Jean Charles de Menezes

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Recent History

Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes
Born 7 January 1978
Gonzaga, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Died 22 July 2005
Stockwell Tube station, London

Jean Charles de Menezes ( 7 January 1978– 22 July 2005) was a Brazilian electrician living in the Tulse Hill area of south London. Menezes was shot and killed at Stockwell tube station on the London Underground by unnamed Metropolitan Police officers. Police later issued an apology, saying that they had mistaken him for a suspect in the previous day's failed bombings and acknowledging that Menezes in fact had no explosives and was unconnected with the attempted bombings.


The son of a bricklayer, Menezes grew up on a farm in Gonzaga, Minas Gerais, Brazil. After discovering an early aptitude for electronics, he left the farm at age 14 to live with his uncle in São Paulo and further his education. At 19 he received a professional diploma from Escola Estadual (State School) São Sebastião. He had originally wanted to go to the United States of America but was refused a work visa.

He entered the UK on a tourist visa in 2002, and later obtained a student visa valid until June 2003. According to a statement by the British Home Office, he did not apply for any extension, and, thus, was living illegally in the UK after that time.

Within four months of his arrival he had a good grasp of the English language, and sent money he earned back to his family in Brazil.

On 22 July 2005 Menezes was shot and killed by Metropolitan Police armed officers.

On 27 July 2005, Menezes' body was flown to Brazil for burial. His funeral took place in Gonzaga, Brazil, on 29 July 2005.

A public memorial service for Menezes was presided over by Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor at Westminster Cathedral around the same time.

Background to the shooting

Almost all of the facts regarding the Menezes shooting were initially disputed by various parties. Contradictory witness accounts, " off the record" statements from police, and media speculation added to the confusion. An ITV report on 16 August 2005 claimed to contain leaked documents from an IPCC investigation which provided additional information. For a summary of the facts and events initially disputed, see Disputed facts and events.

On 22 July 2005, London police were searching for four suspects in four attempted bombings carried out the previous day; three at Underground stations and one on a bus in Hackney. As the perpetrators had not died in the failed suicide bombing, a large police investigation began immediately, with the aim of tracking them down. A written address reportedly had been identified from materials found inside the unexploded bags used by the bombers, located within a three-storey block of nine flats in Scotia Road, Tulse Hill.

At around 9:30 a.m., surveillance officers observing the address saw Menezes emerge from the communal entrance of the block. The officers were watching three men who they claimed were Somali or Ethiopian in appearance.

Menezes, an electrician, lived in one of the flats with two of his cousins, and had just received a call to fix a broken fire alarm in Kilburn.

An officer on duty at Scotia Road compared Menezes to the CCTV photographs of the bombing suspects from the previous day, and felt "it would be worth someone else having a look", but "was in the process of relieving [him]self", and was thus unable to immediately turn on a video camera to transmit images to Gold Command, the Metropolitan Police ("Met") operational headquarters for major incidents. Police thought they had positively identified a suicide bomber.

On the basis of this officer's suspicion, Gold Command authorised officers to continue pursuit and surveillance.

Documents from the independent agency investigation of the shooting later concluded that mistakes in police surveillance procedure led to a failure to properly identify Menezes early on, leading to rushed assumptions and actions later at Stockwell Tube station.

Pursuit and shooting

Stockwell tube station entrance
Stockwell tube station entrance

The officers followed Menezes for 5 minutes as he walked to a bus-stop on Tulse Hill for the Number 2 bus routes. As he boarded a bus, several plainclothes police officers boarded, continuing the pursuit.

At Brixton Station Menezes briefly got off the bus, saw the station was closed, and reboarded the bus to continue to Stockwell. The three surveillance officers later stated that they were satisfied that they had the correct man, as he "had mongolian eyes". Finally the bus arrived at Stockwell Tube station, 3.3km (2 miles) away.

At some point during this journey, the pursuing officers contacted Gold Command, and reported that Menezes potentially matched the description of two of the previous day's suspects, including Osman Hussain. Based on this information, Gold Command authorized "code red" tactics, and ordered the surveillance officers to prevent Menezes from boarding a train. According to a "senior police source at Scotland Yard", Police Commander Cressida Dick told the surveillance team that the man was to be "detained as soon as possible", before entering the station. Gold Command then transferred control of the operation to SO19, which dispatched firearms officers to Stockwell Tube Station.

At some point Menezes phoned a colleague, Gesio de Avila, saying he would be late due to the disruption of public transport caused by the previous day's attempted bombings.

Menezes entered the Tube station at about 10:00 a.m., stopping to pick up a free Metro newspaper. He used his Oyster card to pay the fare, walked through the barriers, and descended the escalator slowly. He then ran across the platform to board the newly-arrived train. Menezes boarded the train and found one of the first available seats.

Three surveillance officers, codenamed Hotel 1, Hotel 3 and Hotel 9, followed Menezes onto the train. According to Hotel 3, Menezes sat down with a glass panel to his right about two seats in. Hotel 3 then took a seat on the left with about two or three people between the surveillance officer and Menezes. When the firearms officers arrived on the platform, Hotel 3 moved to the door, blocked it from closing with their left foot, and shouted 'He's here!' to identify the suspect's location.

The firearms officers boarded the train and challenged the suspect. According to Hotel 3, Menezes then stood up and advanced towards the officers and Hotel 3, at which point Hotel 3 grabbed him, pinned his arms against his torso, and pushed him back into the seat. Although Menezes was being restrained, his body was straight and not in a natural sitting position. After hearing a shot close to their ear, the surveillance officer was dragged away onto the floor of the carriage. Hotel 3 then shouted 'Police!' and with hands raised was dragged out of the carriage by one of the armed officers who had boarded the train. Hotel 3 then heard several gunshots while being dragged out. Two officers fired a total of eleven shots according to the number of empty shell casings found on the floor of the train afterwards. At close range, Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. He died at the scene. An eyewitness later said that the eleven shots were fired over a thirty second period, at three second intervals. A separate witness reported hearing five shots, followed at an interval by several more shots. It later emerged that dum-dum bullets had been employed and a senior police source said that de Menezes had been "unrecognisable." Although the bullets are illegal in warfare, a Home Office spokesman said "Chief officers can use whatever ammunition they consider appropriate for the operational circumstances." Immediately after the shooting, the Metropolitan Police stated that the shooting was "directly linked" to the investigation of the attempted bombings the previous day. It was revealed that police policy toward suspected suicide bombers had been revised, instructing officers to fire directly toward the head, as British authorities state that shooting at the chest could detonate a concealed bomb.

The SO19 firearms officers involved in the shooting were debriefed and drugs and alcohol tests were taken as a standard procedure. The officers were taken off duty pending an investigation into the shooting.

Later, a security agency source said: “This take-out is the signature of a special forces operation. It is not the way the police usually do things. We know members of SO19 have been receiving training from the SAS, but even so, this has special forces written all over it.”

Aftermath of the shooting

The day after the shooting, the Metropolitan Police identified the victim as Jean Charles de Menezes, and said that he had not been carrying explosives, nor was he connected in any way to the attempted bombings. They issued an apology describing the incident as "a tragedy, and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets."

Menezes's family condemned the shooting and rejected the apology. His grandmother said there was "no reason to think he was a terrorist." It was reported that the dead man's family were offered almost £585,000 compensation.

His cousin, Alex Alves Pereira, said, "I believe my cousin's death was result of police incompetence." Pereira said that police claims regarding the incident had been conflicting, and took issue with their pursuit of Menezes for an extended period and their allowing the "suspected suicide bomber" to board a bus. "Why did they let him get on a bus if they are afraid of suicide bombers?… He could have been running, but not from the police… When the Underground stops, everybody runs to get on the train. That he jumped over the barriers is a lie."

The Brazilian government released a statement expressing its shock at the killing, saying that it looked forward "to receiving the necessary explanation from the British authorities on the circumstances which led to this tragedy." Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, who had already arranged to visit London, said he would seek a meeting with the UK's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. He later met ministers and had a telephone conversation with Straw.

The Muslim Council of Britain expressed immediate concern about the apparent existence of a " shoot-to-kill" policy and called on police to make clear their reasons for shooting the man dead.

Public reaction

The reaction of the British public to the shooting was mixed. While some sympathised with the need for the police officer in question to make a split-second decision, and saw it as a case of collateral damage, others condemned the killings as an example of police brutality.

The reaction of the Brazilian public was overwhelmingly negative. Protests and demonstrations were held in Brazil, and some Brazilian commentators noted that incidents such as Menezes' killing are more typical of a developing country such as Brazil than a developed nation like the UK.. The level of Brazilian protestation raised criticism with some British commentators who noted that extra-judicial executions by the police in Brazil are far from rare. An Amnesty International report published in 2004 pointed out that official figures show that in 2003 police shot dead 915 people in São Paulo alone, while 1,195 were killed by police in Rio de Janeiro. Amnesty also reported that such deaths were rarely investigated. Others questioned whether the United Kingdom should use this standard to justify its own failing in this instance.

A vigil at Stockwell Station was held with some of the relatives on the Sunday immediately following the shooting and police apology. Another, called by the Stop the War Coalition, was held on the 25 July. They state that a thousand people attended and then several hundred people, led by a group of Brazilians (some of whom had been friends with Jean Charles), began an impromptu demonstration. When they approached Westminster they were stopped and turned back by police at Vauxhall Bridge, the location of the MI6 building.

On 23 August 2005 Dania Gorodi, whose sister Michelle Otto was killed in the 7 July 2005 London bombings, asked for an end to the criticism of Sir Ian Blair over the Menezes shooting, which she felt had moved the media focus away from the bombings. "People have lost sight of the bigger picture," she said. "We need to support the police right now, not crucify one man. This is unprecedented in British history. He [Sir Ian] is doing the best he can."

When on 12 September 2006 the Metropolitan Police Authority promoted Commander Cressida Dick to the role of Deputy Assistant Commissioner, the family said they were "absolutely disgusted".

Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry

Several days after the discovery of the mistaken shooting, it was announced that the incident would be subject to an internal investigation by officers from Scotland Yard's Directorate of Professional Standards and would be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), as is the case with all fatal police shootings.

In the hours immediately after the shooting, Commissioner Sir Ian Blair telephoned the Chairman of the IPCC and wrote a letter to the Home Office stating that "the shooting that has just occurred at Stockwell is not to be referred to the IPCC and that they will be given no access to the scene at the present time." The Commissioner's intent, according to the letter later released by the Met under the Freedom of Information Act, was to protect the tactics and sources of information used in a counter-terrorism operation from public disclosure.

Controversy between the Met and IPCC

On 18 August, lawyers representing the Menezes family met with the IPCC and urged them to conduct a "fast" investigation. After the meeting the lawyers, Harriet Wistrich and Gareth Peirce, held a press conference where Ms. Peirce stated: "This has been a chaotic mess. What we have asked the IPCC to find out is how much is incompetence, negligence or gross negligence and how much of it is something sinister."

On 18 August, the IPCC issued a statement in which they alleged that the "Metropolitan Police Service initially resisted us taking on the investigation". They also announced that the inquiry was expected to last between three and six months. Initial press reports indicated that the inquiry was not handed over until 27 July, though the IPCC itself announced it took over the inquiry on 25 July.

In May 2006, the Metropolitan Police Federation released a 12-page statement which was highly critical of the IPCC in general, and specifically criticized the handling of the "Stockwell inquiry".

Leak of inquiry

On 16 August 2005 British broadcast network ITV released a report said to be based on leaked documents from the IPCC investigation. The report conflicted with previous statements by Police Chief Sir Ian Blair. The Metropolitan Police and the IPCC refused comment on the allegations while the IPCC investigation was ongoing, though an anonymous 'senior police source' claimed that the leak was accurate. Lana Vandenberghe, the IPCC secretary thought to be responsible for the leak, was suspended.

The IPCC launched an investigation into the leaking of the documents. On 21 September Leicestershire Constabulary Serious Crime Unit initiated dawn raids on behalf of the IPCC on one Scottish and two London residential premises, at which time Vandenberghe was arrested. On 5 October two more dawn raids took place, during which ITN journalist Neil Garrett and his girlfriend were arrested.

On 4 May 2006 the Leicestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service announced that no charges would be filed against Vandenberghe, Garrett or his partner.

Completion of Stockwell 1

According to a press release made on 9 December by the IPCC's chairman Nick Hardwick and John Tate, its Director of Legal Services, the inquiry's report will list some of the criminal offences that the commission thought may have been committed by police. Though without having reached any conclusions, they also admitted the commission's judgement would be a "lower threshold" than the standard prosecutors would apply in making any final decision to prosecute.

On March 14, 2006, the IPCC announced that the first part of the inquiry, known as "Stockwell 1" had been completed and recommendations were passed on to the Metropolitan Police Authority and Crown Prosecution Service, but the report "[could not] be made public until all legal processes have concluded."

Stockwell 2

"Stockwell 2", the second part of the inquiry, is said to focus on the conduct of Sir Ian Blair following the discovery of Menezes' identity, and is still continuing.

Brian Paddick

On 17 March 2006, the Met was threatened with legal action by Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Brian Paddick. In evidence to the IPCC, Paddick had stated that a member of Sir Ian's private office team believed the wrong man had been targeted just six hours after the shooting, contrary to the official line taken at the time. When this information became public, Scotland Yard issued a statement that the officer making the claim (Paddick) "has categorically denied this in his interview with, and statement to, the IPCC investigators". The statement continued that they "were satisfied that whatever the reasons for this suggestion being made, it is simply not true." Paddick's interpretation of this statement was that it accused him of lying.

After a statement was released on 28 March by the Met that it "did not intend to imply" a senior officer had misled the probe into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, Mr. Paddick accepted the "clarification" and considered the matter closed.

Result of CPS investigation

In July 2006, the Crown Prosecution Service announced it would not carry forward any charges against any individual involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. The Metropolitan Police will, however, face charges under Sections 3 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for "failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes". The decision not to prosecute individuals was made on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

The Metropolitan Police entered a not guilty plea to the charges, "after the most careful consideration". The trial date has been set for October 2007.

Controversy over police procedure

Much discussion following the shooting centred around the rules of engagement followed by armed police when dealing with suspected suicide bombers. Roy Ramm, a former commander of specialist operations for the Metropolitan Police, said that the rules had been changed to permit officers to " shoot to kill" potential suicide bombers, because a head shot is the only way to disable the bomber without risking detonating their explosives.

The possibility of a police confrontation with a suicide bomber in the United Kingdom had reportedly been discussed following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. Based on this possibility, new guidelines were developed for identifying, confronting, and dealing forcefully with terrorist suspects. These guidelines were given the code name " Operation Kratos".

Based in part on advice from the security forces of Israel and Sri Lanka — two countries with experience of suicide bombings — Operation Kratos guidelines allegedly state that the head or lower limbs should be aimed at when a suspected suicide bomber appears to have no intention of surrendering. This is contrary to the usual practice of aiming at the torso, which presents the biggest target. A successful hit to the torso may detonate an explosive belt.

Sir Ian Blair appeared on television on 24 July 2005 to accept responsibility for the error on the part of the Metropolitan Police, and to acknowledge and defend the "shoot to kill" policy, saying:

"There is no point in shooting at someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be. There is no point in shooting anywhere else if they fall down and detonate it."

The Met's commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and his predecessor Lord Stevens, had expressed concern about the legal position of police officers who might kill suspected suicide bombers. There is no explicit legal requirement for armed officers to warn a suspect before firing, although guidelines published by the Association of Chief Police Officers say that this "should be considered". A potential suicide bomber is thought to represent a circumstance where warning the suspect may put the public at greater risk because the bomber may detonate his explosives after being warned.

Lord Stevens defended the policy he introduced, despite the error that had been made. Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain was critical, saying: "I just cannot imagine how someone pinned to the ground can be a source of danger." Other leaders of the UK's Muslim community took a similar view. Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, defended the police as having acted in the way they thought appropriate at the time, and with the aim of protecting the public.

The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign

On 16 August 2005, the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign, also known as "Justice4Jean", began calling for a public inquiry into the shooting. In 2005, the Justice4Jean campaign stated its aims as being to:

  • find out the truth about Jean’s unlawful killing
  • bring those responsible for his death to justice
  • end the ‘Shoot to Kill’ policy and so prevent a similar tragedy happening again

A fourth objective, "to campaign against the rising tide of racism and the attack on civil liberties in the UK", was removed from the site in a subsequent site redesign, but was present at the site's inception and in early press releases.

As there has been no legal process to assess the lawfulness or otherwise of the killing, critics argue that the inclusion of 'unlawful' in the Campaign's first aim reflects a prejudging of the issue. Critics such as Conservative Party London Assemblyman Brian Coleman have suggested that the involvement of Asad Rehman, a former leader of the Stop the War Coalition and adviser to MP George Galloway, in the Justice4Jean campaign shows that the family's campaign had been "hijacked" and the death of Menezes was being used to "advance a political aim."

Galloway's secretary said that Rehman was acting in "a personal capacity, … not in his role as political adviser". Menezes family members Alessandro Pereira and Vivien Figueiredo have stated that "the campaign is not using or manipulating us."

The family campaign has organised three events in 2005:

  • On 29 July 2005, a vigil in Parliament Square and a multifaith memorial service at Westminster Cathedral were held at the same time as Jean's funeral in Brazil.
  • On 22 August 2005, a petition asking for a public inquiry was delivered to Downing Street by Menezes family member Alessandro Pereira and members of Justice4Jean. The protestors made their way from Downing Street to Scotland Yard, together with the relatives of Paul Coker and Azelle Rodney, individuals who also died in London police incidents in 2005.
  • On 10 October 2005, the campaign was publicly launched at the London School of Economics with Menezes' parents, the family lawyer Gareth Peirce, Bianca Jagger, Matthew Taylor MP and Irene Khan from Amnesty International.

Similar incidents

The Metropolitan Police have been involved in a number of other incidents in which innocent people have been injured or killed by gunshot, such as:

  • 1983 – Stephen Waldorf, shot and injured whilst driving a Mini car. Police were looking for escaped prisoner David Martin, believed Waldorf's girlfriend Sue Stephens was Martin's girlfriend, and on this basis shot Waldorf. Two officers stood trial for attempted murder and attempted wounding but were cleared of all charges; Waldorf made a full recovery and eventually received £150,000 compensation.
  • 1999 – Harry Stanley, 46, from Hackney, East London, was shot and killed by Metropolitan Police officers who apparently had mistaken a chair-leg being carried in a plastic bag for a firearm.
  • On 2 June 2006, two family homes were raided in an operation involving 250 police in Forest Gate, east London. Both men who were arrested were released without charge. One man, Abdul Kahar, was shot in the shoulder by police. The raid was based on faulty intelligence.
  • On 2 November 2006 BBC CEEFAX and ITV Teletext reported that one of the officers involved in the de Menezes shooting had been involved in the killing of another person, this time on Tuesday 31 Oct 2006 during an alleged armed robbery at the New Romney branch of the Nationwide Building Society. The person, later named as Robert Bruce Haines, a 41 year old company director from Ashford, Kent, was reported as having later died in the William Harvey Hospital from multiple gunshot wounds.

Other UK police forces have been involved in similar incidents:

  • 1988 – the Attorney General announced that eleven RUC officers investigated by the Stalker/Sampson inquiry into an alleged "shoot to kill" policy would not be prosecuted. International criticism followed.
  • 1998 – James Ashley, 39, was shot and killed by Sussex Police while naked and unarmed during a drugs raid at his flat in St Leonards in East Sussex.

British military forces have also faced legal consequences in at least one similar incident:

  • 1988 – three IRA operatives were shot dead in Gibraltar by SAS soldiers, allegedly under a "shoot to kill" policy intended to prevent them from operating any detonator on their person. The three people killed had no explosives or detonators on them, although a timed car bomb was found later. They had been under surveillance for some time prior to the incident. The European Court of Human Rights held, by majority, that there was an opportunity to stop them at an earlier stage without having to shoot them and accordingly their right to life had been infringed.

Use of deadly force in anti-terrorism policies resulted in a similar event in the USA:

  • December 2005 – Rigoberto Alpizar was fatally shot at Miami International Airport by two United States of America Federal Air Marshals in similar circumstances.

Disputed facts and events

Many of the "disputed" facts in this section were very quickly resolved. Some were later demonstated as being patently false and to be fabrications of various "eyewitnesses" and journalists.

Disputed facts include:


With regards to his dress on the day of the shooting The Observer reported that he was dressed in "baseball cap, blue fleece and baggy trousers." Mark Whitby, a witness to the shooting, told Reuters that he observed Menezes wearing a large winter coat, which "looked out of place". Vivien Figueiredo, a cousin of Menezes, was later told by police that Menezes was wearing a denim jacket on the day of the shooting. Anthony Larkin, another eyewitness, told the BBC that Menezes appeared to be wearing a " bomb belt with wires coming out."

Based on these eyewitness reports, press speculation at the time said that wearing such heavy clothing on a warm day raised suspicions that Menezes was hiding explosives underneath, and was therefore a potential suicide bomber. At the time of the shooting, the temperature in London (at a Heathrow Airport weather station) was about 17  °C (62  °F).

No device resembling a bomb belt was reported as found. Menezes was also not carrying a tool bag, since he had left it with his work colleague the previous evening. According to the report on leaked IPCC documents, Menezes was wearing a pair of jeans and a light denim jacket. This was confirmed by a photo of his body on the floor of the carriage after the shooting.

Police challenge

Police initially stated that they challenged Menezes and ordered him to stop outside Stockwell station. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said in a press conference that a warning was issued prior to the shooting. Lee Ruston, an eyewitness who was waiting on the platform, said the police did not identify themselves. The Times reported "senior police sources" as saying that police policy would not require a warning to be given to a suspected suicide bomber before lethal action was taken.

The leaked IPCC documents indicated that Menezes was seated on the train carriage when the SO19 armed unit arrived. A shout of 'police' may have been made, but the suspect never really had an opportunity to respond before he was shot. The leaked documents indicated that he was restrained by an unarmed officer before being shot.

Ticket barrier

Witnesses stated that up to twenty police officers in plain clothes pursued Menezes into Stockwell station, that he jumped over the ticket barrier, ran down an escalator and tried to jump onto a train. The Menezes' family were briefed by the police that their son did not jump over the ticket barrier and may have used a Travelcard to pass through.

The pathologist's post mortem report, which was written in the presence of senior police officers five days after the shooting, recorded that Jean “vaulted over the ticket barriers” and that he “ran down the stairs of the tube station”. By this time the police knew that this version of events was incorrect.

Police initially refused to release CCTV footage while the IPCC investigation was ongoing, even to the family. It had been suggested that the man reported by eyewitnesses as jumping over the barrier, may have been one of the police officers in pursuit.

According to the leaked IPCC documents, Menezes passed through the barrier normally using his pre-paid Oyster card.

CCTV footage

Initial UK media reports suggested that no CCTV footage was available from the Stockwell station, as recording media had not been replaced after being removed for examination after the previous day's attempted bombings. Other reports stated that faulty cameras on the platform were the reason for the lack of video evidence. An anonymous source confirmed that CCTV footage was available for the ticket area, but that there was a problem with the platform coverage. The source suggested that there was no useful CCTV footage from the platform or the train carriage.

Extracts from a later police report stated that examination of the platform cameras had produced no footage. It said: "It has been established that there has been a technical problem with the CCTV equipment on the relevant platform and no footage exists." It also reported there was no footage from CCTV in the carriage where Mr. Menezes was shot, saying "Although there was on-board CCTV in the train, due to previous incidents, the hard drive had been removed and not replaced."

The platform CCTV system is maintained by the Tube Lines consortium in charge of maintaining the Northern Line; unofficial sources from inside the company insisted that the cameras were in working order. It was also reported that London Underground sources insisted that at least three of the four cameras trained on the Stockwell Tube platform were in full working order, and rejected suggestions that the cameras had not been fitted with new tapes after police took away footage from the previous day, 21 July, when suspects in the failed bombings caught trains there.


Several reasons were initially posited by media sources and family members for why Menezes may have run from police, as indicated by initial reports. A few weeks prior, he had been attacked by a gang and may have relived the situation upon seeing plainclothes officers chasing him. Several sources have speculated that irregularities about his immigration status may have given him reason to be wary of the police. Menezes' student visa had expired, he was working illegally and some suggest fearful of being deported by authorities. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a work colleague believed that Menezes ran simply because he was late for his job.

It was later indicated by the leaked IPCC documents that Menezes ran across the platform apparently to get a seat on the train, but did not know at the time that he was being watched or pursued.


It was initially stated by police that Menezes was shot five times in the head. Mark Whitby, a passenger on the train Menezes had run onto, said: "one of [the police officers] was carrying a black handgun—it looked like an automatic—He half tripped… they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him." Another passenger, Dan Copeland, said: "an officer jumped on the door to my left and screamed, 'Everybody out!' People just froze in their seats cowering for a few seconds and then leapt up. As I turned out the door onto the platform, I heard four dull bangs." Menezes' cousin Alex Pereira, who lived with him, asserted that Menezes had been shot from behind: "I pushed my way into the morgue. They wouldn't let me see him. His mouth was twisted by the wounds and it looked like he had been shot from the back of the neck." Later reports confirmed that Jean Charles de Menezes was shot a total of eight times: seven times in the head and once in the shoulder.

The leaked IPCC documents also indicated that an additional three shots had missed Menezes. One witness claimed that the shots were evenly distributed over a timespan of thirty seconds. However this has not been substantiated by other witness reports or the leaked IPCC documents.

Involvement of special forces

Several commentators suggested that special forces may have been involved in the shooting. Professor Michael Clarke, Professor of Defence Studies at King's College London, went as far as to say that unless there had been a major change in policy it was likely that it was not the police who had carried out the shooting, but special forces:

"To have bullets pumped into him like this suggests quite a lot about him and what the authorities, whoever they are, assumed about him. The fact that he was shot in this way strongly suggests that it was someone the authorities knew and suspected he was carrying explosives on him. […] You don't shoot somebody five times if you think you might have made a mistake and may be able to arrest him. […] Even Special Branch and SO19 are not trained to do this sort of thing. It's plausible that they were special forces or elements of special forces."

Later, on 4 August 2005, The Guardian reported that the newly-created Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), a special forces unit specialising in covert surveillance, were involved in the operation that led to the shooting. The anonymous Whitehall sources who provided the story stressed that the SRR were involved only in intelligence-gathering, and that Menezes was shot by armed police not by members of the SRR or other soldiers. Defence sources would not comment on speculation that SRR soldiers were among the plainclothes officers who followed Menezes on to the No. 2 bus. On 21 August, the Sunday Herald reported that SRR men are believed to have been in the tube train when the shooting occurred.

Unfounded rape allegations

In February 2006, a woman claimed to police that a man who resembled Menezes attacked her in a hotel room on New Year's Eve 2002 in West London. Scotland Yard spent several weeks investigating the claim. After the claim was made public in March 2006, the Menezes family denied the allegations and claimed that the Met was trying to "smear" Menezes. Although the family initially resisted giving the claim any credibility, a blood sample was eventually taken with their permission from Menezes's autopsy. On 25 April 2006 Scotland Yard announced that forensic tests on the sample had cleared Menezes.

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