So Jean Charles de Menezes was killed because he acted in an ‘aggressive and threatening manner’ when challenged, according to the Metropolitan Police lawyer Ronald Thwaites QC.
Thwaites has already tried to suggest that faint traces of cocaine in De Menezes’ urine were the cause of ‘abnormal or unusual behaviour’, justifying officers pumping seven bullets into his head and neck from point-blank range. Now he’s told the Old Bailey jury hearing the health and safety prosecution of the Met that De Menezes was behaving in a way that would have been expected of a suicide bomber.
The attempt to pass the blame for an appalling police cock-up onto the innocent victim is not just a squalid injustice in its own right. It also carries the implication that in the same circumstances the police would do the same again. I think most of us could forgive the ‘catastrophic series of errors’ (in the prosecution’s words) that led to the shooting of De Menezes given the immediate context of the July 2005 London bombings. But if Thwaites and the police get away with this line of argument, we’re being asked to accept that any behaviour that the police deem to be ‘suspicious’ could be justification for further shootings in future.