Police shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes was lawful, rules ECHR

An undated family picture shows Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes © Menezes family
Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights has ruled it was ‘right not to charge’ police over the 2005 shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles De Menezes.

Brazilian electrician De Menezes died in 2005 after he was pinned down by police on a London train and shot 11 times. Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights ruled on Wednesday that the killing was lawful. 

The shooting took place nearly 11 years ago in the tense days following the 7/7 terror attacks in which 56 Londoners died.

De Menezes, 27, was pursued by armed police into Stockwell Underground Station, South London, on July 22, 2005. They allegedly believed he was a terrorist fugitive.

The electrician, who lived in the same block of flats as several of the 7/7 bombers, was shot 11 times at close range.

In a case brought by the deceased’s cousin Patricia Armani Da Silva in 2008, the court ruled the officers involved could not be charged with his murder. 

She is challenging an earlier ruling by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which said none of the officers should face charges.

A 2006 report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) suggested a number of command mistakes had led to the killing. It identified several instances that may constitute criminal acts, including gross negligence and murder.

However, the CPS decided not to press charges at the time, saying there was a low possibility of conviction.

A 2008 inquest rejected the official account of the killing, but returned an open verdict arguing it was not within the power of the jury to push for unlawful killing prosecutions.

Mystery still surrounds the involvement of a shadowy military Special Forces unit called the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) in the events leading up to the killing.

The unit had been tailing De Menezes. But in the immediate aftermath of the killing Whitehall sources told the Guardian their roles had been purely surveillance, and that there was “no direct military involvement in the shooting.

The case rests on the family’s belief that the lethal force applied was unnecessary because there was no evidence against De Menezes.