The Metropolitan police have pleaded not guilty to breaching health and safety laws over the death of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005.
Mr Menezes was mistaken for a suspected suicide bomber
Mr Menezes was shot eight times after he was mistaken for a suicide bomber.
The plea was heard at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. The case is now likely to be sent for trial at the Old Bailey some time next year.
The Crown Prosecution Service said in July there was insufficient evidence to charge individual officers.
The Met's solicitor advocate Mark Scroggins indicated a plea of not guilty to one offence under Sections 3 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The charges allege the force breached its duty to non-employees over the shooting of the innocent Brazilian at Stockwell Tube station.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said the decision to defend the case was reached "after the most careful consideration".
Commander Moir Stewart, co-ordinator of the MPS, said: "It is not about diminishing the tragedy of Charles de Menezes' death. We see it as a test case, not only for policing in London but for the police service nationally."
He told BBC News: "It also has implications for the general public in that it concerns the ability of the police service to protect the public at large when carrying out armed operations."
Commander Stewart said the service "profoundly questioned" whether health and safety at work legislation was right for evaluating an emergency service's actions in "relation to decisions made during fast-time, life-at-risk anti-terrorist policing operation".
Mr Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder at Stockwell station by police in the aftermath of the failed 21 July 2005 bomb attacks on the Underground.