The Guardian – November 1, 2008
A surveillance officer who was tailing Jean Charles de Menezes told the inquest into his death that his team had not positively identified him as a suspect before he was shot dead at Stockwell underground station, south London.
The inquest had previously been told by a firearms officer who shot De Menezes that a surveillance officer had made a positive identification of the Brazilian as one of the would-be suicide bombers.
The officer, identified only as Ken, told the inquest that he had tried and failed to get a clear sight of the man's face before he boarded a bus that would take him to Stockwell underground station. He said that his team leader had been asked by the police control room to give a "percentage" of how likely it was that the man they were tailing was the suspect suicide bomber they had been tracking.
"I believe he said that it was impossible to do that but 'for what it's worth, I think it's him'," said Ken. He had followed De Menezes into the underground station, down the escalators and on to a train.
He described how he indicated De Menezes to a team of armed officers who then entered the train. Ken also told the inquest that armed officers had shouted a warning of "armed police" loud enough for the young Brazilian to have heard the warning before he was shot.
The court heard earlier this week from commuters who were in the same carriage that they heard no warning from the officers
before the fatal shots were fired.
Michael Mansfield QC, who is representing the De Menezes family, told the officer: "The kernel of it is the possibility that a communication from your car about the level of identification has led to SO19 (the firearms team) being sent in."
Mansfield said that Ken might have guessed that the reason the team was being asked to give "a percentage" on the likelihood of De Menezes being the suspect was in order to assess whether to send in the specialist firearms unit.
"Was anything said to the effect of 'this is definitely our man"?" asked Mansfield.
"No sir," replied Ken.
He agreed that the man he had been following was not nervous or twitchy nor was he wearing any unusual clothing that would give cause for suspicion.
However, Ken told the inquest that, as De Menezes jumped up from his seat in the carriage as the officers approached him he seemed to do so in an "unusual" manner. He said that De Menezes appeared to be holding his hands out in front of him at the level of his torso instead of using his arms to push himself out of the seat.
Mansfield also asked Ken if his version of events was coloured by the knowledge that an innocent man had died. "Has your account been influenced by the fact that you more or less ushered firearms officers towards a target who turned out to be innocent and you have to justify that?"
Ken denied that his account had been influenced at all by anybody. "I wrote my account as best I remembered it," he told the inquest which resumes on Monday.
Last updated 05/11/2008