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London bombing and shooting updates

While officers involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes are given paid holiday and “non-firearm duties,’ the victim’s family may sue the Metropolitan Police over its shoot-to-kill policy.

He was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder, according to police investigators. The undercover police did not identify themselves.

Lee Ruston, 32, who was on the platform, said he did not hear any of the three shout “police’ or anything like it. Mr Ruston, a company director, said he saw two officers put on blue baseball caps marked “police’ but that the frightened electrician could not have seen that because he had his back to the officers and was running with his head down. — The Australian

His cousin, Alex Pereira told BBC News, “[The police] have to pay for [Friday’s killing] in many ways, because if they do not, they are going to kill many people, they are going to kill thousands of people. . . . They killed my cousin, they could kill anyone.’

This isn’t the only shooting in recent memory. In 1999 London armed police shot an unarmed man because they believed the bag he was carrying contained a gun. It contained a table leg.

Most police forces in the UK supply their firearms units with rules of engagement based on guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

These state that they:

  • Must identify themselves and declare intent to fire (unless this risks serious harm).
  • Should aim for the biggest target (the torso) to incapacitate and for greater accuracy.
  • Should reassess the situation after each shot.

- BBC News

The Metropolitan Police are using different tactics in the case of suspected suicide bombers, however. Acting on advice from Israeli defense forces, the police now shoot for the head in cases of suspected suicide bombers. But this tactic may not work either.

This policy is based on the extremely short-sighted assumption that a terrorist needs to push buttons to make a bomb explode. In fact, ever since World War I, the most common type of bomb carried by a person has been the hand grenade. It is entirely conceivable, especially when a shoot-to-kill policy is known to be in effect, that suicide bombers will use the same kind of dead-man’s trigger on their bombs: a detonate that is activated when a button is released, rather than when it is pushed.

This is a difficult one. Whatever policy you choose, the terrorists will adapt to make that policy the wrong one. — Bruce Schneier

Okay, so you can’t shoot them in the head, you have to be watchful of dead-man’s switches, what to do? You use a Taser. London police arrested one of the 21 July bombing suspects this morning after subduing him using a Taser.

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