De Menezes 'shot because of his threatening manner'

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The Independent Online

Jean Charles de Menezes was killed because he acted in an "aggressive and threatening manner" when challenged, a lawyer for the Metropolitan Police has said.

Ronald Thwaites QC, told an Old Bailey jury yesterday that the innocent Brazilian was behaving in the way that would have been expected of a suicide bomber.

The 27-year-old may have failed to comply with officers who challenged him because he thought he had drugs in his pocket, Mr Thwaites suggested. His death was a "terrible accident", but was not the fault of the Metropolitan Police, he added.

Mr Thwaites said prosecutors should never have brought the case against the force and accused them of "dirty tricks".

The Met is on trial accused of a "catastrophic" series of errors leading to the death of Mr de Menezes, on 22 July 2005, at Stockwell Tube station. It denies a single charge under health and safety legislation. He was shot seven times by specialist firearms officers who mistook him for the would-be suicide bomber Hussain Osman.

In his closing speech to the jury, Mr Thwaites said: "[Mr de Menezes] was shot because when challenged by police ... he did not comply with them but reacted precisely as they had been briefed a suicide bomber might react at the point of detonating his bomb. Furthermore, he looked like the suspect and behaved suspiciously."

Mr Thwaites added: "Not only did he not comply, he moved in a very aggressive and threatening manner as interpreted by the police and as would be interpreted by you and me in those circumstances, less than 24 hours after an attempt to bomb the Underground and a bus had taken place."

He criticised the treatment of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who was gold commander of the police operation on the day, saying her integrity had been called into question. "I think she has been treated as badly as a common criminal," Mr Thwaites said.

Turning to the specialist CO19 firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes, he added: "These are not trigger-happy gunslingers in CO19, ready to shoot anybody and everybody, with an itchy trigger finger. These officers can, and do, show restraint, and use their weapons only with reasonable cause and as a last resort."

The trial continues.