A tragic update to this story from AP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
LONDON – Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and said Saturday they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.
Friday’s shooting before horrified commuters prompted criticism of police for overreacting and expressions of fear that Asians and Muslims would be targeted by a “trigger-happy culture” after two well-coordinated attacks in two weeks.
It still appears that this man understood English and did not stop when police ordered him to do so. His death is a tragedy, but in a time when bombers are targeting London, not “trigger-happy” or inexplicable.
Police expressed regret for the death of the man at the Stockwell subway station, identified Saturday as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him about five times in the head and torso.
Hours after the shooting, Police Commissioner Ian Blair said the victim was “directly linked” to the investigations into attacks Thursday and July 7. In the latter, suicide bombings on trains and a bus killed 56 people, including four attackers.
Now I would like to know why he said that, although perhaps it was only because of this:
Police initially said the victim attracted police attention because he left a house that was under surveillance after Thursday’s bungled bombings, in which devices planted on three subway trains and a double-decker bus failed to detonate properly. Stockwell is near Oval station, one of those targeted.
“He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions,” police said Friday.
But Saturday, a police official said on condition of anonymity that Menezes was “not believed to be connected in any way to any of the London bombings.”
“For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets,” a spokesman said on condition of anonymity, which is police policy.
However, police did not explain what went wrong or say whether Menezes had done anything illegal.
In Brazil, the Foreign Ministry said it was “shocked and perplexed” by the death of Menezes, whom it did not name but described as “apparently the victim of a lamentable mistake.”
The ministry said it expected British authorities to explain the circumstances of the shooting, and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim would try to arrange a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a visit to London.
Brazilian media reported that Menezes was an electrician who had been legally living and working in England for the past three years. He originally came from the small city of Gonzaga, some 500 miles northeast of Sao Paulo in the state of Minas Gerais.
“He spoke English very well, and had permission to study and work there,” Menezes’ cousin Maria Alves told the O Globo Online Web site from her home in Sao Paulo.
Menezes’ family was Roman Catholic. When asked if he had become Muslim in Britain, Agostino Ferreira Rosa, a policeman in Gonzaga said: “According to his family, he had nothing to do with Muslims or Islamism. He was Catholic.”