Up to 15 police officers may face charges over Menezes shooting

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The Independent Online

About 15 police officers could be charged in connection with the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian mistaken for a suicide bomber. The disclosure came as the Crown Prosecution Service was handed a file of evidence on several of the Metropolitan Police officers involved.

The file, naming about 15 officers, is the result of an inquiry into the shooting at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July - the day after a series of failed bomb attacks on London's transport network. Mr Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was shot seven times in the head.

Crown prosecutors will consider whether there is sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against any of the officers.

Sources close to the case have indicated, however, that it will be a major surprise if any officer ends up in court.

The family of Mr Menezes called for the police responsible to face a criminal trial. A spokeswoman for the dead man's family said: "Everything we have learnt over the last few months has strengthened our conviction that those responsible should be prosecuted. Real justice can only be found in a court of law." She said the family were disappointed that they were not allowed to read the report and remained "in the dark". She added: "We believed that at least we would be able to read the final report. The victims of this tragedy are the last to know."

Alex Pereira, Mr Menezes's cousin, said he had not trusted the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which conducted the inquiry, from the outset. "I told them straight away, 'I do not trust you, make sure you surprise me at the end'," he said. "They have not surprised us, it was what I was expecting."

The decision by the IPCC to send a file to the CPS means the commission has concluded that there is evidence to suggest criminal offences may have been committed. This is a much lower threshold than that for actually bringing charges against any individual officers. The commission has consistently refused to detail the nature of the alleged offences, although it is believed they could be as serious as murder or manslaughter.

The IPCC is thought to have interviewed about 25 officers, including the chief officers responsible for activating the Kratos "shoot to kill" tactic and the surveillance officers who identified the wrong man.

The firearms team did not arrive in time to confront the suspect before he went into the Tube station because it was too far from the scene when the commanding officer called for support, it is understood.

Commander Cressida Dick, 44, was the designated senior officer responsible for the firearms unit on the day of the shooting. The two firearms officers involved in the shooting are thought to have been named in the six-month investigation. The IPCC report includes details of the communication problems between the police officers involved in the operation. This includes the failure of the officers' radios underground. The communication breakdown also meant they were unable to take orders from, or relay messages to, senior officers at Scotland Yard.

About 30 people witnessed the shooting and 600 statements were taken during the course of the investigation.

The IPCC did not begin its investigation until Wednesday 27 July - five days after Mr Menezes was shot.

Scotland Yard initially resisted the IPCC taking over the inquiry, but the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, later dismissed allegations of an attempted cover-up.

Leaked documents appeared to suggest that Mr Menezes had done little to arouse suspicion, other than to emerge from a flat that had been under surveillance. Far from vaulting a ticket barrier and running down an escalator to escape firearms officers, he walked into the station at a normal pace and even paused to pick up a newspaper, the documents said. Witness reports that he was wearing a bulky coat that added to suspicions were also incorrect, they revealed.

Mr Menezes's family have not received a copy but will be briefed on its contents.

The CPS is likely to take several months to reach a decision on whether to charge any of the officers.