their own credibility, the next time they have to take action against a legitimate threat, no one will believe them.

  5. But, as Joe might say, when a city experiences a couple of terrorist bombings in the same month, then it’s safe to assume that it is now a warzone not unlike Tel Aviv, and civil liberties (including the right to not be shot in the head for looking suspicious) can be suspended. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and if shooting innocent people in the head 8 times is the price we have to pay for perceived safety, then so be it.

    [/joe-sarcasm]

  6. now that the British police have shredded their own credibility, the next time they have to take action against a legitimate threat, no one will believe them.

    And nobody should believe them. Sometimes, when people are scared, they give the police/military/government the benefit of the doubt, and they abandon that healthy skepticism that should always be present. So, if this episode jolts people back to that healthy skepticism, then maybe it has a silver lining after all.

  7. I intially took a wait an see position. Well, we’ve seen. The armed response team went into the Tube to execute that guy, then lied about it.

    I’m glad this is a source of amusement for you, Evan. If you can’t call people who disagree with you apoligists for the murder-state, then the terrorists will have won.

  8. Why aren’t there a bunch of accounts in the media from civilian witnesses of the shooting? Am I missing something here?

  9. whoops.

    they shoulda sent in the PFJ crack suicide squad instead. It would have been just as effective.

  10. Ben-

    Would you want to testify against those cops after they executed an innocent guy in cold blood? I’d sooner go to a rural part of Northern Ireland with a big British flag. The result would be about the same either way, but the Irish would provide a better last meal.

  11. I’ve seen statements from civilians in the press. For example, a guy in the entrance was the source of the “jumped over the turnstiles” report, but it turns out it was one of the plain clothes cops, not the victim, he saw jumping the turnstiles.

  12. England does not have the death penalty but beware riding the trains.

  13. “Would you want to testify against those cops after they executed an innocent guy in cold blood?”

    These are leaks from an – as yet incomplete – independent investigation. There’s really no evidence that the authorities are going around taking out witnesses.

    “I’d sooner go to a rural part of Northern Ireland with a big British flag. The result would be about the same either way, but the Irish would provide a better last meal.”

    Er. Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

  14. Er. Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

    Not really. Mostly just trying to be dramatic.

  15. The cops lied, the videotapes of the event mysteriously disappeared–I see no reason to trust ANYTHING those bastards have to say from here on out. But I’m curious about those who initially said “Well, let’s give these brave police officers charged with protecting the public the benefit of the doubt.” Will they say the same thing NEXT time the cops shoot someone they claim was dangerous? Or is this just some weird fluke that will certainly never, ever happen again?

  16. I suppose that depends on 1) who you’re talking about and 2) what you mean by “the benefit of the doubt.”

    I didn’t immediately join the “let’s charge the cops with murder” brigade before the body was even cold, but I wanted an inquest to find out what happened.

  17. If you did, joe, this is the first time you’ve ever mentioned it. Aside from noting that there were various “unknowns” and “variables,” you spent many keystrokes defending the decision-making skills of the British cops.

  18. “Will they say the same thing NEXT time the cops shoot someone they claim was dangerous?”

    I will. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt until there is evidence against them, which includes both the victim and the perpetrator.

    When I initially read that the London cops had shot a “terrorist”, I did not jump to the conclusion that he really was a terrorist (having seen so many instances where alleged terrorists turned out to be nothing of the kind). Likewise, when it turned out that he was not a terrorist, I did not jump to the conclusion that the cops had acted in a stupendously, criminally irresponsible manner.

    Kind of the same way that when a patient dies in surgery, I don’t assume that the surgeon was guilty of malpractice unless there is evidence to show it. Regardless of how many times surgeons are actually guilty of malpractice.

  19. I’m sure it looked that way to you, Phil.

  20. OK, volunteers to backtrack to the threads from three weeks ago, sign up here…

  21. You know joe, you sound an aweful lot like Krauthammer when you go on about how the rights of the individual fluctuate depending on the situation. It kinda drives home the point how similar the left and the right are when viewed from a libertarian perspective.

  22. You know, metalgrid, your insistence that the proper action of the government remains exactly the same regardless of what is actually happening outside kinda drives home the point that libertarians are more interested in their formulaic models than in actually addressing real world problems.

  23. I was one of the people who defended the cops’ decision-making, but I did so on the basis of information that had been released that has now been revealed to be false.

    If the victim here had, in fact, been wearing a large and bulky winter jacket, and had, in fact, run from the police and jumped a turnstile and then run towards a train, I would STILL say, “Let’s give these brave police officers charged with protecting the public the benefit of the doubt.”

    It is the fact that all of these claims seem now to be disproven that leads me to change my mind.

  24. By all means, crimethink.

    Though you didn’t seem to have any trouble mischaracterizing what I was saying the first time, so I’m not hopeful you’ll get it right the second time around.

  25. What fluffy said.

  26. joe-

    I subscribe to the quaint notion that no matter how screwed up things are, deadly force should be a last resort applied under only the most stringent criteria.

    If you had simply said that you were withholding judgement until more facts were available, that’s fair enough. But you said that the cops should be cut some slack given what was going on at the time. That’s different from cutting slack until you get more info.

    Will people be more jumpy when there’s a threat of bombings? Absolutely. Stressful situations are precisely the reason why authority figures should be subject to stringent discipline and training: To compensate for stress. Nothing can eliminate fear, but we expect the professionals to do their best to put that aside and exercise sound judgement in trying situations. That may sound “unfair” but (1) well, authority carries with it certain burdens and (2) the more dire the situation, the more crucial it is that somebody maintain a level head.

  27. OK, joe, which of these comments is the one questioning the police’s decision-making and calling for an inquest?

    1. If the government wants to have the level of cooperation it needs for anti-terror security measures, and wants to avoid dangerous incidents, it’s going to have to pass on prosecuting visa violations, drug possession, and other non-dangerous crimes discovered in such stops and searches, and make sure the public knows that policy.

    Otherwise, people are going to run away, assault the police, endanger others, and get shot in the head.

    It’s one or the other, and they have to choose.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 11:10 AM

    2. I just want to say, there are a lot of unknowns and variables going on here, and the threads about the incident on this site have contended with them admirably.

    Other sites I’ve seen, left and right, have treated this situation as if the right answer is obvious, and anybody who doesn’t immediately rally to the ‘right’ answer as an idiot. I think we’ve done a good job not getting out ahead of ourselves.

    I have to go put my arm in a cast now. 😉

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 11:37 AM

    3. “In the Menezes case, the cops never had anything close to probable cause. At most, they had reasonable suspicion.”

    I’m not so sure – the circumstances (an ongoing campaign of subway bombings, a fleeing suspect in a subway station, add in certain details about his hands and what he was wearing) could change the standard that allows force, increase the level of confidence the police reasonably had that there was imminent danger, or both.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 12:03 PM

    4. There’s “subdued” and “held down” are not the same thing. Especially when you need only press a button in your pocket to kill everyone within fifty feet.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 01:12 PM

    5. “joe is right on target…” That’s a really unfortunate choice of words.

    “How did the police know he didn’t have a dead switch, and if his finger left the trigger, say after he was shot, it would explode the bomb?”

    They didn’t know, Mr. Oliver. They were playing the percentages.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 01:58 PM

    6. quasibill,

    “Further, the only way someone “forces” you to do something is when they hold a gun (or similar) to your head.”

    Are residents of NYC perfectly free to avoid being searched by the police, because their necessity to take the subway is the consequence of the building and transportation system, rather than having guns to their heads?

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 02:25 PM

    7. Hakluyt,

    “If cops kill somone, especially an unarmed man who they admit had no criminal intent, etc., the default position is that cops acted wrongly.”

    I think it would be better to say, “the default position is that something is wrong,” rather than to assume the problem was with the cops on the scene. Especially in this case, when, yes goddammit, the police in the London subway need to be prepared to use deadly force to stop someone who looks just like a normal subway rider from slaughtering a dozen or more people.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 02:54 PM

    8. Seamus, “My defense of the police? Except for that one post, I’ve been riding them hard all day. Gimme a fucking break.”

    I feel your pain.

    I’m an apologist for the Stalist Murder State.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 09:18 PM

    9. Hack,

    I could bother to look up and discuss the details of the thread you seem to remember, but I don’t think that’s the point. joe+something half remembered about Cold War politics = apologist for Stalin, whatever the actual conversation was. As I half-remember it, that was pretty much your position on the thread, too.

    joshua, the most innovative IT companies and the most important financial companies choose to be in major cities, regardless of technological advance, because you can’t use technology to replicate face time and being in the middle of things.

    Comment by: joe at July 31, 2005 10:51 PM

    English is only my first language, so I might need some help seeing it.

  28. OK, I can’t find any threads related to Menezez on the day of his death (7/22). Strange thing is, there’s a thread that day about NYC subway searches, and a couple of people make reference to the London subway shooting, but the thread itself seems to have disappeared…

  29. thoreau,

    I don’t think the criteria were wrong. The facts were wrong. If the police have reason to believe someone is about to set off a bomb in a subway, they should kill him. That criteria is just fine. The problem here was, they didn’t have reason to believe that. There was a huge screw-up in doctrine and communication that led them to believe they had a “ticking bomb” scenario when they didn’t.

    “But you said that the cops should be cut some slack given what was going on at the time.” And given the facts, as they were first reported. That’s a pretty significant factor to leave out, thoreau.

    The cops didn’t go off half-cocked. They weren’t ‘jumpy.’ They seem, instead, to have been deliberate and professional. You’re diagnosing the wrong problem with this line of thought.

  30. crimethink,

    #2, where I disuss the unknowns and variables.

    #3, where I say “I’m not so sure”

    #7, where I say that something went wrong

    #8, where I refer to other posts criticizing the police

    The others don’t really address the issue one way or the other.

  31. But thanks for demonstrating the “you’re either with us or against us” mentality so well, Phil.

    You see, by saying I didn’t know where the mistake had been made, I was saying that everything was done right. By saying it may well have been appopriate to respond that one in one set of circumstances, I was saying that the police should make this standard procedure for all of their operations.

    Sharp as a bowling ball, aren’t you? I’m sure your EFL tutor can help you with that idiom.

  32. My name is Phil, not crimethink.

    None of those posts questions the police’s decision-making, nor calls for an inquest. Not one:

    #2 merely notes that there are “unknowns and variables,” which I suppose could encompass the police’s decision making, but certainly is not explicit. No call for an inquest.

    #3, the thing you’re “not so sure” about is whether “reasonable suspicion” rises to the same rules of engagement as “probably cause.” This is as close as you ever get to questioning the police’s decision-making. No call for an inquest.

    #7 you explicitly disavow that the problem could be the police’s decision-making: “I think it would be better to say, “the default position is that something is wrong,” rather than to assume the problem was with the cops on the scene. No call for an inquest.

    #8 you feel Seamus’ pain not because you have been riding the police hard, but because Hakluyt has called you an apologist for blah blah blah. No call for an inquest.

    Try again.

    If the police have reason to believe someone is about to set off a bomb in a subway, they should kill him. That criteria is just fine.

    I sure hope he doesn’t have any useful, actionable intelligence that might make it worthwhile to subdue him. In any case, assuming terrorists are able to adapt, they’ll all simply use dead-man’s switches now.


  33. Comment by: joe at August 17, 2005 12:04 PM

    Actually joe, it’s the libertarian mentality to see actual rights as a zero sum game. If government is in the business of doling them out and rolling them back as it sees fit according to situation, then rights aren’t exactly inalienable or natural to man and as a result, aren’t rights but priviledges. Much along the lines of having the priviledge to not be 3/5ths of a full person.

  34. You know, I would think that claiming that you wanted an inquest would result in an easily-locatable sentence of the approximate form, “I think there should be an inquest to determine what happened.”

    Or, you know, you could just respond like an immature, oversensitive shithead.

  35. So the argument, PHIL, is that I didn’t actually use the word “inquest” in the exact posts you pulled, nor did I follow up statements like “there are a lot of unanswered questions” with “…that need to be answered.”

    Wow, I guess you got me there.

  36. joe,

    That’s not the thread I’m talking about. In the thread he linked to, everyone knows which side you’re on. In the original thread, we were all shocked.

    Though this exchange shows that you were still defending the cops even after their story was shown to be false….

    “In the Menezes case, the cops never had anything close to probable cause. At most, they had reasonable suspicion.”

    I’m not so sure – the circumstances (an ongoing campaign of subway bombings, a fleeing suspect in a subway station, add in certain details about his hands and what he was wearing) could change the standard that allows force, increase the level of confidence the police reasonably had that there was imminent danger, or both.

    Comment by: joe at July 29, 2005 12:03 PM

    But apparently the cops’ story was full of holes–he was NOT wearing a heavy coat. and they did not shoot him as he was running–they shot him AFTER they’d subdued him and he was on the ground.

    Why don’t they just release the film, already? What is it they so do not want the world to see?

    Comment by: Jennifer at July 29, 2005 12:06 PM

    —–

  37. deliberate and professional

    I don’t know joe. I’m having a hard time with the idea of a crack surveillance team. If the “bomb is ticking”, why head to the loo?

  38. crimethink,

    “Though this exchange shows that you were still defending the cops even after their story was shown to be false….” No, it doesn’t. I wasn’t defending the cops’ behavior given the emerging facts, but the appropriateness of that behavior, given the facts as they were first presented.

    “the circumstances (an ongoing campaign of subway bombings, a fleeing suspect in a subway station, add in certain details about his hands and what he was wearing) could change the standard that allows force, increase the level of confidence the police reasonably had that there was imminent danger, or both.”

    Get it? “The circumstances could…” I set up a number of givens (some of which have turned out to be false) that would, if true, make the cops’ behavior justifiable. I still say that, in a case that approximates the story as it was first reported, the cops behavior is defensible, or at least not immediately to be condemned based on those facts.

  39. You didn’t use the word “inquest” anywhere at all in any of the related threads, JOE*; and extrapolating from your attitude as expressed in the various NYC subway search threads, and what you actually said about the police’s actions, I took it that you were completely satisfied with the London shooting. Nothing you said indicated otherwise, and you certainly never claimed to be “reserving judgement” or what have you. If you aren’t, it’s your job to say so, not everyone else’s job to read your mind. Although requiring the latter certainly provides you a lot of cover when you turn out to be, you know, wrong.

    *It isn’t a hard task to look at the name of the person on the post, joe. And it’s rather immature to respond so churlishly when you get one wrong.

  40. Happy Jack,

    Two sets of cops here – the ones who were staking out the apartment building (who do have to go to the loo every once in a while), and the armed response team.

    I was referring to the armed response team – they didn’t shoot this guy because they panicked, or because they were under stress. They shot him because that’s what they were sent to do.

  41. “I took it that you were completely satisfied with the London shooting.” Yes, this sort of thing happens a lot. One of the risks of taking the minority position on a thread – people eager to read your position as the opposite of their own.

    “Nothing you said indicated otherwise” Now that’s just indefensible wrong. The quotes you pull show otherwise.

  42. joe, fair enough. But if I were to speculate, that’s where the breakdown occurred (surveillance/apprehension).

    That’s why I’m having a problem. At the crucial moment, the guy can’t hold it? After the jacket, turnstile jumping, etc., the truth from the police is somewhat elusive.

  43. Jack, there may well have been a breakdown there.

    But the fact that killing the guy was, apparently, the armed team’s first reaction, even though the subject was not a known “ticking bomb,” not even a terror suspect, but merely maybe a terror suspect, seems like a much bigger problem.

  44. joe,

    I wasn’t defending the cops’ behavior given the emerging facts, but the appropriateness of that behavior, given the facts as they were first presented.

    … the ‘facts as they were first presented’ were already known to be false when you wrote that post. Why did you base your argument on false statements?

  45. So is this thread now officially a Mock Trial of joe for perjury, or is anyone actually interested in discussing the issue at hand?

  46. Of course, the point that’s going to be missed here is that if the stakeout cops had had guns, they could have apprehended the suspect before he got anywhere near the subway.

    Britain’s much-venerated tradition of unarmed cops got this guy killed.

  47. Biff,

    We cannot let joe escape this time. I won’t let him sit there, with his smug sense of superiority, at his Macintosh, stroking his goatee, and chuckling as he digs in to a carton of Ben & Jerry’s.

    Well, that’s how I’ve always imagined him at least…

  48. crimethink,

    The sentence you’re zooming in on begins with the words “the circumstances could.” Why is it so unbelievable to you that I was talking about principles and not the specific events of that day?

  49. And the facts were not definitively known to be false at that point, though evidence had certainly called them into question. That’s why I began with “the circumstances could…”

  50. “We cannot let joe escape this time. I won’t let him sit there, with his smug sense of superiority, at his Macintosh, stroking his goatee, and chuckling as he digs in to a carton of Ben & Jerry’s.”

    um, crimethink, um… you just described me.

    well, just add “spanking into a STATA manual” and then it’s me. 🙂

    look, I’m someone who is very ignorant about this topic. I am suspicious of police power, but know several fantastic people who are cops, and i’ve been helped in a serious situation by a cop…

    but it seems to me that you all are talking by each other on this topic.

    One should use new/better/more (relevant) information in decision making. Isn’t that what all of you are in vehement agreement on?

    I don’t think getting on joe for doing that here is hitting the main issue. We can probably get on all of us for our various strong opinions that we either change due to more info or where we simply stay entrenched. so… taking a big step away from the postings of personal destruction for a moment……… (Warren: pour a coupla rounds here, please)

    taking personalities out of it, what are the basic issues where there’s agreement and disagreement – isn’t all of this a case of “if we knew then what we know now”?

    respectfully,
    drf

  51. drf,

    My secret web cams must be labeled wrong. I’ll look into that…

  52. I think crimethink’s onto something about the unarmed English police. If you declare the subset of police who have firearms to be the “Special Armed Response Team,” it’s very, very likely that they will come to see themselves, and be seen by policymakers, as “the guys you call when someone needs to be shot.”

    Contrast this with American cops, many of whom work for 30, 40 years without ever firing a shot.

  53. When did this forum go from well informed reasonable discussion to dogpile on the unbeliever?

    From the way alot of you are dealing with joe i can understand why most main stream folks think we’re all like the guy handing out cigarettes and toy guns to kids.

    When i read those posts of joe’s i see a regular law and order type taking a rather reasonable decision. He suspends judgement until the evidence comes out. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

    BTW, i think he’s right when he says,

    “I think it would be better to say, “the default position is that something is wrong,” rather than to assume the problem was with the cops on the scene.”

    It sounds like the cops on the scene were called in as a hit squad. They did exactly what they were trained to do, which was to neutralize a “dangerous terrorist”. It seems to me that the fault lies in the folks who did the original investigating, the folks who called in the hit squad, and (primarily) the folks who authorized a group with shoot to kill orders in the first place.

    So why, exactly, are a bunch of libertarians dogpilling a “statist” for pointing out that the problem may lay with giving the police too much power?

  54. decision = position in the third paragraph above.

    I suppose i ought to proof read.

  55. The amusing thing, I’m not a “regular law and order type.”

    I’m an ACLU-sympathizing, anti-prohibition liberal.

  56. joe, the important thing is, do you have a goatee?

  57. I think crimethink’s onto something about the unarmed English police. If you declare the subset of police who have firearms to be the “Special Armed Response Team,” it’s very, very likely that they will come to see themselves, and be seen by policymakers, as “the guys you call when someone needs to be shot.”

    That does make sense.

  58. From the way alot of you are dealing with joe

    Because Joe is an asshole, Brian. He is a smug, dismissive sort who likes to label people who disagree with him as fanatics. People who’ve reacted badly to that are jumping to criticize him as much for his deriding their reactions at the time as for his reactions.

    I’m not personally attacking him on this issue because I actually tended to vaguely agree with him at the time, pending evidence. And on that issue alone, I thought he was mostly reasonable. But I can understand the temptation for someone who disagreed, especially after his sanctimonious proclaimation (during discussions linking the incident to New York’s idiotic bag searches) that being too wedded to a nice idea like civil liberties would lead to “blood in the streets” just like any other crazy ideology.

  59. “I’m not personally attacking him on this issue because I actually tended to vaguely agree with him at the time…

    Now THAT’S someone who needs to lecture other people on proper etiquette and intellectual decency.

  60. Heh. You don’t even wait for a little scroll-buffer to try to distort my post, joe.

    Hint, in the very next sentence: “And on that issue alone, I thought he was mostly reasonable.” As in making arguments, not simply being a contrarian and trying to piss people off.

  61. (See why I call him an asshole?)

  62. I’ll say it in smaller words for you, then.

    After deigning to lecture us on the terrible practice of attacking someone personally because you disagree with them, you wrote, “I’m not personally attacking him on this issue because I actually tended to vaguely agree with him at the time…”

    Ha ha ha.

  63. Joe, I haven’t lectured on any subject. I haven’t decried any terrible practices…I’ve just pointed out to (someone I haven’t seen around much and who was marvelling at the hostility you receive) that you are a prat.

    But, if you really want a lecture, Joe… If you’re going to excerpt from something I say in order to misrepresent me, you’ll have better luck if you don’t do so directly below my post.

  64. I wonder what kind of music joe likes to listen to. Let’s speculate!

    He’s certainly much more interesting than some ne’er-do-well who got shot in the head a couple of times. I say rub some dirt on it!

  65. Joe seems like a Big Dipper fan. Or maybe Hella.

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