Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 23, 2005

Execution "Tragedy"

"He looked absolutely petrified and then he sort of tripped, but they were hotly pursuing him, [they] couldn't have been any more than two or three feet behind him at this time and he half tripped and was half pushed to the floor and the policeman nearest to me had the black automatic pistol in his left hand.

"He held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him.
BBC News, Friday, 22 July, 2005

A man shot dead by police as part of the inquiry into Thursday's attempted bomb attacks was unconnected to the incidents, police have confirmed.

A Scotland Yard statement said the shooting was a "tragedy" which was regretted by the Metropolitan Police.
BBC News, Saturday, 23 July, 2005

Posted by b on July 23, 2005 at 16:25 UTC | Permalink


the guy was wearing a heavy coat, in july in london

he came out of a block of flats that was under surveillance

he ran away from the police

you can see why the police concluded he was a suicide bomber, and executed him on the spot (presumably they shot in in the head - because if they shot him in the torso the bomb which might have been strapped to his body might have exploded)

it IS a tragedy

this is life during wartime - you got to live it, or live with it

Posted by: mistah charley | Jul 23 2005 16:40 utc | 1

they thought he was a suicide bomber so they chased him and pushed him down before they shot him. Because if he had a bomb, it would be dangerous to shoot him from afar and safe to first trip him. Hm...

I do not know what they are hiding (revenge for the bombings? police out of control? silencing some pesky individual? settling an old score?) but the police version does not add up.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Jul 23 2005 16:57 utc | 2

@mistah charley - so when you come out a block of flats (maybe under surveilance, but how should you know) wearing a heavy looking coat, maybe because the lighter one needed cleaning, and you get challenged by three bullies of a different race than yours, and you run away because you are afraid they may want to "rough you up" and you trip and they have you down on the ground you donĀ“t mind being shot? Just a tragedy.

Three policemen, trained people, have a guy on the ground and then shoot him it without a second thought it is murder, not a tragedy.

But that's to me - your milage may vary.

Posted by: b | Jul 23 2005 17:03 utc | 3

b - i regret that i expressed myself in terms which led to an apparent misunderstanding

in my view, it's a tragedy because this killing by the police - in what is presented as a case of mistaken identity, and may well be that - grew naturally out of the situation as it existed, and out of the character of the persons involved in it

i don't consider that "murder by the police" and "tragedy" are mutually exclusive categories - whereas apparently you do - once again we see the importance of the admittedly annoying question "what do you mean by that?"

skod makes an important point - the behavior of the police gunmen is irrational given the premise of the story as presented -

so either

1)the story is false or materially incomplete OR
2)the story is substantially true and the police gunmen behaved in an irrational way

from here (i'm writing from the united states) it is not possible for me to know which is correct - but both seem plausible enough to me

may the creative forces of the universe have mercy on our souls, if any

Posted by: mistah charley | Jul 23 2005 17:26 utc | 4

How do you know that the poor guy wasnt a hassidic
jew, people who wear coats all year around and does strange movements as walks?
B : pls edit my letter.

Posted by: curious | Jul 23 2005 17:37 utc | 5

shoot first.

ask questions later.

wild west tradition. ooops, no, it was
Herman Goering::

Shoot first and inquire afterwords, and if you make mistakes, I will protect you.
Instruction for the Prussian Police [1933]

Posted by: degustibus | Jul 23 2005 18:07 utc | 6

the only positive thing about this is that charges may be brought against the agent that killed this guy. he would get a medal in the good ole USA.

you gotta wonder about red ken though, him going on TV and telling everyone the police were going to shoot suspects in the head must have given pause to some of the people who elected him.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jul 23 2005 18:41 utc | 7

Mistah Charley, glad you came back and cleared things up.

Our governments have been far from fortright as to whether there is a war on or not. Last I heard anything, they wanted us to keep shopping, to help the economy.

These days, there are lots of hate crimes happening, and as it's been pointed out above, he may have been scared he was about to be the victim of one.
A building of flats in the UK can mean up to hundreds of flats - these uncdercover agents lost their sense of the situation completely.

It's hot where I live, but yesterday I was going to the Opera, and I was wearing a coat over my suit, after a squall. Maybe I should add a bullet proof vest.

Posted by: SteinL | Jul 23 2005 18:54 utc | 8

So being "under surveillance" now entitles the police to shoot to kill? How many people does the WOT have under surveillance around the world? Suspect = criminal = death sentence?

Iraqi civilians die every day in this way. Bring it on.

I don't know the protocols of London police. Which police carry guns. Was this a special unit that tailed and shot the victim? Is there any information about who he was?

In a war against a murky network of terror, collecting intelligence should be the highest priority. Therefore, capturing suspects alive would be the aim.

Israeli experience manadates shooting suicide bombers. It is still in doubt whether the original London tube bombers intended to be suicide bombers. They don't fit Pape's profile of resistance to an occupying power. And the detonators seemd to have been on timers. In other words, the concern about suicide bombers may be misplaced in London. Further, one should question whether the Isreali-Palestinian struggle is the appropriate model for all terrorist activities.

This killing looks like an execution.

Or totally irrational. per mistah C. In which case, the police in London need much more screening and training before they get "shoot to kill" orders.

Posted by: small coke | Jul 23 2005 19:16 utc | 9

I am anxiously waiting for representatives from the neighborhood to go before the media cameras to assure the people that a full investigation is underway, with respect to this latest example of state sponsored terrorism. Surely there will be an appeaI for all community members to close ranks and come forward with any information concerning any suspicious police behavior. And we fully expect the "policeman" in question to be spirited away to an undisclosed country for interrogation. Any minute now, the "police" station cell itself will be surrounded and its inhabitants detained for questioning. A full roundup of religious, political, and ideological leaders associated with and perhaps the driving force behind the attack, providing the logistical and financial support of the police cell, will be put under 24 hour surveilence with all computer and phone records being seized. The Prime Minister will address the nation tonight in a renewed effort to galvanize the nation in support of his anti- state sponsored terrorism initiative. Right?

Posted by: anna missed | Jul 23 2005 19:37 utc | 10

Tony has indeed brought Britain closer to the US. It's now yet another place where death may be the penalty for "running away from police while dark of skin."

Posted by: DeAnander | Jul 23 2005 19:41 utc | 11

This killing looks like an execution.

This wasn't an 'execution' it was a plain old FUBAR.

You don't do executions in broad daylight in front of the public... you 'disappear' the victim then let the friends and family hope for the best and worry about the worst... then the body shows up later usually with enough hints that the friends & family know what happened but not so much as to be indictable.

This assumes the 'victim' is guilty of course - really associated with the insurgency or terrorist cell. If after 'disappearing' the victim you learn it is all an 'honest mistake' and the subject is NOT associated with them... the body never does show up. You bury your mistakes where they won't get found.

No, this was a very visible and poorly handled screw up... you won't see or read about the executions.

Posted by: dry fly | Jul 23 2005 19:49 utc | 12

1) He was Brazilian, probably explains the coat.

2) Probably thought he was being mugged.

3) Probably has poor english.

4) No link whatsoever to the terror investigation.


Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jul 23 2005 19:49 utc | 13

I'm the first to demand police accountability and don't harbour any illusions about the police's capabilities for incompetence and brutality. But I have to say, I'm finding some of the attitudes here very irritating and ignorant.

Let's go through some assumptions. So the "three bullies" were of a different race to the man who was shot? How do you know? Were they white or Afro-Caribbean?

Your ordinary Metropolitan police officer does not carry a firearm. These were special police, possibly an anti-terrorist squad. The same police who kept London calm and safe throughout decades of IRA bombing campaigns with minimal loss of life and the full co-operation of the community. I personally am grateful to them.

The policy is, in case of a suspected suicide bomber, to aim for the head or legs. Aiming for the torso might set off explosives strapped to the body. The police did not shoot until they were up close - bystanders would have been hurt/killed otherwise.

Stockwell is a very mixed area racially. After the Brixton riots of the '80s, much attention was focused on educating police and improving community relations; police/community tension is now minimal. The area's chief officer (Brian Paddick, the highest ranking out gay police officer in Britain, btw) received criticism for a liberal policy towards drugs crimes - which are rife (he wanted to ignore cannabis offences and focus on prosecuting harder substances). If the police were naturally trigger-happy there'd be shootings every night, if they were still as insensitively racist as you lot make out, we'd still be having riots annually.

Within minutes of the shooting, it was announced that there would be an independent inquiry.

The police version of events adds up. Given recent events, they assumed the worst. It turns out they were wrong, they made a terrible mistake, so yes, it's a tragedy.

Posted by: JR Terrier | Jul 23 2005 20:27 utc | 14

@ dryfly - right about execution. Sometimes a crime or police response may be cover, but this is no cover.

@ Cloned poster - Brazilian. How often we have heard that many of those random, unreported Iraqi civilian deaths are caused by misunderstanding due to lack of a common language and fear? Troops speak little Arabic, Iraqis little English. Even shared language is not always enough, when the wrong appearance or a mistaken gesture can betray you, in an atmosphere charged with fear and suspicion. The fate of the Iraqi journalist Salihee.

It is war. The flypaper is looking more like a launching pad. If we actually hope to stem the tide of terrorism, the anti-terror strategists need to develop tactics less prone to fatal error, which fans the flames with greater fear and anger.

Posted by: small coke | Jul 23 2005 21:45 utc | 15

Yes just more collateral damage in the War on Heavy Coats.

Posted by: SW | Jul 23 2005 21:57 utc | 16

As I understand it an 'inquiry' is automatic when the police in the UK shoot someone. So it would have been strange if they hadn't announced one. Most police forces do this nowadays after one of them has murdered someone but the 'inquiry' is subject to very tight terms of reference the investigators are 'former' policemen and it is headed up by someone who is known to be sympathetic to the 'establishment' a junior Hutton.
Within hours of this murder it was apparent that the police had made a cock-up. I turned on BBC world after the report from the traumatised witness and there was an announcement that the police were going to have a press conference. The press turned up, the police didn't. They were running around like chooks with their heads cut off trying to find some way of linking this poor fellow with the bombing. The police still claim that they haven't identified the victim that's 3 days later and I find that rather difficult to believe. The chances are they would have known within an hour that this chap was not involved but they stayed schtum letting his family/friends suffer not knowing where their man was and even worse putting out insinuations that he was a suicide bomber/ bomb maker/terrorist.

Apart from the fact that it doesn't matter if the local copper jerks off llamas for a living, this bloke is still dead, the rats that did it were the usual gung ho killers that join the 'elite' squads of police forces. They earn big money in special allowances for the hassle of having to carry glocks as an extension of their penis, and are often unavailable for ordinary policing because they are off on a course to learn how to kill members of the community they are meant to be protecting, or even worse they consider themselves 'above' such things.

If it transpires this chap wasn't Asian but was South American that explains the Chief Constable's patronising speech about unsubstantiated rumour swirling around London. As per usual just like BushCo and every other little tinpot no-hoper that wants to 'rule' their patch; as far as the Chief Constable is concerned style outweighs substance every time so it was far more important to hold off details of this mistake until they had a couple of actual bombers to drag before the cameras, than to put this blokes friends and family out of their misery.
This duplicitious behaviour by every bureaucrat that ever did a 'media awareness course' is going to continue as long as we let them off the hook with explanations like The police version of events adds up. Given recent events, they assumed the worst. It turns out they were wrong, they made a terrible mistake, so yes, it's a tragedy.

We should be saying to the assholes up and down the chain of command that murdered this innocent. "you're lucky we're not going to put 5 shots into the back of your head, but we can't trust you anymore so on your bike and down to the dole office Monday morning."

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 23 2005 22:18 utc | 17

The Mayor of London's remarks were amusing.

Someone went off their nut and that someone should be charged with murder, if one guy fired 5 shots into the guy's head when he was down.

Hopefully, this cannot be brushed under the rug.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Jul 24 2005 0:07 utc | 18

Lookit this It seems this poor bugger (the shooting victim) has worried Chief Constable and Co so much he's been pressed into 'a defensive media squeeze'. The story I have linked to is more about the 7/7 murderers and their alleged links to a couple of Brit suicide bombers in Israel. There's nothing really new in the story as MSM has been burbling about this for days. Coincidentally it is released officially shortly after authorities have had to own a fatal error. But the story does have the ability to create sensationalistic media coverage aimed at overwhelming the London population with fear.

As in this place is becoming as dangerous as Tel Aviv. Scared peeps are less likely to be angry at people who make a cock-up protecting them.
That's the hope anyway.

Meanwhile a small cadre of Brazilian Fundamentalist Catholics (Opus Dei rulez OK!) is planning the ritual execution of numbers of cockney 'innocents'.
The beat goes on.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 24 2005 3:15 utc | 19

It's really easy for us to sit back at our keyboards and preach about how things should be, I'm sure the 101st fighting keyboards sort of mean what they say.
From what I've seen of what cops go through, (thanks largely to the ONLY reality show "COPS") it ain't all that clear WTF is going on when it happens.
What if the guy had been a suicide bomber? Would we all be damning the London police's incompentence? Would we be coming up with conspiracy theories as to how the police could have stopped it, but for some reason didn't shoot?
This was tragic, but hey, you stop in a public place and raise your empty hands-don't go down into a subway station a week after a bunch of bombings!
I, for one am willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt for now...still it's such a waste...

Posted by: doug r | Jul 24 2005 5:57 utc | 20

If it were an honest mistake why did the police sit on it for 3 days insinuating Jean Charles de Menezes was a terrorist. My point is not how things 'should be' cause we all have our own opinions on that, I want to know why even after Jean Charles de Menezes's life had been needlessly taken and the police KNEW he had nothing to do with the murders they allowed the public to think that he was a no good ragheaded terrarist and worst of all let Jean Charles de Menezes' family and friends suffer ignorance and innuendo right at the most horrible time in the grieving process ie right at the start.
@ DougR You're right none of us can know what happened. For example according to eye witnesses none of the police were in uniform so who the hell know's what was going through Jean Charles de Menezes' head when he was beset upon by armed men. Perhaps he wasn't a paragon of virtue, perhaps he thought he was being mugged in one of the toughest parts of town.
Only a full and open enquiry can hope to determine what really happened but there's no chance of that now the police have hunkered down for days getting their ducks in a row.
For 'a simple honest mistake' there is a lot of ass covering and media manipulation. Not the best way to deal with 'a simple honest mistake'.
There's no percentage in laboring a point with someone who can sit thru COPS blandly accepting the PR but have you ever wondered what would happen if the police went through a nice middle class neigbourhood demanding that everyone empty their pockets and berating anyone with more than $10?

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jul 24 2005 7:08 utc | 21

Those officers or their trainers were trained by Israeli forces.

Is that the right way to learn to fight terrorists? How successful have the Israeli been fightig terrorists? What are their values?

It is more and more obvious that the zionists are trying to get the "west" to fight as aproxy in their war. The "west" should see through this. This "war" can not be won.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2005 7:42 utc | 22

You know, it is amazing how we just swallow all the bullshit that gets thrown out. The press says it was "an unusually warm day" in London. Yeah, but London is never fucking warm. Did anyone actually check what the tempature was? The low on the 22nd was 55 degrees and the high 69. That's a nice warm day in London but it is fucking freezing in Sao Paulo Brazil. The guy was fucking Brazilian. I used to live in Southern Arizona. When it is in the 50's there everyone wears coats.

It's just screwed how anyone can say this man deserved to be shot because he was stupid enough to wear an overcoat on a "hot" day.

Posted by: wank | Jul 24 2005 10:57 utc | 23

They murdered an innocent Brazilian for wearing a heavy coat and for running.

But Ken Livingstone, London's Mayor, said the 'human tragedy' should be laid at the door of the terrorists.

'All Londoners will wish to offer their condolences to this man's family and friends,' he said. 'The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public. This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility.'

For which the terrorists bear responsibility?!?!?!

Posted by: catlady | Jul 24 2005 17:36 utc | 24

THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON - London's Amadou Diallo Case

It should not be hard to imagine that an immigrant approached by men in plainclothes and ordered to halt might get jumpy and want to take off. That's exactly what happened to Diallo.

It should not be hard to imagine that law enforcement officers, primed for whatever reason to think they see bad guys around every corner, might assume that such actions are a sign of potentially homicidal guilt on the part of the suspect. That's exectly what happened to Diallo.

The key, then, is to deal with the reasons law enforcement officers might find themselves primed to see a bad guy where there is none. And that points to the psychology of police work.

By altering the psychological state of London and it's law enforcement agencies, the terrorists have created a climate of fear that has outlived the bombers themselves. That climate has Britain at the point where police have carried out a summary executiuon of an innocent man.

In short, the terrorists have won.

It is up to clear-thinking people in Britain, the U.S., and around the globe to make sure that it is a short-lived victory.

Get your head straight.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2005 18:58 utc | 25

so lets see. we have a "Brazillian" individual in london that is executed by the cops because he was wearing a heavy coat and didn't respond to orders to stop! Right? well- temp in london was in mid 60's. And that was the predicted high! gee- considering that he was from brazil might he not have been doing too well in adjusting to uk weather! Nah- couldn't be a good enough reason for the trigger happy, obviously not too experienced coppers to blow him away! Nah!!!!!
Hey sheeple- it is just gonna get worse, not better. Oh well-- mistah charlie- considering what the aussies continue to do to their "native" population................

Posted by: bill | Jul 24 2005 20:00 utc | 26

to be clear where my own sympathies lie, i find i agree completely with the following views posted here originally by b:

By altering the psychological state of London and it's law enforcement agencies, the terrorists have created a climate of fear that has outlived the bombers themselves. That climate has Britain at the point where police have carried out a summary executiuon of an innocent man.

In short, the terrorists have won.

It is up to clear-thinking people in Britain, the U.S., and around the globe to make sure that it is a short-lived victory.

Get your head straight.

and a further comment - who is guilty of a more heinous crime against humanity - the coppers who killed this brazilian in a case of mistaken identity, in the heat of hot pursuit (although it was below 70 degrees fahrenheit at the time, apparently) - or the blair and bush gangs, who made a cold-blooded decision to wage mass murder in iraq? the question answers itself, in my opinion

Posted by: mistah charley | Jul 25 2005 12:52 utc | 27

M Charley, you are assuming that five point-blank shots into the head of a down man from a silenced sidearm is an accident. Glad you're not on my police force.

It was an execution plain and simple, and they knew who the guy was too. Why else execute him?

Posted by: rapt | Jul 25 2005 14:52 utc | 28

Dont play with me boy

Posted by: Brad Pitt | Jul 26 2005 19:57 utc | 29

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