THE POLICE MAN in charge of the operation that killed innocent Jean Charles De Menezes, thinking he was a terrorist, has told a court the Met ‘did our best’.
“I have since that time constantly thought about what other potential tactics or strategy might have been available to me,” Commander John McDowell told the Old Bailey yesterday. “I remain of the view that I and we did our best that morning.”
Apart from the slaying of an innocent man in cold blood, that “best” included McDonnell’s team taking four hours to get the squad of trained marksmen to the scene in Stockwell.
If they had been quicker and arrived at De Menezes’s flat, it is likely the young Brazilian would have been questioned and still be alive today. The delay meant the hit-squad arrived when De Menezes was entering Stockwell tube station, by which time it was deemed unsafe, due to crowds, to apprehend the suspect.
Nevertheless, it was the “quickest time that that team could be assembled and deployed” McDonnell said at the trial of the Met under Health and Safety laws.
There was a possible chink of light for those lined up in the anti-shoot-to-kill camp. “With public safety paramount and the positive identification of a suicide bomber, we’d do our utmost to detain that person,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Timothy White, another officer involved in the case who gave evidence in court.
The case continues.