August 16, 2005

The Menezes death

No bulky jacket. No belt with wires. No vaulting of turnstiles. Still no evidence police officers even identified themselves before shooting.

I look forward to the various expressions of anger now that initial reports, as they always were, proved wrong, from Ann Althouse, Glenn "suicide by cop" Reynolds, Damian Brooks, and others. I figure I'll be waiting a while.

Mark Steyn, on the other hand, had absolutely the right instincts on this one.

It should go without saying that the proximate cause here wasn't anything Menezes did, or whatever his immediate reaction was to that armed gang in civilian clothes running at him on a subway platform. No, it was almost certainly the last-minute and short-notice switching of the police teams dealing with him, with the apprehension team going into the situation poorly briefed and without much opportunity for any handoff from the surveillance team, that was the real cause of death here. There was probably zero time for an exchange of info on rules of engagement or likely threat between the two teams, just a demand to the guys who'd just arrived to immediately apprehend a guy who could be connected with suicide bombers, before he got on that train. Like all "stop that man"-style handoffs, this one was almost guaranteed to be misinterpreted. (Something similar happened in Somalia with Canadian troops in the early 1990s, where a spoken shout to "stop him!" without further time for explanation or context, and delivered to keyed up soldiers sitting in a cut-off position in the dark, led to the unintentional and fatal shooting of an unarmed Somali looter. Soldiers and police that haven't been given the opportunity to understand what's going on before a possible target's in their sights are inherently extremely dangerous. In the real world, lethality without intelligence is almost always counter-productive.)

UPDATE, Aug. 19: As I was saying.

Posted by BruceR at 12:18 PM