Police marksman: 'I thought we were going to die'

Firearms officer tells inquest of the moment he fired six shots into the head of innocent Brazilian on Tube train

A police marksman said yesterday that he shot Jean Charles de Menezes six times in the head because he believed that he, his colleagues and members of the public would die in a suicide bomb explosion if he did not.

The firearms officer, known only by the codename C2, told the jury at the inquest into the death of the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician that he killed him believing that he was a suicide bomber.

Asked by Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel for the inquest, why he had discharged so many shots, the officer replied: "At the time I fired I believed that I, and everyone else, was about to die. I was convinced this male was a suicide bomber.

"I had an honestly held belief that, unless I acted immediately, that I, and other persons present, were about to die. I formed the opinion that the only option was to shoot this male in the head and kill him instantly to prevent any detonation." The officer went on to explain that his weapon jammed while he was shooting Mr de Menezes and he had to reload the gun.

C2 was one of two officers who shot Mr de Menezes on a London Underground Tube train at Stockwell station on 22 July 2005. C2, who had never previously fired at anyone in a 17-year firearms career, added: "I ran forward, reached over the top of the surveillance officer and pushed him down. I shouted 'armed police' and held my handgun to the head of the subject and fired."

The officer said that he had only declared that he was armed after deciding to kill Mr de Menezes. Asked why he hadn't shouted this earlier he said: "I realised it was late but there were members of the public and they should know [we were] police officers."

It was not until noon the next day that C2 learnt that the person he shot was innocent. Addressing the De Menezes family at yesterday's inquest, he added: "This is very distressing for me. I respect and understand how difficult it is for them. I would like to say that I am a father and that if he were my son, I would be utterly devastated. And I would like to offer my condolences."

When cross-examined by Michael Mansfield QC, representing the De Menezes family, C2 said that he would not have done anything differently.

He added: "It is wrong because I killed an innocent man but at the time I cannot see how I could have done anything differently with what I believed to be true at that time."

C2 also told the inquest that his mind had been made up to kill the Brazilian after hearing a radio transmission from a surveillance officer who told him, "this is definitely our man". But Mr Mansfield told the jury that the surveillance officer did not recall saying this and the lawyer accused C2 of lying.

The officer responded: "I have never been so brutally honest in my life. I am not lying, sir. That is what I heard." Mr Mansfield also alleged that C2 had repeated phrases used by the other officer who fired on the Brazilian, C12, when he gave evidence to the inquest. C2 denied this.

After yesterday's evidence Mr de Menezes's mother, Maria, who was in court to listen to proceedings, accused the officer of being "very cold", adding: "He may have apologised but it certainly didn't seem like he meant it. It was not a heartfelt apology, I could tell.

"His evidence felt like he was reading from a script, it was a prepared statement. I did not feel any remorse from him."

"Their words have felt like a heavy load bearing down on me," she added. "But I force myself to stay and listen."

The inquest at the Oval, south London, continues.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee