Source AP ©

Undercover officer discourses on his pursuit of de Menezes

The undercover officer who pursued an innocent Brazilian man told a British court Monday he was close enough to the victim to feel the shock wave from his fellow officer's gun.

The surveillance officer, code named Ivor, said he followed 27-year-old electrician Jean Charles de Menezes - wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber - into London's subway system before confronting him when he stepped on to a train.

"I grabbed Mr. de Menezes, wrapping both my arms around the torso, pinning his arms against his side, pushing him back to the seat with the right hand side of my head against the right hand side of his torso, pinning him to the seat," Ivor told a jury, which is due to rule on whether police violated health and safety laws when Menezes was killed.

"After a few moments I felt his head turn towards me. I was aware of a CO19 (firearms) officer kneeling on the seat to my left. I heard a gunshot very close to my left ear and was hit by a shock wave of a gun being discharged."

Prosecutors say police killed Menezes and put the lives of others at risk during an anti-terrorism operation in July 2005 because of flawed planning and chaos at headquarters. Police dispute the charge, saying Menezes' killing - which came a day after a group of would-be suicide bombers botched an attack on London's transit system - was an error, not a crime.

Ivan, who said he was dressed "virtually identically" to Menezes, described a violent and chaotic scene immediately after the shooting. He said another officer muscled him to the floor as guns were leveled to his head and chest. He was then dragged out of the carriage and to the rear wall of the platform. He said the air filled with screaming, shots, and gun smoke as the distressed members of the public emptied from the train.

Menezes was shot seven times in the head.

Ivan said he had acted instinctively against the Brazilian.

"Given the nature of the subject we were deployed against I had to make an assessment within seconds," he said. "I was obviously concerned that he may be carrying arms or had explosives in his possession which could be a threat to the public on the carriage."

Police have accepted responsibility in de Menezes' death, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission has ruled out disciplinary action against any of the surveillance or firearms officers involved.

A decision on whether four senior officers should be disciplined has been deferred until after this trial.

The penalty for a conviction under health and safety laws is an unlimited fine.

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