De Menezes family to quiz police

Three years after he was shot dead, his relatives come face to face with one of the men who killed him
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes will tomorrow be seeking answers from one of the police marksmen involved in the shooting of the 27-year-old Brazilian on the London Underground in July 2005.

Their barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, will cross-examine police officer "C12" at the inquest into the fateful shooting that took place at Stockwell Tube station. Questions remain over why Mr de Menezes was shot repeatedly in the head at close range while he was being pinned down in a seat on the London Underground.

Tensions are already running high at the inquest being held at the Oval cricket ground in south London.

The unnamed officer, hidden behind screens from all except the Brazilian's mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, 63, and brother, Giovani da Silva, 36, broke down in court on Friday. The Southwark coroner's inquest was adjourned while the officer left the room to compose himself. Giving evidence in public for the first time, officer C12 recalled coming face to face with the young electrician inside a cramped Tube train on 22 July 2005.

He said Mr de Menezes got up, walked towards him – and kept moving even after he shouted "armed police" and pointed his gun at him. "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."

The firearms officer said that he had "no alternative" but to kill Mr de Menezes, who had been mistaken for the failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman. "The danger we were facing, or potentially facing, would be immeasurable," he said.

Officer C12 choked back tears as he described how he shot Mr de Menezes three times, and described a scrum-like "ruck" as he pointed a gun towards the Brazilian's head while another officer, "Ivor", pinned him down.

It emerged that C12, who has more than 25 years' Metropolitan Police service, had never fired a gun at a suspect before the day he shot Mr de Menezes.

He told the family of the dead man: "I can't begin to put myself in the position that they are faced with. I am a family man myself, and to lose a son or any member of your family in this situation – I just couldn't believe it.

"I offer my sincere condolences, I really, really respectfully do that. 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."

Leaving the inquest on Friday, Mrs de Menezes said she had found it "very difficult" listening to the account of her son's death but wanted to "hear the truth".