Mansfield got to cross examine C12 today for the family-
The officer, codenamed C12, claimed he shouted “armed police” and only opened fire after Mr deMenezes moved towards him looking like he was about to blow himself up. But none of six other police officers who were within yards of the shooting heard the marksman issue any warning, an inquest heard.
C12 admitted that a series of errors and mistaken “assumptions” led to the shooting and that he himself had been in a position to detain Mr de Menezes before he got into the station. He described sitting in an unmarked car within “striking distance”, less than 100 metres away, when Mr de Menezes got off a bus near the station entrance. But he failed to receive a series of instructions from commanders because radio communications were “awful”.
His superiors did not even know he was there and he had failed to tell them, the inquest heard. C12 said: “Why I did not tell them where I was I just cannot tell you. I was trying to listen to the radio, I had a lot going on, and if that is an error then I apologise for it.”
The officer said he did not have with him a picture of the suspect and he didn’t know definitely what he looked like. He also didn’t know that surveillance officers had already gone in to the Tube or where they were. He had picked up snippets of information from his malfunctioning radio and by mobile phone from colleagues. One of those was that firearms units were “moving though” and that indicated to him that the suspect had been positively identified as a suspected suicide bomber, he said.
He said three surveillance officers codenamed Ivor, Geoff and Ken and three firearms officers codenamed C2, C5 and D9 had all entered the carriage when the shooting happened. Mr Mansfield said: “None of these remembers you shouting ‘Armed police’. No civilian in a position to see it suggests that this happened.” He also accused C12 of “embellishing ” his story by suggesting that Mr de Menezes was wearing a “bulky” denim jacket.
C12 accepted he had been fearful when approaching De Menezes. “Fear was certainly there, but as regard to controlling my actions it is possible it had some impact, yes. I cannot deny that. I thought I was going to die and I took action to stop that,” he said.
He was “so consumed” with what had happened the day before on July 21 2005, when four suicide bombers had failed to detonate bombs on the London transport system, that the only thought in his mind as he chased Mr de Menezes was to deliver a critical shot to his head, it was claimed.
Michael Mansfield, QC, for the family, said that the officer, a member of Scotland Yard’s elite CO19 specialist firearms unit, never really properly assessed the situation.
When he was asked by Mr Mansfield why he thought things went wrong, the firearms officer said: “From the information I have received, from briefings, through positive identification given to me by surveillance officers, by Mr de Menezes’s actions both on getting on the Tube and challenging him. Everything I thought sadly proved to be wrong.”
However the picture of C12 suggest he is not a person who often questions why he thinks in such ways, the Met’s entire approach has not shown any willingness to examine their institutional culture and the groupthink it demands. Not least because such structural omerta has been used to escape censure and allow those in charge to be promoted.