« actual execution channel | Main | subtextually informative »

March 12, 2012

Comments

Alex

I think that may have been the "The Plan's Gone To Ratshit, Make It Up As You Go" doctrine.

ajay

I would guess that even an average marksman could probably get the headshot if he was shooting at point blank range at a person who was being restrained with both arms held behind his back.

You'd think, but IIRC the policeman who killed Menezes actually missed with one of the eight rounds he fired.

Cian

8? Jesus, the details you forget.

I remember at the time wondering if the guy panicked and the whole 'shoot to kill' policy was made up as part of a cover up of the general level of incompetence.

Barry Freed

They're actually aiming at a target even smaller than the head since a shot to the brain still doesn't guarantee a kill (remember Rep. Giffords) and may result in the "suspect" twitching (and possibly detonating a bomb). Rather, they're aiming at the brainstem which is the only thing that can guarantee an instaneous kill and it is a very small target indeed.

Chris Williams

Phil, when's your mate's chapter on this coming out?

Given how badly they had prepared the _important_ bit of the Kratos doctrine - making the decision about whether or not to kill someone, based on analysis of the best evidence they had - I can't help wondering if the whole process was the result of a coversation like this, circa 2001:

"Given that the world has changed, what specifically can our lot contribute to the state's anti-terrorism arsenal?"
"Well, we already shoot people whenever a reasonable person feels they pose a threat to life - how much more can we do?"
"We could shoot them in the head. Repeatedly."
"Yes, that would be a new contribution. But isn't it a bit over the top?"
"People do say that desperate times call for desperate measures. And these are, officially, desperate times."
"And this is certainly a desperate measure. Let's do it."

skidmarx

So to revive a question of the time, does the de Menezes shooting constitute murder, and if so who are the guilty parties?

Chris Williams

Not murder: no malice against the victim, or even a settled desire that there would be victim. I think it's corporate manslaughter myself - with the guy(s) who pulled the trigger _not_ belonging on the indictment - but it would be a devil to prove, since it would necessarily involve exploring who set the doctrines up, who trained the control teams, who decided which one(s) to implement on the day, and who did the 'implementing'. It would go very Saville very quickly.

Phil

Chris - YM you think it would have been corporate manslaughter if it had happened after the passage into law of The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (which was promised, or something like it, in Labour's 1997 manifesto, so there's a what-if to conjure with). No law, no problem, as Stalin didn't say.

I wonder how inquest verdicts play into prosecution decisions in difficult cases like this one (and say what you like, it is a difficult case - "someone screwed up horribly" is easy, but who and how is hard). Would the coroner's refusal to accept a verdict of unlawful killing have made a homicide prosecution impossible?

IIRC the tally was nine rounds discharged, seven into de Menezes's head, one into his shoulder and one into the seat back. As D^2 says, the combination of perceived detonation risk and close-up execution is odd - if they could get that close, they could have told him to put his hands on his head (and then shot him if he made a false move); for that matter, they could have done what the Israeli guy in that linked piece apparently used to do, and simply grab his hands. Personally I blame Adam Smith - the guys who ran down the escalator & vaulted the barriers were acting on instructions to "stop him", and that's what they did.

The book chapter is in a book on State Terrorism, which my friend rather unsportingly doesn't think the shooting was. I think he thinks Ian Blair blundering around like a fart in a trance and asking London coppers to kill without warning is actually worse than state terrorism (in any form that's known to Western Europe), & I think I tend to agree.

Dan Hardie

I think that the shooting De Menezes was in large part the result of massive amounts of adrenaline, which in turn resulted from the senior Met officers' mishandling of the affair.

The surveillance team that followed De Menezes a)after following him for some time, expressed strong doubts that he was in fact the suspect he was after; b) suggested strongly that they make an armed arrest in the street, which suggestion was turned down by Cressida Dick for reasons which were never fully explained by her at the Health and Safety trial; c) continued to follow De Menezes, calmly and without panic, onto the Tube, where one of the surveillance officers wrestled him to the floor once the armed response team arrived.

But how did the armed response team arrive? They were given a message that a likely suicide bomber was heading for a Tube station, made a high-speed drive to the station, when they found out that the suspect had already crossed the barrier and was going down towards the Tube trains, which was thought to be his likely target following the 7/7 attacks; then they jumped a ticket barrier and sprinted down the escalators and onto the train.

Result: the firearms team were hyped up to the nth degree and the chances were very high that they were going to act as they did. Whereas the surveillance team had been following De Menezes on foot, at roughly his pace, felt that he was not a definite threat and had made a judgement that they could arrest him.

There's a good chapter in one of (I know, I know) Malcolm Gladwell's books- I think it's 'Blink'- when he lists the major scandals that have resulted from US police beatings or shootings of innocent people, and shows that almost all of them came at the end of high-speed chases. A lot of adrenaline seriously affects judgement, even for trained personnel.

One further thought: quite possibly Dick's refusal to allow the surveillance team to make a stop, as they requested, was down to the fact that the surveillance bods were (partly or all, I don't know) military personnel from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. They may have lacked the legal authority to make arrests (bad planning if so), or she may have doubted their ability to do so and just wanted to use 'her' people.

On top of all this, there was the Kratos guidance, but I'm not 100% sure that that was a major factor in killing De Menezes. It was almost certainly the decision to shoot, rather than the choice of target, that led to De Menezes's death. If the marksman had put eight or nine shots at close range into De Menezes's torso rather than his head, then I can tell you on pretty good authority that he would almost certainly have died.

(I actually know one of the police officers on the firearms team that killed De Menezes, although she herself didn't fire any shots that day, and I also know the paramedic who was first on the scene to inspect the corpse. I didn't learn anything significant about the incident from chatting to them, though.)

ajay

quite possibly Dick's refusal to allow the surveillance team to make a stop, as they requested, was down to the fact that the surveillance bods were (partly or all, I don't know) military personnel from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. They may have lacked the legal authority to make arrests (bad planning if so), or she may have doubted their ability to do so and just wanted to use 'her' people.

The team was, I believe, partly but not all SRR. The man who had the aperture when de Menezes left the building, and contributed to the misidentification, was SRR. And, yes, they would have lacked the authority to make arrests.

I didn't know that the surveillance team was armed as well. That surprises me. If they weren't, maybe that explains why Dick didn't want them to carry out the arrest?

Alex

ISTR the firearms team came directly from a briefing where they were told that "a suspect who was up for it" was on the streets, and mention was made of some sort of "special" ammunition, the nature of which was redacted out of the report.

Phil

As I understand it Dick basically lost it when de Menezes reached the tube station ahead of anyone from the Met, and gave an instruction which was essentially "somebody stop him". The surveillance people, who were armed, were a lot closer than the armed response unit, who were stuck in traffic when last heard from and for all anyone knew might have taken another five minutes to get there. They (surveillance) therefore volunteered to carry out the "stop", and Dick agreed; highly irregular, but preferable to letting the suspect get away. At this point the armed unit, who presumably had also heard Dick's instruction, arrived on the scene, and the rest we know.

The big question is how much co-ordination there was between the armed unit and the surveillance unit; the story as I've told it (as I got it from my friend, who got it from the inquest papers) strongly implies the answer is 'none at all', at the end at least.

dsquared

So therefore we think that Menezes was well outside of Kratos guidelines, which are to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head, without warning and presumably from a distance? Presumably also doing the shooting with a pistol or those natty little sub-machine guns, rather than a rifle? Don't these guidelines then run into the problem Dan identifies, which is that more often than not the head shot will miss?

With the presumable consequence that a) if he is a suicide bomber, you're in a situation equivalent to the one where you gave a warning or attempted a body shot, and b) if he isn't a suicide bomber, there is now a bullet or eight moving around at speed on a crowded Tube platform. When you start really looking at what they imply, these Kratos guidelines look a lot less logical.

Richard J

As a lowly accountant, I'm not best qualified to comment on this, but this all sounds remarkably like what happens when half-arsed contingency plans put in place to tick a box on some project manager's GANTT chart actually need to get implemented, and nobody ever could be bothered to have the enormously time-consuming and petty bureaucratic squabbles to clarify exactly who'd take ownership of the process.

Richard J

(Which is reminiscent of the feeling I'm getting on reading ajay-approved GCHQ. And, um, Bob Monkhouse's amazingly filthy autobiography.)

Phil

I've never so much as held one in my hands, but if you were shooting a small target from a distance, a rifle is precisely what you'd want to do it with, surely?

I don't think the shooting was textbook Kratos or textbook anything. I do think the use of multiple head shots without warning, after the development of a policy recommending ditto, is more than coincidental. But I think what actually happened was a mixture of bits of Kratos, standard operating procedure filling in the gaps between the bits, and frantic improvisation filling in the gaps that developed as they went on.

Chris Williams

Stockwell B makes it clear that the op was not run under Kratos rules, but under both Kratos rules and another set whose name escapes me off hand. Yes, that _is_ pretty stupid, isn't it?

DD - those are not 'sub-machine guns': they are carbines fixed on single shot.

dsquared

if you were shooting a small target from a distance, a rifle is precisely what you'd want to do it with, surely?

yes, but the police firearms squads (or at least, the ones in Heathrow Airport and round the back of the Bank of England) don't carry the sort of rifle you would want to have for your circus sharpshooter act - they carry pistols, or the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun (although apparently in its single-shot only version, I standard corrected by Chris). Because they're policemen, not snipers. The squad that were deployed at Stockwell definitely had Glock pistols.

Charlie W

I blogged about the police switching to folding stock rifles ages ago, and there are definitely some guns carried by UK police that looks like MP5s but aren't: some Googling suggests that they're the fine HK91 product.

Barry Freed

Surely it must be the HK43/93. The HK91 fires 7.62 NATO which is just nuts for cops to be using and running around with in a dense urban environment (unless they're a designated marksman).

(I thought that they used the G36 though, or whatever the single-shot version is designated).

Charlie W

It might well be that. I would still take all their bullets away, myself.

Phil

both Kratos rules and another set whose name escapes me off hand

To be fair, there were only two Kratos plans, one for intelligence of a suicide bomber at a static public event & one for following up a credible report from the public, so a certain amount of improvisation was inevitable.

I'm curious now about what weaponry they used on the day, and why - you could infer a certain amount about how far away they expected the target to be from what they were carrying. I only know about the ammo.

dsquared

Per IPCC, the only weapons fired were Glock self-loading pistols, but the eyewitnesses variously refer to the presence of an officer with a "large gun" or a "machine gun" (presumably the H&K?)

ajay

I am pretty sure they have some G36s, thinking back to the memorable day when I walked out of my gym into the middle of an armed standoff and was told to take an alternative route by a policeman holding what looked like a G36, who was taking cover behind a frosted plate glass door.

Barry Freed

Technically that's "concealment" not "cover." Well, not really concealment either but you know what I mean - these are cops we're talking about.

Which reminds me of a story I once read about mixed military/LE raids in the US which led to some unfortunate results due to the different meanings of "cover me" in each operational context.

dsquared

I am pretty sure they have some G36

yes they do, according to Wikipedia (unless you updated Wikipedia after you got home from the gym, then we need alternative corroboration).

Dan Hardie

Ajay: 'And, yes, they (the SRR) would have lacked the authority to make arrests.'

That needn't necessarily be true: soldiers can be granted the power to make arrests if the state formally accepts that there is Military Aid to the Civil Power- ie military units helping the police against criminal suspects, including terrorists. Soldiers made arrests in Northern Ireland, at first under a recognition that MACP was in place and later under the Emergency Powers Act. There were also 'military personnel' present at the (successful and non-lethal) apprehension of some of the 21/7 bombers- probably those personnel were SAS, rather than SRR, as it was a siege.

Thinking about it since my first comment, MACP would have had to have been in power for armed members of the SRR to have been on the streets in 2005, and so the SRR personnel should have had powers of arrest. If they didn't have those powers, that raises the serious question of what the hell both the Met and the military were doing putting armed troops in plain clothes on the street.

One of the big questions, that was not asked at the Health and Safety trial or AFAICT anywhere else, was what changed in the Met's command and control procedures between the misidentification and killing of De Menezes on 22 July 2005 and the non-lethal arrest of two genuine 21/7 bombers exactly one week later. 'Get rid of Cressida Dick' was clearly part of it, but it would be interesting to know what else was changed.

Dan Hardie

In response to some of the points raised above:

The cops who rocked up at Stockwell had a mixture of carbines and pistols: there were plenty of photos of them carrying both taken by bystanders immediately after the shooting.

The stuff about 'submachine guns' is a misapprehension of what police weapons can do: all the long-barrelled weapons named above are very accurate. The Heckler and Koch carbine is at least as accurate as the A2 rifle that I carried in Afghanistan (which isalso a Heckler and Koch product, since the SA80 was almost completely redesigned by them back in the late '90s). It's not as accurate as an even-longer-barrelled sniper weapon, but more accurate at any kind of range above a few metres than a pistol.

None of the weapons used by the British police is a 'submachine gun' in the sense that, say, the Uzi is or Second World War weapons like the Sten or Thompson were: they were basically inaccurate lengths of stovepipe created to spray a lot of bullets fast into a small space. (The first of them, the Thompson, was developed in 1918 to give the US Army a trench-clearing weapon in the closing stages of the First World War, though I think it never quite reached the battlefield in time, and was first used outside US cities by the IRA.)

The British military, and quite possibly the police, distinguish between 'cover from fire' and 'cover from view'.

Phil

As I understand it, the Terrorism Act 2000 superseded - & effectively incorporated - the NI EPA as well as the UK PTA. Might whatever powers of arrest the military had in NI simply have been extended to the UK as a result?

Dan Hardie

The point is that the military has no powers of arrest over civilians unless there has been an official recognition that there is Military Aid to the Civil Power. If that is in force, then the soldiers involved in MACP have temporary powers of arrest. Really, we should know whether the SRR members who were out in London that day had powers of arrest or not.

I suspect that they must have had powers of arrest, since soldiers take the chance of being prosecuted for shooting someone very seriously. (No doubt some people here think they shouldn't, but they do. It is a big fear among a lot of soldiers.)

If the they were armed when they were deployed, they would have *had* to have been told at their briefing what legal basis they had for using their weapons. Possibly it was just 'card Alpha' (inalienable right to defence of yourself and others) but even that would give them the ability to point a gun at someone and say 'don't move' if they reasonably suspected that person of being about to endanger life.

Any roomful of soldiers would have had quite a few people asking questions about whether and how they could use their guns, and that would have gone double for a roomful of SRR. The kind of character who gets into the SRR is unusually bright and independent-minded- I've met a couple.

Dan Hardie

This- ' If that is in force, then the soldiers involved in MACP have temporary powers of arrest.'

should read 'can have temporary powers of arrest'. I would like to know if they did or didn't.

dsquared

The Heckler and Koch carbine is at least as accurate as the A2 rifle that I carried in Afghanistan

The one with which you reckoned you couldn't guarantee hitting a head-sized moving target? I'm just trying to find out here whether this "shoot in the head on sight" policy is feasible. Why are the armed plod carrying pistols at all if this is what they're meant to be doing?

Phil

I wonder if the contradiction between needing to get up close to get a good clean shot at the head & not wanting to fire anything up close to a suicide bomber was something that just hadn't been worked out yet.

It is genuinely bizarre. I've just remembered (with a bit of help from Wikipedia) that one of the actual bombers was tasered in the course of being arrested by West Mids police, and that Ian Blair personally criticised this on the grounds that it would (not could) have set a bomb off ("If there is a bomb on that body, then the bomb is going to go off"). Holding that body's arms to its sides & shooting it repeatedly from close range, on the other hand, is safe as houses.

Phil

Dan - you wrote up above

Soldiers made arrests in Northern Ireland, at first under a recognition that MACP was in place and later under the Emergency Powers Act

which implies that the EPA made powers of arrest available without having to go down the MACP route. If that's the case, presumably those EPA powers are now in UK law.

dsquared

Am I also (as with the submachine gun thing) completely misled by Wikipedia in believing that any citizen, presumably including a soldier, has the power to make an arrest of someone doing something illegal like carrying a suicide bomb?

Phil

I'm told that the surveillance officer who pinioned de Menezes was himself Asian & carrying a rucksack - he must have been as scared as anyone when the heavy mob arrived (more so than de Menezes, probably).

Boringly enough, the Kratos guidelines - and training - with regard to the head shot just seem to be "from a distance if you can, from up close if you have to".

PACE 24A (as revised by SOCAP 2005) does indeed say that any person (not a 'citizen') can make an arrest for any indictable offence (any offence that can be tried in a Crown Court), if it's necessary for public safety and if there aren't any cops about. It's the kind of power private security leans on (see this discussion); I wouldn't have thought the military would have to use it, but I haven't got anything to back that up.

Dan Hardie

Dsquared: 'The one with which you reckoned you couldn't guarantee hitting a head-sized moving target?'

No, someone with my level of training couldn't at 100 metres or more (and all normal army marksmanship training takes place at ranges . Someone firing at a closer range, with some level of Close Quarter Battle training, could guarantee that. So could a rifleman firing from 100m+ with with a better level of training than I have- a soldier qualified as a 'marksman' probably could, a solider qualified as a sniper definitely could, as a big part of their training is shooting skull-sized targets from very long distances. I don't know what standards are for CQB shooting, and I don't know what standard police armed response teams are trained up to.

The Heckler and Koch is not a submachine gun- it's a rifle (call it a carbine if you want but there is no substantive difference). It looks a bit different from the A2 rifles the army is issued with but it's basically the same animal, made (nowadays) by the same company.

Also dsquared: 'Am I also (as with the submachine gun thing) completely misled by Wikipedia in believing that any citizen, presumably including a soldier, has the power to make an arrest of someone doing something illegal like carrying a suicide bomb?'

Any person has the right to use force to protect themselves or others if they have a reasonable belief that a person or persons is committing or imminently about to commit actions which endanger life- what is referred to as 'Card Alpha', because soldiers are issued with a card explaining the circumstances under which they may use force. But to a soldier about to go out on the streets of London in plain clothes carrying a concealed weapon, that basically means 'if you point or fire a gun at someone you'll be okay so long as you can convince a jury that you had a reasonable grounds for doing so'. As I say, any roomful of soldiers, particularly bright and stroppy Special Forces types, are going to say 'look, if I'm going out after terrorist suspects that's not enough and I want MACP powers'. I'd like to know if they went out with MACP powers or 'Card Alpha' (use of force limited to defence of self and others).

If it was the latter, that might have partly explained Dick's reluctance to use the surveillance team to arrest De Menezes- which might well have turned out better, given that it was a member of the surveillance team who wrestled De Menezes to the floor and called out to the firearms officer not to shoot.

Dan Hardie

Phil: I'm pretty sure that you're wrong and that the Army operation in Northern Ireland was one long continuing instance of MACP. I've certainly never heard that the Army have powers of arrest over civilians (which will also mean powers of armed arrest, and powers to shoot) without the specific request of, and authorisation by, the civil power. Giving them such powers would have been a massively authoritarian change for any government, even New Labour.

There was big pushback over New Labour policies like ID cards and 90 day detention, so I don't think Parliament or the media would just have said 'Okay, Blair wants to authorise armed soldiers to arrest civilians in the streets of London, not a problem.'

Dan Hardie

Second paragraph of first post above should read: 'all normal army marksmanship training takes place at ranges of 100 metres or more.' Most police training is going to take place at shorter distances because of the difference between an Army trained on NATO lines and a police force making close arrests.

Alex

Wikipedia sez the Emergency Powers Act 1926 used in Northern Ireland was a Northern Ireland act, but it was repealed by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

The EPA 1920 was very similar, but excluded Northern Ireland. Anyway, it was last used in 1974 and it doesn't mention powers of arrest. CCA 2004 is pretty draconian but doesn't actually touch on powers of arrest.

Why are the armed plod carrying pistols at all if this is what they're meant to be doing?

I would think "in case they end up in a close-quarters brawl where a long-barrelled weapon would be cumbersome and pose a risk of shooting someone unintentionally - say, on a crowded tube train".

Dan Hardie

Dsquared: 'Why are the armed plod carrying pistols at all if this is what they're meant to be doing?'

Alex: 'I would think "in case they end up in a close-quarters brawl where a long-barrelled weapon would be cumbersome and pose a risk of shooting someone unintentionally - say, on a crowded tube train".'

I think that's true to some extent, but it's also because you can conceal a pistol much more easily than you can a rifle. A lot of armed police work is plainclothes, where they have to approach the suspect while he's unawares, or wait for someone to do something like pull out a gun and try to rob a bank, so they need to be able to conceal weapons. Finally, it's not a bad idea to carry two weapons in case you get a stoppage on the first.

dsquared

Boringly enough, the Kratos guidelines - and training - with regard to the head shot just seem to be "from a distance if you can, from up close if you have to".

I think that's fascinating, in a bad way, and it really does make me think that Richard's "contingency plan that nobody put much effort into" theory might be right. I am going to have to give up on this because every time someone answers a question it proliferates two more ...

1) "From a distance if you can" - obviously, like jumping over a river, shooting a small moving target is the sort of thing that you only find out if you can do it at a point which is slightly too late if you can't. And Dan seems to suggest that the usual failure mode for the head shot is the torso shot which is allegedly more dangerous. So for this to be sensible, we would have to believe that there is a level of training (and perhaps natural skill) which would make a policeman a very very much better shot than a normal soldier, and that this training would be helpful in shooting people perhaps after a short chase, on a crowded tube platform (ie not really much like being a sniper in the army).

I suppose that this is possible but I'd have thought we would put up a better show in the biathlon in the Winter Olympics if the Met was really doing it on a systematic basis, and there is still the question of why the pistols.

b) "from up close if you have to" - in what situation would you have to, unless you had already solved one of the other problems which allegedly make the head shot necessary? Does your friend's chapter conclude that the Menezes operation was consistent with Kratos - ie that the guidelines include shooting someone who is already immobilised and not resisting?

It seems to me that these guidelines are as confusing as hell (and therefore likely themselves to contribute to oeprational stress, as nothing is as stressful as not knowing what you're meant to do, presumably hence all the questions asked by soldiers). And that the combination of unclarity, slightly bullshitty rationales and emphasis specifically on the head shot are basically just going to create an atmosphere of "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". Except for "buying IBM" you have to substitute "shooting people repeatedly in the head".

Presumably if there is Kratos training to go along with the guidelines there will be more detailed training materials. Do you think these would be available to a FOI request?

Dan Hardie

'And Dan seems to suggest that the usual failure mode for the head shot is the torso shot which is allegedly more dangerous.'

Not quite. Shooting someone in the torso is less dangerous than shooting them in the head (ask a military surgeon or a pathologist for an exact statistical breakdown, I suppose), but it's still extremely dangerous and likely to kill them.

'there is a level of training (and perhaps natural skill) which would make a policeman a very very much better shot than a normal soldier, and that this training would be helpful in shooting people perhaps after a short chase, on a crowded tube platform'

There is a type of training - called Close Quarter Battle in the Army, and probably called the same thing in the police- which does equip you to shoot people accurately at short ranges, in crowded areas, after chases (or climbing down walls or whatever).

As with all *types* of training, this can be taught to different *levels* (basic, intermediate, expert, whatever). In the military this is taught to Special Forces (including the SRR troops who followed De Menezes) and to Royal Military police Close Protection teams, and the level of training they receive is high, and very high if they are specifically preparing for a job that is likely to need CQB skills. Eg the SAS get several weeks of CQB training when they join, do refreshers frequently thereafter, but train even more intensively on it when they are rotated onto the Counter-Terrorism teams (who will be providing the back-up for plod at the Olympics).

I suspect that all armed police officers get this type of training, and that the level to which they get trained depends on what kind of firearms squad they are on. I'll try and ask the guy I know who trains Met armed response teams, but I doubt he'll be very forthcoming.

One point to make about the De Menezes shooting is that the SRR specialise in Close Quarter Battle shooting- it's a very big part of their training programme and if you don't make the grade you are out. And so their firearms skills, in crowded, close-quarter situations, were quite probably as good as or better than those of the police firearms team.

dsquared

No, someone with my level of training couldn't at 100 metres or more (and all normal army marksmanship training takes place at ranges . Someone firing at a closer range, with some level of Close Quarter Battle training, could guarantee that. So could a rifleman firing from 100m+ with with a better level of training than I have- a soldier qualified as a 'marksman' probably could, a solider qualified as a sniper definitely could, as a big part of their training is shooting skull-sized targets from very long distances. I don't know what standards are for CQB shooting, and I don't know what standard police armed response teams are trained up to.

Right, thanks. So it might be more realistic than I'd assumed to have the presumed Kratos plan:

1) intelligence report of a suicide bomber at a public event.

2) SB is spotted by a spotter team

3) CO19 or whoever show up with their H&K guns and stand at a distance of less than 100m from SB

4) Bang

5) Suicide bomber now, with a reasonable degree of certainty, dead without having had a chance to trigger his bomb.

I have to say that although the practicalities aren't as screwed as I thought they were (sorry for being such a hard study but we got there in the end), it still seems like the sort of thing someone would come up with if they played too many video games. Obviously there is a big stage between 1) and 4) during which the SB absolutely has to not notice the police pointing a gun at him. And between 3) and 4) the policeman has to get a clear shot at SB without any innocent citizen (me, for example) walking in front of him, and he can't clear his lines of sight in the normal manner by shouting "please get out of the way, I'm trying to shoot a suicide bomber in the head". Obviously the simple act of raising one of those guns is going to get most people scrambling out of the way, but it still seems like a logistic nightmare to me, which is presumably why they didn't actually do it in Stockwell.

dsquared

Shooting someone in the torso is less dangerous than shooting them in the head (ask a military surgeon or a pathologist for an exact statistical breakdown, I suppose), but it's still extremely dangerous and likely to kill them.

I meant more dangerous for bystanders if the person you're shooting is wearing a suicide bomb.

Dan Hardie

Further to dsquared's comment: ''And Dan seems to suggest that the usual failure mode for the head shot is the torso shot which is allegedly more dangerous.'

Sorry, by 'allegedly more dangerous' I see you could have meant 'alleged by whoever thought up the Kratos guidelines, on the grounds that torso shots might leave a suicide bomber alive to detonate himself'. Not 'alleged by me', which is what I originally thought you meant.

I think the whole incident reeks of chaos and improvisation. But I do think that the choice of target (head not torso) is a lot less important than the command and control decisions (don't listen to the surveillance team's belief that this might not be a suspect; don't allow the surveillance team to make the stop; send the firearms team to the scene hell-for-leather so that they will be crazily hyped when they arrive; possibly, mis-represent the information from the surveillance team to the firearms team, so that the latter are convinced De Menezes is an imminet threat to life).

Did the marksman shoot De Menezes because Kratos guidelines told him to, or because he'd just been driven at a ridiculous speed and sprinted down an escalator in the belief that he had a few seconds to prevent a suicide bomber wiping out a crowded Tube carriage? I'd say the latter.

dsquared

Yeah probably right; Stockwell was an overdetermined failure although IME bad plans and bad execution tend to go together. And also:

1) AFAICS as discussed above, even in the paradigm case where nobody was improvising tactics and everything was under control (ie, intelligence report at a static public event), Kratos still looks like a pretty bad idea to me.

and

2) Kratos was introduced in 2002, which means that by the time of Stockwell, the Met firearms squad had five years of structuring their training round this seemly unresearched and probably empirically false generalisation about the impossibility of dealing with suicide bombers in any other way than immediately shooting them in the head. "As you know, Bob", the whole purpose of doing this training is to condition people's responses so that they react in the right way when under stress and with the adrenalin pumping. It does seem to me that it could have been the case that the training might have been structured to as to produce a greater likelihood of the reaction "Whew, that's a relief, my mates from the SRR have got him under control" and a lower likelihood of the reaction "Dammit, why isn't somebody shooting this guy in the head?"

So I think the selection of head versus torso does matter a bit, because it's intrinsically tied up in the "logical" argument that there is no possible way of dealing with suspected suicide bombers other than killing them on sight without warning.

Cian

There's a good chapter in one of (I know, I know) Malcolm Gladwell's books- I think it's 'Blink'- when he lists the major scandals that have resulted from US police beatings or shootings of innocent people, and shows that almost all of them came at the end of high-speed chases.

Eh? High stress I can see (but then its hard to separate out correlation and causation given the nature of police work), but high speed chases? Unless there's something about scandals and high speed chases. Maybe white people, or middle class people, are more likely to be shot in such situations. I mean black people get beaten and shot by the police all the time, without it necessarily being a scandal in the US. Whereas one white person... And SWAT raids seem to result in a number of innocent people being killed, without anyone much other than the CATO institute seeming to care.

Jakob

IIRC, the point Gladwell made was that sending out patrol officers alone was actually safer on high-speed pursuits than putting two officers in a car. The argument was that if you're alone, you sit tight once you've cornered the suspect and wait for backup, letting the adrenaline levels come back down; if you've got a friend in the car with you you're more likely to jump out and start whaling away at whomever you've just stopped.

Dan: On the understanding that this question is coming from a nerdy rivet-counting perspective (I am after all a historian of technology,) could you expand on your comment about the relative accuracy of police and army gear? As I understand it, the Met use both the MP5 semi-auto carbine (9mm pistol ammunition, ~9" barrel) and the G36C carbine (5.56mm rifle ammunition, ~11" barrel.) The A2 rifles that the army use have a ~20" barrel, and so I would expect the accuracy to be higher on the range. Or were you referring purely to the CQB environment?

guthrie

Jakob - the small problem with many of the high speed pursuits I've seen on telly (Yes, I know, small sample and all that) in the UK is that if there's one officer driving it gives the ned even more time to escape, and if there's 2 neds you've only got a slight chance of catching one.
Also the issue with double crewing is that you don't know if the guy who just jumped out of the car has a knife. So they can easily stab one officer, and the other has a chance to call for back up and arrest the guilty party.

On Stockwell, it has been claimed online that one of the reasons Dick was promoted later and has not apparently suffered because of that day was that the mess of a control room was someone elses fault, she had just drawn the short straw of being in charge of it that day. I can see where they're coming from but don't really agree.

The comments to this entry are closed.

friends blogs

blobs

Blog powered by Typepad

my former home