Monday, July 25, 2005

Brazilian shot eight times by officers

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.


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