Michael Wright, a retired high court judge, also instructed the jury not to attach any criminal or civil fault to individual cops. The jury was left with two options: open verdict or upholding the killing as lawful.
By an 8-2 vote, jurors returned an open verdict December 12. The term means there was not enough evidence to decide the cause of death.
Wright condemned a silent protest by the de Menezes family, which sought to inform the jurors that they had the legal right to return an unlawful killing verdict. Three family members stood up in court displaying T-shirts bearing the message, Your legal right to decideunlawful killing verdict. Wright said, Its quite wrong for anyone to seek to put pressure on a jury.
De Menezes, a 27-year-old worker of Brazilian origin, was pinned down and shot at point-blank range by cops while he sat on a Tube (underground) train.
The police claimed he was suspected in bombings here two weeks earlier on trains and a bus that killed more than 50 people. The day before he was shot, there had been a failed bombing attempt.
At first, then Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair claimed that de Menezes was directly linked to the failed bombing attempt. Police also claimed that he had acted suspiciously, was wearing a padded jacket, and had vaulted the London Underground pay turnstiles. This soon turned out to be false. The police then changed their tune, stating that de Menezes was not a suspect and his death was a tragedy.
Contrary to arguments advanced by the police, the jury found that de Menezes was not acting suspiciously and was not moving toward a cop when the shooting began. Jurors also rejected the police story that they had shouted armed police before opening fire.
No individual cop has been prosecuted for the de Menezes killing. A trial was held last year in which the police were found guilty of endangering the public by breaching health and safety laws. They were fined £175,000 (US$260,000). Cressida Dick, who led the police operation, was explicitly exonerated in the trial. She has since been promoted to deputy assistant commissioner.
In evidence to the inquest, one of the copsidentified as Owenstated that Dick had given the instruction for a hard stop in relation to the pursuit of de Menezes. A hard stop is an aggressive stop, Owen clarified. Its not an official term but it is an aggressive stop.
Anna Dunwoodie, who was at the time of the killing sitting two seats away from de Menezes, presented evidence at the inquest. Her testimony gave the lie to police claims that de Menezes was doing anything threatening or suspicious. She said she was most frightened by a man she later discovered to be the police surveillance officer on the train.
The government and its police forces have sought to use bombing incidents to try to legitimize increased cop powers and other attacks on the rights of working people, including the shoot-to-kill policy and tightened border controls. The government is also seeking to extend police pre-charge detention powers to 42 days. The cops currently have the right to detain suspects for 28 days before charging them.
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