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If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fatal London bombing shooting shows why Iraqi insurgency continues to gain strength

Original Blog

London fatal shooting: Unreliable witness statements dissuaded needed law enforcement oversight.

It's always interesting to compare the subsequent investigation reports to the initial news.

Everyone applauded thinking, "Hooray, they caught someone who was being stupid," and "Oh, there's every reason for extreme force; it's completely understandable what the police did."

Small problem. Everything we were led to believe was wrong.

He has a name: Jean Charles de Menezes and he apparently had no idea he was being chased.

Big picture issues

  • Who were these people providing details that supported the initial police version?

  • How can we apply these lessons to the 9-11 "eyewitness accounts" corroborating the government version of what happened?


    When we first heard about the Stockwell Tube shooting, we were told that the suspect was acting suspicious, jumped over a real, and was wearing a heavy coat.

    The Londoner they shot eight times in the head at Stockwell Tube station according to ITV

    A. Was not wearing a heavy coat, as first reported;

    B. Did not jump over the turn stiles, as first reported; and

    C. Was not acting in a suspicious manner.

    Here's a nice run down of the contrasts


  • Witness assert that police did not identify themselves, contrary to what the police stated

  • Coat was appropriate for the weather

  • CCTV images show him using a travel card, not leaping over the turnstailes, contradicting eyewitness accounts/statements on conduct

    Let's use a logic tree

    If the ITV report is true,

    A. Then this police document is allegedly false official statement, as police failed to identify themselves:

    "Almost simultaneously armed officers were provided with positive identification."

    A member of the surveillance team is quoted in the report. He said: "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 officers. I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side.Ref

    B. Then this is allegedly false and misleading:
    At Stockwell Station, armed officers opened fire on the suspect after he hurdled a ticket barrier and raced along a platform.Ref
    C. Then this witness allegedly made a false and misleading statement:
    Witness Mark Whitby was on the train as he saw a big man wearing a large coat and "looking absolutely petrified" lurch through the doors.
    "They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him - he's dead," one witness, Mark Whitby, told the BBC.

    He said the man, who wore a baseball cap and a thick, padded coat, did not look like he was carrying anything. "He looked left and right, he looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox, he looked absolutely petrified."
    D. This witness may have made a misleading statement:
    Chris Wells, 28, said: "There were at least 20 of them [officers] and they were carrying big black guns ... The next thing I saw was this guy jump over the barriers and the police officers were chasing after him and everyone was just shouting 'get out, get out!"' Ref

    E. Then, Mark Whitby, apparently made an inappropriate conclusion, which was inappropriately incorporated as a fact:

    Mr Whitby, who was about five metres away, said the man tripped to the ground then police held him and shot him in the head. He said the dead man's coat "looked out of place in the hot humid weather".Ref

    F. Then, Rob Mill's assessment about someone being "paranoid" appears to be unreasonable and was inappropriately cited/incorporated as fact:
    A witness to the police shooting, Rob Mills, said the man got on the train and sat next to him. "He seemed very uncomfortable and a little bit paranoid. It made me feel uncomfortable. I considered moving but I thought, 'don't be stupid'."Ref
    This looks as though someone is projecting their own insecurities onto another's actions.

    G. Then, again, Mark Whitby's assessment about being "petrified" is apparently not supportable or justified:
    "They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him - he's dead," one witness, Mark Whitby, told the BBC.

    He said the man, who wore a baseball cap and a thick, padded coat, did not look like he was carrying anything. "He looked left and right, he looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox, he looked absolutely petrified."Ref

    H. Then, Anthony Larkin has allegedly imagined something that didn't exist:

    Another passenger on the train, Anthony Larkin, told BBC News the man appeared to be wearing a "bomb belt with wires coming out". Ref

    I. Then, Sir Ian Blair's official public statement is allegedly unsupportable, premature, and not supported by the facts:

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said he understood "the man was challenged and refused to obey police instructions".Ref

    How could the post-incident public debate be so wrong?>

    It remains to be understood how many "shoot the head" orders; or NYC surveillance/intrusion efforts were based on bogus assessments.

    Remember, the NYC leaked the information on the bombs. IT's curious to find out how much law enforcement used the incorrect version of the story to justify:

    1. Getting more blank checks for random searches, that would otherwise be opposed;

    2. More liberal oversight of what should be greater scrutiny;

    3. Silencing those who speak out against the extreme measures the public is required to assent to on the New York and DC subways.


    We are reminded how unreliable some witnesses can be. There is a danger to blindly granting law enforcement more power when all the facts are not known.

    There may have been some policies and procedures implemented that are not supportable by what actually happened at Stockwell.

    It would be prudent to explore "how the original version of the story" was inappropriately embraced as "justification" for increasing intrusions into citizens exercising their rights.


    The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, who is in London, has suggested he will follow their lead. "We intend to look very carefully at what the British do," he told BBC Radio 4.Ref

    Unreasonable basis for grave, imminent threat assessment


    Lesson for 9-11 researchers

    Witness will see/not see things that are illusory/obvious. The post-incident events can make people assign causation, motive, intent to benign behavior.


    Do we have "fellow citizens" informing the police of what is "appropriate and inappropriate" behavior and dress? Curious, as I'm not clear that Whitby is necessarily trained in "appropriate dress," and the actual facts suggest that the jacket actually worn was reasonable attaire.

    Let's hope various fashion magazines do not hire fashion commentators who:

  • make unsupportable statements on what is appropriate or inappropriate attaire; or

  • use those conclusions as the basis for justifying deadly force for being improperly dressed; or

  • grant to law enforcement greater powers than is reasonable or justified.

    Other accounts

    Observer: Death in Stockwell: the unanswered questions Tony Thompson and Tom Phillips in Brazil Sunday August 14, 2005 The Observer

    He wasn't wearing a heavy jacket. He used his card to get into the station. He didn't vault the barrier. And now police say there are no CCTV pictures to reveal the truth. So why did plainclothes officers shoot young Jean Charles de Menezes seven times in the head, thinking he posed a terror threat?

    Witness reliability vs CCTV

    Now that you've read the above, do you believe witnesses, government solutions, and media accounts of what happened?

    To completely floor you with absurdity, consider contrary media claims that there were no CCTV tapes, and that the witnesses would have to be relied upon. Ref.

    Who was actually wearing the heavy jacket, and jumping over turn stiles?

    Let's presume the witnesses actually did see "someone wearing a heavy jacket" and "jumping over turnstailes". Who could these people be?

    Some have speculated that they were actually in law enforcement.

    OK. So let's ask the question:

    A. Why was someone in law enforcement "wearing plain clothes" [hoping to avoid getting attention], but apparently wearing a "heavy coat" [and calling attention to him/herself]?

    B. Why are law enforcement violating the laws [not paying to enter], then engaging in criminal conduct [shooting an innocent person], but then not returning to ensure the media/public have the correct information?

    C. Are we to presume that anyone in law enforcement who "fails to blend in" or "fails to correct the record" is not a model citizen worthy of accolades?

    D. Given the law enforcement were apparently engaging in the "wearing large coats" and "jumping over turn stiles," will there be ground rules to say, "It's OK if the public does/doesn't get alarmed by this behavior, even though there is no way of knowing who these people are?"

    E. Are we going to monitor these individuals [who may turn out to be police] who are acting in a suspicious way: Wearing heavy coats, jumping over turnstailes, apparently not fully and timely cooperating with the independent police oversight and civilian commissions?

    I'm all for combating crime. Even when the "indicators of suspicious behavior" are within the ranks of law enforcement.

    Lessons of Ireland and Israel

    One of the arguments law enforcement uses to "justify" the measures is that the "lessons learned" from Israel and Ireland teach law enforcement how to approach the issues.

    Let's consider to what extent:

  • Local populations reasonably resist abuse and unlawful conduct;

  • "apparently factless-law enforcement actions" were used in Northern Ireland and Israel which reasonably would prompt reasonable local nationals in both Northern Ireland and the occupied territories to use violence in response?

  • American and UK troops are using the same "approaches" in Iraq.

    We should have no reason to be surprised why the Iraqi insurgency is gaining strength.