UK prosecutors not charging Met officers in De Menezes killing

UK prosecutors not charging Met officers in De Menezes killing

[JURIST] The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) [official website] announced Friday that no charges will be filed [CPS press release] against London Metropolitan Police Service ("Met") [official website] officers involved in the shooting death of Brazilian immigrant Jean Charles de Menezes [advocacy website; BBC profile] in a London Tube station. De Menzes was shot to death by officers in July 2005 after they mistook him for terrorism suspect. The De Menezes killing occurred the day after a failed attempt to replicate the July 7, 2005 London terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive], in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people. The CPS review focused on the actions of two Met officers, identified as Charlie 2 and Charlie 12, and was initiated after a jury found the Met guilty of violating laws [JURIST report] relating to health and public safety when it shot and killed de Menezes. The CPS inquiry concluded there was insufficient evidence that any offence was committed by individual officers. In the CPS statement, Stephen O'Doherty, the reviewing lawyer from the CPS Special Crime Division, said:

The answers the jury provided to specific questions they were asked by the coroner made it clear, albeit to a civil standard, that the jury did not accept the officers’ accounts of what happened. However, although there were some inconsistencies in what the officers said at the inquest, there were also inconsistencies in what passengers had said. I concluded that in the confusion of what occurred on the day, a jury could not be sure that any officer had deliberately given a false account of events.

"I also considered the actions of the individual officers in the police management team on that day and considered whether there was sufficient evidence to charge any of them with gross negligence manslaughter. There was no fresh evidence from the inquest which caused me to change my original decision that there was insufficient evidence to do so.

An application has already been lodged [BBC report] with the European Court of Human Rights [official website] concerning prosecutions in cases where a victim is killed at the hands of the state.

The de Menezes affair has had significant impact on the Met, and led to the October 2008 resignation of Sir Ian Blair [JURIST report] from his post as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Blair cited a strained relationship with London Mayor Boris Johnson and his decision for new leadership at the Met as the leading factors in his resignation. During the 2007 trial against the Met, the prosecution argued that due to several mistakes made by London police during their botched anti-terrorism operation [BBC timeline], the public was "needlessly put at risk" [BBC report], with Menezes killed as a result. The Met was fined £175,000 with an additional £385,000 in fees. The jury said that operation commander Cressida Dick bore "no personal culpability," despite the prosecution's arguments that she was responsible for controlling her officers. Following the guilty verdict, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that Blair and the police force continued to have her "full confidence" [press release] and thanked them for their work to prevent further terrorist attacks. In August 2007, the UK Independent Police Complaints Commission [official website] issued a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] clearing Blair of any misconduct.