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British officer who shot Brazilian testifies

Related article:
Jurors retrace steps of man shot by British police

By Jill Lawless
Associated Press

LONDON — A police marksman who shot dead an unarmed Brazilian aboard a London subway train said Friday he was sure he faced "immeasurable" danger from a suicide bomber.

The officer told jurors at an inquest into the July 22, 2005, killing of Jean Charles de Menezes that he believed the man he was pursuing had been identified as one of the failed suicide bombers who had tried to attack London's transport system the day before.

"It was left in no doubt as to the type of suspect we were trying to intercept and they were prepared to take their own lives as well as others and the danger was immeasurable," said the marksman, who was granted anonymity by the inquest and identified only by his code name, C12.

An inquest, which is not a trial, is required by British law when someone dies unexpectedly, violently or of unknown causes. De Menezes' family and their supporters hope that it will provide more information about de Menezes' death than has so far been revealed publicly.

De Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was followed from his apartment building - which was also home to one of the would-be bombers - and onto a subway train by armed officers who fired seven shots into his head.

Friday's testimony was the first time either of the officers who shot de Menezes has spoken publicly about the events. The dead man's mother, Maria Otone de Menezes, 63, and brother Giovani da Silva, 36, were at the inquest to hear him.

The inquest has heard testimony about confused communications between police officers as the London force mounted a huge manhunt for the failed bombers. Tensions were high in the city following suicide bombings two weeks earlier that killed 52 subway and bus passengers.

The officer said he was frustrated by a lack of orders from his superiors in the moments before the shooting.

"We were very, very close to the Tube station as the subject went in and I remember there being a radio silence and I was frustrated by this," he said.

The officer told the inquest that he had been a specialist firearms officer since 1998 but had never fired his gun at a suspect until the day de Menezes was killed.

No individual has been charged in de Menezes' death, although a court convicted the police force last year of health and safety violations for endangering the public's safety during the shooting.

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