Scotland yard came under renewed pressure last night as doubts grew over its account of the killing of an innocent man mistaken for a suicide bomber.
Details have emerged which undermine the force’s claims that officers had no alternative but to shoot Jean Charles de Menezes.
The revelations are a blow to the Metropolitan Police, which is expected to pay more than 500,000 compensation to his family.
In the aftermath of the shooting, it was claimed that Mr de Menezes, a Brazilian, vaulted over a ticket barrier and sprinted down the escalators to escape police. The 27-tear-old electrician was also said to have refused to surrender and to have been wearing a bulky winter coat.
But it has now emerged that:
Mr de Menezes used an Oyster travel card to go through the ticket barriers.
Initially, at least, he walked to the platform.
It is believed the officers did not properly identify themselves before opening fire.
he was not wearing a heavy jacket.
It has also emerged that CCTV footage of the shooting, which could have been vital to an inquiry, will not be available because most of the security cameras at Stockwell Tube station, South London, were not working.
This will come as a severe disappointment to Mr Menezes’s family, who had hoped that security footage would prove officers had no reason to open fire. It is also likely to fuel claims that the public were misled over the events leading up to Mr Menezes’s death.
In the aftermath of the July 7 and 21 attacks in London, Police seized thousands of CCTV tapes from the capital’s Underground and rail system. The CCTV blunder at Stockwell means investigators will now have to rely on witness testimonies and the accounts of police officers.
Mr de Menezes was shot eight times – seven times in the head – on July 22.
Three plain clothes officers followed Mr de Menezes after he came out of a block of flats in Tulse Hill, South London, where police believed one of the failed July 21 bombers Lived. They tailed him for several miles before he arrived at Stockwell Tube station.
It is understood that the officers were given strict instructions that the suspect should not be allowed to get on the Underground.
When he got on a train, Mr de Menezes, who had no connection to terrorism but may well have been afraid of having to answer questions about his immigration status, was pinned down and shot. The senior officer in charge on the day of the shooting, Commander Cressida Dick will face questions about the decisions made in the run-up to the incident.
It is understood that once the officers went underground, they lost radio contact with Scotland Yard and the decision to open fire had to be taken by the pursuers. The First Commander Dick knew of the shooting was a terse radio message which said: ‘Man down.’
The Independent Police Complains Commission is investigating Mr de Menezes’s death. Sources close to the case say the operation which led to the shooting was hampered by ‘communication problems and misunderstandings’ between undercover police, marksmen and senior officers.
The commission is assessing whether rules for dealing with suspected suicide bombers were complied with, and whether Mr de Menezes was killed lawfully. An inquest will also be held into the death, which has raised widespread concerns about the police’s ‘shoot to kill policy’. Insiders say the case shows guidelines for tackling suspected suicide bombers, code named Operation Kratos, are unworkable.
Kratos is based on the theory that shooting a bomber in the head is the only way to ensure his device is not detonated.
Senior police officers have described Mr de Menezes death as a ‘tragedy’ but say they have no option but to continue with the policy.
Last night, it emerged that the officer who killed Mr de Menezes is due to return to work in the next week after being sent on a free holiday by his force. The unidentified marksman will not be on frontline duties pending the outcome of the commission’s investigation.
Two weeks ago, a senior Metropolitan Police officer flew to Brazil to offer compensation to Mr de Menezes’s parents.
John Yates, a deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard is thought to have agreed to make an initial payment – running into thousands of pounds. The offer was ex-gratia, meaning it will not affect the final amount paid. Some legal experts believe the force could end up paying up to 570,000 in damages.
a London Underground spokesman last night refused to discuss the CCTV blunders at Stockwell, saying he was unable to comment on individual stations for security reasons.