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Teflon top cop evades justice, responsibility

Menezes Met trial unsatisfactory on all counts

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Comment So the verdict's in. No one police officer - nor any identifiably-small group of police - was to blame for the mistaken shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005. Rather, the entire 30,000-strong Metropolitan force have all been found guilty - and, rather comically, "fined" £175k.

Needless to say, London plods won't be chipping in to pay the fine and associated legal costs. Rather, the money will come mainly from London taxpayers - which is ironic, as working Londoners are the very group which the Met have been found guilty of endangering.

One might argue that council and national taxes won't increase as a result of this, which is true enough. From that viewpoint, then, Londoners will lose some policing that the £0.56m+ Met bill for this could have bought.

So, essentially, we Londoners have been punished because some policemen messed up. Thanks a lot, legal system.

Should the plods have pled guilty? A lot of people are saying so, including some senior Met figures if you believe the Guardian. It would surely have minimised the cost to the taxpayers. One might argue that the trial has usefully brought out the facts of the case, but word has it that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will soon release its full report anyway, and there is a public inquest set for next year too. Not to mention de Menezes' family, who are apparently to mount a civil lawsuit.

Some people, including Red Ken the people's mayor, reckon the verdict will paralyse the armed plods in future - they'll never dare to shoot, runs the reasoning, in case there's another trial like this one.

"I think this is disastrous," said Ken.

"If an armed police officer believes they are in pursuit of a terrorist who might be a suicide bomber and they start making these sort of calculations based on this, how is this going to be seen? Am I going to be hauled off to court?"

Given that the officers who shot de Menezes have suffered absolutely no consequences from this trial - indeed, were not "hauled off to court" even to testify - that seems pretty silly.

Indeed, nobody is really suggesting that armed coppers believing themselves to be sharing a crowded Tube carriage with an identified suicide bomber - as the officers in question had been told they were - could really do anything other than shoot the suspect in the head as fast as possible, and keep shooting until they were sure he wouldn't so much as twitch ever again.

Birmingham tac-plods who chose in a similar situation to put 20,000 volts of Taser shock into their suspect's torso area must have been horrifyingly ignorant of explosives. Most terrorist bombs are triggered electrically, and it's standard bomb-disposal practice to minimise even quite minor risks like radio transmissions around them. Firing a kilovolt stun current into direct contact with a suspected bomb verges on criminal lunacy.

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