The innocent Brazilian man gunned down by police at Stockwell Underground station on Friday was killed by seven shots to the head and one to the shoulder, a coroner's inquest heard yesterday.
His killing has put Britain's "shoot-to-kill" policy under the spotlight, with British Muslim politicians expressing concern yesterday that other innocent people - particularly illegal asylum seekers - might end up being shot by police.
At a Downing Street news conference yesterday, Mr Blair said: "We are desperately sorry for the death of an innocent person, and I understand entirely the feelings of the young man's family.
"But we also have to understand the police are doing their job in very difficult circumstances, and I think it is important that we give them every support and that we understand that had the circumstances been different and, for example, this had turned out to be a terrorist and they had failed to take that action, they would have been criticised the other way."
Blair is correct as far as he goes, but when I heard him on NPR this morning I got to wondering whether a suicide bomber would be more, less or equally as likely to run from the cops than would an illegal alien, a guy carrying drugs or some other nonterrorist with something to hide from the police. That seemed to me to catch the essence of the problem when trying to formulate a policy for these situations: once a suicide bomber has made it as far as a train station with explosives ready to detonate, he is essentially in a perverse "no-lose" situation. His options for inflicting casualties may be reduced from scores of commuters in a car to a handful of cops on a platform, but it's pretty damn terrifying either way.