The firearms police who shot Jean Charles de Menezes dead in a tube carriage at Stockwell ‘gave no warning’, a passenger on the train told the inquest into the death of the young Brazilian yesterday.
Firearms officers claimed there were several warning shouts of ‘armed police’ before shots were fired, but commuter Ralph Livock giving evidence to the inquest at the Oval cricket ground, south London, said when the killing took place he had ‘no idea’ the men who fired the fatal shots on 22 July 2005 were police.
this was the first time any of the witnesses who were in the carriage at the time of de Menezes’ killing have given evidence about what they saw.
None of the passengers in the Tube train on the day of the killing were called to give evidence at the Metropolitan Police’s health and safety trial last year.
Passenger Livock said he and his girlfriend Rachel Wilson were ‘sitting opposite’ de Menezes in a Tube carriage the day the young man was executed.
He recalled: ‘We had no idea whether these were police – whether they were terrorists.’
He said the train had been held up for a little while until four armed and casually dressed men boarded the train.
Giving evidence Livock said: ‘I initially thought they were a group of lads who were just having a laugh, because they were just dressed in jeans and T-shirts.’
He was asked by Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest: ‘Did you have any idea who they were?’ Livock replied: ‘Absolutely not.’
Hilliard then asked: ‘Had you heard anything said about police?’ Livock said: ‘No, certainly not.
‘I remember that specifically because one of the conversations that Rachel and I had afterwards was that we had no idea whether these were police, whether they were terrorists, whether they were somebody else.
‘The thing that made me realise it wasn’t a group of lads playing around or something else happening was when the first shot was fired.’
Livock said he had heard shouts from outside the carriage, saying something like ‘he’s in here’.
A few seconds later, a man boarded the train aiming a pistol at de Menezes’ head, but Livock said de Menezes ‘did not say anything’.
‘He looked as if he was expecting somebody to say something but he did not look frightened.’
Livock repeated: ‘He looked as if he was waiting for somebody to tell him what was going on.’
During cross questioning on Monday, one of the officers who shot Jean Charles had denied grossly exaggerating his account of the shooting.
He insisted ‘I did challenge “armed police”.’
Counsel for the De Menezes family, Michael Mansfield put it to the officer known as C12: ‘I want to give you another opportunity, and it may be your last opportunity, to face a certain reality that you shot an innocent man who you had not properly assessed, who you never gave a chance to because you were consumed with the thought of what he might have done the previous day’.
‘Now is that possible?’
C12 replied: ‘It’s not possible at all, sir. I did challenge “armed police”.’
Mansfield pointed out that six other officers in the tube carriage had made no mention of a warning being shouted in their statements or evidence. He added that, furthermore, none of the 17 civilian passengers in the tube carriage had heard such a warning shouted.
Mansfield continued his cross examination: ‘I am going to make it plain that what you did when it came to making a statement the following day was to grossly exaggerate what you saw in order to convince people that he had been a terrorist about to explode a bomb, in your mind.
‘Is there any possibility you did that ?’
C12 replied: ‘Absolutely none whatsoever. No’.