Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Menezes police 'gave no warning'

Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station

Armed police fired on Jean Charles de Menezes without shouting any warning, witnesses have claimed at an inquest.

Passenger Rachel Wilson said she thought the officers were terrorists when they shot dead the Brazilian at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July 2005.

Firearms officers have told the inquest there were several warning shouts of "armed police" before shots were fired.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was killed by police who mistook him for one of the failed 21 July 2005 London bombers.

'Covered in blood'

The inquest has been told a surveillance officer had positively identified the electrician as Hussain Osman.

She and her boyfriend Ralph Livock had been sitting opposite Mr de Menezes in a Tube carriage on the day of the shooting when officers boarded, the inquest was told.

Ms Wilson said nothing had been said to alert her that the men were plain-clothes officers and that she initially thought they were just messing around.

We had no idea whether these were police - whether they were terrorists
Ralph Livock

"Then I thought they were terrorists and it was only when I left the carriage and somebody moved me gently out of the way that I figured they must be good guys," Ms Wilson added.

Nicholas Hilliard QC, counsel to the inquest, asked her: "Specifically, did you ever hear anybody shout 'armed police'?"

Ms Wilson answered: "If I had heard that, I would have thought they were police, so no."

Only after the shooting, when she saw she had blood on her hands, did she realised how serious the incident was, Ms Wilson added.

'Didn't look frightened'

Mr Livock had told the inquest at the Oval cricket ground, south London, that their train was held up for longer than usual when four casually-dressed men with guns got on board.

Mr Hilliard asked: "Had you heard anything said about police?"

Mr Livock replied: "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."

Mr Livock described Mr de Menezes' reactions when an officer pointed a pistol at his head.

"He looked as if he was expecting somebody to say something but he didn't look frightened," said Mr Livock.

No passengers were called to give evidence at last year's Metropolitan Police health and safety trial over the shooting. It is the first time they have publicly revealed what they saw.

'Verbal challenges'

A firearms officer, codenamed Terry, described to the inquest how he reached the train shortly after the two marksmen who killed the Brazilian.

He said: "As I came into the carriage I could hear verbal challenges. I could hear 'police' and 'armed police' being shouted."

After hearing the evidence, the Brazilian's mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, 63, said outside the inquest: "None of the passengers heard the police give any warning or described Jean's actions as aggressive.

"It has been painful to me when police have implied he acted in a manner that contributed to his death."

The inquest was adjourned until Friday.

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