Scotland Yard marksmen who shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes did not identify themselves as police officers before opening fire, according to three witnesses who saw the Brazilian electrician being killed.
The evidence, given by passengers who were in the same Tube train carriage as Mr de Menezes when he was shot on 22 July 2005, contradicts statements made by the Metropolitan Police. Both of the armed officers who shot Mr de Menezes have told the inquest they shouted "armed police" before firing. This claim has also been corroborated by other officers who were on the train on the day Mr de Menezes was killed.
But yesterday three witnesses said they heard no such shout. Their testimonies appear to lend weight to the accusation levelled by Michael Mansfield QC, representing Mr de Menezes' family, earlier in the week that the Metropolitan Police officers have "embellished", "exaggerated" and "lied" during their evidence.
Ralph Livock and his girlfriend Rachel Wilson were sitting opposite Mr de Menezes, 27, in the Tube carriage at Stockwell station in south London on 22 July, the inquest heard. Mr Livock recalled that the train was held up at the station, when four men, casually dressed and carrying guns, got on board and shot Mr de Menezes seven times in the head at point blank range. Asked by Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest, whether the men had said anything about being police officers before opening fire, Mr Livock said: "No, certainly not.
"And I remember that specifically because one of the conversations that Rachel and I had afterwards was that we had no idea whether these were police, whether they were terrorists, whether they were somebody else. We just had no idea."
When Mr Hilliard asked Ms Wilson, "Did you ever hear anybody shout 'armed police'?", she answered, "If I had heard that, I would have thought they were police, so no". Asked the same question later, she again insisted that no one had shouted "armed police" adding: "That's one of the things I recall the most – the silence."
The couple said they initially thought the officers were pranksters playing a game. Mr Livock said: "One of my initial thoughts was it was all a game and they were a group of lads who were just having a laugh – a very bad taste laugh, but just having a game on the Tube, because they were just dressed in jeans and T-shirts but with firearms. The thing that made me realise it wasn't a group of lads playing around or something else happening was when the first shot was fired." Ms Wilson added: "I thought they were messing around. Then I thought they were terrorists and it was only when I left the carriage and somebody moved me gently out of the way that I figured they must be good guys. Apart from that, I just didn't know who they were."
Mr Livock described the moments just before Mr de Menezes was killed. "He looked as if he was expecting somebody to say something but he didn't look frightened," he said. "He looked as if he was waiting for somebody to tell him what was going on."
Another commuter, Wesley Merrill, told the court he saw a man come on to the train and point at Mr de Menezes, saying "that's the guy". He said he could not recall any of the officers saying anything to Mr de Menezes.
Mr Mansfield has said the officers who killed Mr de Menezes did not "honestly and genuinely" believe the Brazilian electrician was an immediate threat at the time they pulled the trigger. He says they are embellishing their version of events in statements and evidence in order to convince people that they believed Mr de Menezes was a suicide bomber.
The officers have denied this, with one, codenamed C5, saying: "I don't think anyone was callous enough to think they would write themselves out of trouble."
The inquest, at the Oval, in south London, continues.
Speaking with one voice: What the officers said
Delta9 (firearms officer): "I could hear people shouting 'armed police'"
Ken (surveillance officer): "I heard 'armed police' shouted loudly"
Ivor (surveillance officer): "I could hear shouting"
Geoff (surveillance officer): "I then heard shouting from the direction of the open doors which included the word 'police'"
C5 (firearms officer): "I heard shouts of 'armed police'"
C12 (one of the two firearms officers who shot Mr de Menezes): "I did challenge 'armed police'"
C2 (the other firearms officer who shot Mr de Menezes): "I shouted 'armed police' and I held my handgun to the head of the subject and I fired"