Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trigger Happy U.K. Policemen Return to Duty

The Guardian reports on the decision to allow the Police Officers who killed the Brazilian man in the subway to return to duty.

Scotland Yard will allow two firearms officers who shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes to return to frontline duties, even though an inquest jury fundamentally rejected their account of the shooting and criticised almost every aspect of the police operation, the Guardian has learned.

Thanks to our frequent commenter Tom for the heads up. I had missed this story, interestingly it does not appear on the BBC, but if you remember we had discussed it before. At that time I referred to these cops as "trigger-happy," and questioned if it was right to only punish their superiors. It now seems clear that is exactly what's happening. But, given the public uproar, and the international attention, the police officers involved may not escape unscathed.

Crucially, the jury did not believe the testimony of C12, the specialist firearms officer who fired the first shot. He said he had shouted the warning "armed police" at de Menezes, and that the Brazilian had stood up and moved towards him aggressively, as if to close down the distance between them. They also rejected the testimony of officer C2, who said he shouted "armed police" as he put his gun to de Menezes' head and fired. None of the civilians in the carriage heard the warnings.

It sounds to me like this is just another example of people abusing their power. I understand the heat-of-the-chase factor and the incredible stress associated with pursuing a possible terrorist, but that's exactly why police officers have to be held to a higher standard. These cops are more culpable than many of the killers we enjoy discussing and dissecting.

What's your opinion? Do you think this has something to do with the general tyranny which is taking over the U.K.? That seems to be Tom's point in commenting yesterday.

If you told people in the UK 20 years ago that their entire lives, from emails to phone conversations would be monitored, down to having the highest number of CCTV cameras per capita of any place on earth after having been forcibly disarmed by their government for "their own good" they would have laughed at you. Where are they now?

I've yet to meet a British person who feels that way. What do you think?


  1. i suspect this has more to do with U.K. policemen not being trained in the use of arms and deadly force enough. reasonably speaking, how could they be? what with firearms being effectively banned there and violence of all kinds being so taboo in that country, how many competent trainers could there be?

    i saw a youtube video once of British army soldiers at the firing range. there was a blinking orange light and a wailing siren on, at all times, just to annoy the ever-living daylights out of anyone who'd dare to touch an icky icky gun... erm... i'm sure it was meant to warn of live ammunition within ten miles' distance or somesuch, but it undoubtedly had the former effect as well. it was flatly ludicrous. and that's their army, imagine how unrealistic their police training must be!

    an untrained, unprepared person being forced into a potentially deadly (as they are told, and understand it) situation, carrying deadly force in their hands, can react in a number of different ways. most of those ways are fairly well known, and all of them tend to be bad. most of them can be mitigated somewhat by competent leadership, provided that leader is right there; many a rookie soldier has survived his first battle only because there was a veteran sergeant there to tell him what to do. but a rookie trooper left to take his own, untrained, initiative... tends to do bad things.

    the officers involved in the de Menezes shooting would not have had competent leadership on the scene; you can tell, because the action they took was to prone their prisoner out on the ground and shoot him in the head. that speaks of untrained rookies who're scared witless and don't know what to do, so they try to render the prisoner harmless (force him prone on the ground), only to find they're still scared and witless... and alone with their own initiative.

    not that this sort of thing doesn't happen in the U.S. too, of course. the famous killings of Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo come to mind; i wish i knew what manner of leadership and training those cops had.

  2. I've yet to meet a British person who Doesn't Feel That Way. AS my friend Theo says "WE WANT OUR FOOKIN' GUNS BACK AND THE PLOD TO PISS OFF!"

    I believe you and I have different social circles, so the fact you've yet to meet a British person that feels that way and I invariably do is probably rather self selecting.

    The other thing is, most are slowly boiled UK frogs. The ones that are alive now aren't old enough to remember when you could mostly do whatever you wanted without asking for a permit for it.

  3. This just in off the wire regarding relying on police to protect you:

    Brittany Zimmerman, a 21-year-old college student who wanted to be a doctor, called 911 as she was being attacked by a stranger, police say.

    But the police did not come for 48 minutes. By that time, Zimmerman was dead. Her fiance found her body.

    Although the dispatcher claimed later to have heard nothing, the 911 tape captured screams, gasps and what sounds like a struggle, according to the court documents.

    Study this image, Mike.


  4. Nomen, It's not just in the UK. I understand the American cops often do the minimum as far as qualifying with their weapons.

    Tom, I think we definitely run in different circles. Would it lend any credibility to my position if I told you I wasn't always this way? Besides the USMC training, if you remember the Great Gun Survey, my Column A could not have been so interesting if I'd always run in the social circles I do today.

  5. It would explain your friends, not lend credibility to your position. Apples and oranges.

  6. Mike,

    How does the experience of your friends correlate with the statistics (I know you don't trust them) and the published accounts of increasing violence in England?

    To bring it back to the original story, the world view the U.K. cops are living in is a scary place. Yobs out of control are giving ASBO (anti-social behavioral orders) as if a piece of paper is going to make them straighten up and fly right; while the cops who dare lay hands on anyone can and will be punished, witness this story:

    A policeman jailed for punching a drunken yob has spoken of his ordeal after he was freed on appeal. PC Daniel Gaffney had been found guilty of punching the 12-year-old boy in the face, breaking his nose - and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison. The father- of-two spent three nights in jail before being released on bail pending an appeal.

    His conviction was quashed after the schoolboy, who has several convictions for assault, admitted he had been about to attack the officer when he was punched. It was eventually ruled that PC Gaffney, 30, had acted in self-defence. 'It was a split-second decision in a difficult situation - he was drunk and in a violent state of mind,' he said from his home in Northwich, Cheshire. 'I acted in self defence, but I wish it had not happened. 'I have worked as a response officer since I started in the police seven-and-a-half years ago and I have been assaulted in the course of doing my job before. It's not always big blokes who attack you.'

    Add in diversity and political correctness regarding religion, lack of training, familiarity with firearms, it's a recipe for disaster. Heck my youngest boy has probably shot more often then some English cops and he's only 15 and shot at summer camps.

    Also, do you feel that your training as a Marine is negatively impacting your view of gun owners, especially those of us who carry concealed?

    I realize I'm greatly oversimplifying things here but Marine training is designed around the concept of find a problem, shoot until it's not a problem, repeat as necessary. That mindset works great in combat, but not in the civilian self defense world view.

  7. "Marine training is designed around the concept of find a problem, shoot until it's not a problem, repeat as necessary."

    Bob, we should ask you son about that. How's he doing by the way? When will he know about his first duty station?

  8. Mike,

    I agree with Weer'd, I think it was a dodge around a very valid question.

    If I have the wrong idea of Marine training, correct me. I'll ask my son about it after he returns from his school of infantry training in January.

    Right now, he is doing quite well. He's enjoying the cushy life of working as a recruiter assistant. He's home until the end of December, then goes to his infantry training. He didn't get a guarantee contract for computers so he ended up with an MOS of supply admin, school we think is in Georgia. No word yet on his first permanent assignment.

    Please reconsider the question and the spirit that it was written in and try to answer it, thanks

  9. "Also, do you feel that your training as a Marine is negatively impacting your view of gun owners, especially those of us who carry concealed?"

    Is this the valid question you both think I dodged?

    I'm 55 now, I was 17 then. I honestly don't think much of anything is still with me from so long ago. But, why would my military training impact on my present views of gun owners? I don't even get the question, really, but I think the answer is no. My opinion about gun owners have been formed over the last six months. Prior to that it was vague. Now it's getting quite clear, and I'm afraid talking to you guys has not attracted me to your side.

  10. Implying it has repulsed you? Or is that too strong?

    Can you expand on your feelings on that issue. I'm curious.

  11. Mike,

    Our earlier training, ideals and habits can greatly affect how we perceive what is happening today.

    For example, I'm a military brat - grow up on half a dozen bases and lived in over a dozen homes. I was literally astonished in high school to find out a couple of friends had known each other since kindergarten. I hadn't conceived it was possible to keep friendships that long.

    Similarly, you or others have made repeated statements or concerns that law abiding gun owners will simply shoot their way out of a problem; be it domestic disputes or road rage.

    So, where does this idea come from? I was wondering if your military training and approach was influencing your thoughts. It is a legitimate question. The cops in India hesitated to fire on the murderers because their habits, training and mindset didn't include that scenario as a possibility. Does your thinking on "proper tactics" carry an influence on how you think that CCW holders will respond?

    If we aren't changing your mind on the subject of firearms, how about the law and respecting people's rights?

    Are you at least gaining ground in the respect for our constitutionally protected right of self defense versus wanting to ban all guns?

  12. Nobody can "ban all guns" they can only ban them from the weak.

    They are machines and the technology is OLD.

    My god-son is 7 and can build/fix rifles in dad's machine shop and fix lawn mowers and cars and boats too. Pretty good 400 yard shooter as well.

    No such thing as a workable ban.

    Bans are for pussies that don't fight for their rights.

    You come for my powder, and if you are lucky you'll only get 6 grains of it at a time. All depend on the circus dances at the time.

  13. "Implying it has repulsed you? Or is that too strong?"

    Yeah, that's too strong, Weer'd. In fact, my military training just seemed to fade away. I agree with Bob that our early training and experiences has an impact on who we are today, but I don't know, it was a long time ago. About guns, I've gone through a lot of changes since then. I think Bob made another good point, I don't remember where, that the Marine training is about combat and not about civilian life. I guess we each have our own way of looking at things, Tom with his militia-training-in-the-woods mentality, you and Bob with your carry-and-be-prepared-for-trouble mentality and me with my I-don't-want-to-be-part-of-the-problem mentality.

  14. "I-don't-want-to-be-part-of-the-problem mentality."

    But sometimes the problem finds you.

    You said you'd be willing to defend your family if forced to....but what good is such a pledge when it appears you have no plan or means to archive that very noble goal?

    There's a wall in your mind right around there. I'm curious if its sheetrock, or brick...

  15. Mike,
    I resent that, I'd like your comment to be amended to Tom, with his militia-training-in-the-woods-and-always-carrying-just-in-case mentality.


    Outside of commercial airliners and showering, I haven't been much further than an arm's reach from at least one firearm in longer than I can remember.

    Some places in Texas post "no-guns" but I've yet to see a sign that meets the legal statue to post out legal carry so I ignore them.

    In case it matters, I've yet to meet a sign that meets the requirements of Texas Penal Code - Section 30.06. Trespass By Holder Of License To Carry Concealed Handgun Section 3(B):

    (B) a sign posted on the property that:
    (i) includes the language described by
    Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;
    (ii) appears in contrasting colors with
    block letters at least one inch in height; and
    (iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner
    clearly visible to the public.

    Picture of a handgun with a red circle and line drawn through it or "We request you not to carry guns here" in small white print on the door glass and the like don't cut the mustard so I ignore them and if it went to court I'd win.

    Funny thing about concealed carry: Being as I carry concealed, it's never been a problem and nobody has ever noticed. Hence the term "concealed".

    FWIW: I fail to see how your actions either make you or remove you from being a problem in society. You made a choice for yourself that may or may not turn out to be a good one. How does that help you "avoid being part of 'the problem'"?

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