De Menezes coroner slams police conduct

THE coroner in the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest made damning criticisms on Wednesday of the way the police had investigated his killing.

Coroner Sir Michael Wright highlighted a string of flaws at Scotland Yard after officers’ accounts of the shooting were sensationally rejected last year.

The Rule 43 report that he sent to Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith expressed his concern that officers had been allowed to work on their accounts together “for a period of many hours” after the shooting at Stockwell underground station in July 2005.

Mr Wright complained: “There was a stark difference between their experience and the treatment of civilians, who were required to give their accounts promptly and independently.

“Officers were not cross-examined on the basis that their evidence was the product of independent recollection.”

His report follows a three-month inquest at the Oval cricket ground, which ended in December after jurors dismissed Scotland Yard’s claim that the killing had been lawful.

The jury accepted the evidence of passengers that officers had not shouted “armed police” before opening fire and it disputed police claims that the innocent Brazilian had walked towards officers before being killed.

It concluded that six police failings had caused or contributed to Mr de Menezes’s death.

But the Justice4Jean campaign group warned that the report had failed to tackle the “shoot-to-kill” debate.

“If an armed officer has no intelligence or other information that tells him that the suspect has the means to detonate a bomb, he must issue a challenge or we risk repeat killings by the police.

“A proper public debate about the ‘shoot-to kill’ policy is now long overdue.”

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