Family hear De Menezes marksman tell of shooting

A police marksman today recalled the moment he became convinced that Jean Charles de Menezes was a suicide bomber about to detonate his device.

The officer from Scotland Yard's elite CO19 specialist firearms unit, identified only as C12, said he believed he had to act to stop an atrocity.

He told an inquest how he came face to face with Mr de Menezes inside a cramped Tube train at Stockwell Tube station in south London on July 22 2005.

C12 recalled that the innocent Brazilian got up and walked towards him - and kept moving even after he shouted "armed police" and pointed his gun at him.

He said: "He continued on his forward momentum towards me.

"It was at that stage that I just formed the opinion that he's going to detonate, he's going to kill us and I have to act now in order to stop this from happening."

Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head at point-blank range after being mistaken for failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman.

C12 choked back tears as he described how he shot Mr de Menezes three times because he believed he was "going to detonate, going to kill us".

He recalled a scrum-like "ruck" as he pointed a gun towards Mr de Menezes's head while surveillance officer Ivor pinned the Brazilian down.

He said: "I brought the handgun up from my leg and pointed it up to shoulder level.

"He (Ivor) immediately grappled him into his seat.

"It just reconfirmed to me that I had to use force as soon as possible.

"If there was any alternative, you must believe me, I would have taken it but I did not have any alternative.

"I did not believe I had an alternative and if I did not act, members of the public would be killed.

"My colleagues would be killed and I would be killed. I had a duty to protect the public."

He said his Glock pistol was next to Ivor's head as he opened fire.

He said: "We were all together and it was a bit of ruck...

"As Ivor got hold of him, I am virtually on the top of Ivor bringing my weapon up.

"I remember the gun coming into contact with Ivor's head in order to get to Mr de Menezes.

"I do not know how close it was. I honestly believed this man to be a suicide bomber."

C12 was asked why he shot Mr de Menezes three times.

He replied: "I had to be certain that life was extinct, that there wasn't any more threat, that this person couldn't detonate a bomb.

"Our training is, or has been, that a critical shot is a single shot, probably to the base of the skull, which will cause instant paralysis.

"I was not in a position to get there to do that. I fired the number of shots because I detected moments, albeit it might have been movement caused by the bullets."

C12 also said he would not have fired at Mr de Menezes if he had remained seated or if he had stopped approaching him when he shouted "armed police".

The inquest was halted briefly after C12 became distressed by his recollections and could not continue.

When it resumed, he recalled being "covered in blood" after the shooting.

He and C2, the other firearms officer who shot Mr de Menezes, checked each other to ensure they had not been wounded in the incident.

C12 described his feelings when he learned the next day that the man he shot was not Osman.

He told the inquest: "A sense of disbelief and of shock, sadness, confusion.

"Everything I have ever trained for - for threat assessment, seeing threats, perceiving threats and acting on threats - proved wrong.

"And I am responsible for the death of an innocent man. That is something I have got to live with for the rest of my life."

The inquest was adjourned until Monday, when C12 will be cross-examined by the Menezes family's barrister, Michael Mansfield QC.

Mr de Menezes' mother, Maria Otone, held back tears as she emerged from the hearing. Via her translator, Mrs de Menezes, who lives in Brazil, said hearing today's evidence had been "very difficult".

Flanked by her elder son, Giovani da Silva, she said: "It's been very difficult for us to listen to everything that's been said, but we want to be here every day because we want to hear the truth.

"I feel very strong and I have been brave and all this strength has been coming from God."

Suggested Topics
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits