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British police who killed man believed they had prevented terror attack

The Associated Press

LONDON- British police who killed an innocent Brazilian they mistakenly believed was a suicide bomber were initially "buoyant" after the shooting because they thought they had saved Londoners from a terrorist attack, a senior officer said in a newspaper interview Sunday.

Deputy Commissioner Alan Given, a senior officer with the London police, told The Observer that he met with the officers hours after they shot Jean Charles de Menezes as he sat on a subway train at Stockwell station on July 22.

The shooting occurred one day after four men had attempted to bomb the capital's transport system and two weeks after a suicide attack on the system had killed 52 commuters and four bombers.

"There was no rejoicing, but the mood was buoyant," Given said. "They were convinced they had just shot someone who was a terrorist."

Given _ who retired from the force last week _ said it took more than 24 hours for senior police officials to realize that de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, was not a terrorist and that officers had shot an innocent man. Police have apologized repeatedly for his death.

Sir Ian Blair, who heads London's Metropolitan Police, has recently been embroiled in several controversies, including his handling of the de Menezes shooting, secretly taping telephone calls with civilian investigators and the country's attorney-general, and statements he made suggesting Britain's media could be racist in its crime coverage. Given said he was speaking to The Observer because he believed Blair was being unfairly maligned.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission recently completed an investigation into the killing of de Menezes, which could theoretically lead to the prosecution of police officers. Results of the probe have not been released yet. A second commission inquiry into a complaint by the Brazilian's family, including a complaint about the conduct of Blair, is expected to be concluded by the end of April.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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