Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wrong Man Killed in Tube Incident

It's interesting how quickly the Brits own up to mistakes. This guy was killed yesterday at the Stockwell Tube Station. After a day of mistakenly claiming that he was "directly connected to the bombings," they realized they were mistaken. Unlike the NYPD, they just came out and said, "we were wrong." How refreshing.

Clearly the officers had reason to believe he was a bomber and felt that they had to act quickly. They made a mistake and are owning up to it. As a result, even The Muslim Council of Britain and The human rights organisation Liberty were measured in their reponses. How strange it must be to live in such a rational country full of adults-acting adults.

13 Thoughts:

Blogger Doug said...

Seriously. Taking responsibility; what a concept.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 1:17:00 AM  
Blogger Zeppellina said...

Firstly, I would like to extend my sympathies to the innocent victims family and loved ones.
This is a horrific incident, which, quite frankly, should never have happened.
There are serious questions to be answered now.
When the armed police became resident on the streets after the bombings, I, like others, viewed this with apprehension.
Yes, there are Armed Response Units in every City, but routinely armed Policemen on our streets is not something that we wish for our country.
This is a horrific example of what can happen.
Eye-witnesses say that the man was pinned down before an officer `pumped 5 shots into the mans head`
If he was pinned down...why shoot?
Sorry, of course pinned down people use telepathy to detonate bombs.
Not good enough. An innocent man was murdered on the underground.
This has alarmed the Muslim community even further.
I often run to catch an underground train...if I looked Asian..would I be shot?
Too many questions, and no answers so far. I would like to see a response from the government in parliament about this incident..and soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I didn't know he was under custody when it happened. much for the days of police not carrying weapons...

But you see in our posts here how low our standards in the US have become. We welcome even some responsibility taken by the government in any way, shape, or form.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Demotiki said...


Your point about "running for the train" came to mind as soon as I read the discriptions of the event described by bystanders. Trying to catch a departing train is not unusual, nor a crime. The argument that this individual came out of a watched building and then "gasp" boarded a train! How do most people get around? Is it so rare for a man to 1. Leave home and 2. Board a train? If we were to shoot everyone who met those criteria, the cure would be worse than the sicknes.

I understand why the police overacted. If they really thought this guy was about to blow them and everyone else up, they would be very motivated to shoot him in the head. I don't blame them as individuals - they made a very difficult choice in a very difficult situation.

However, this incident demonstrates the need for new rules of conduct that will deal with similar situations. Properly trained officers would be less likely to jump to conclusions. Police should be given bomb sniffing dogs or other devices to determine if a suspect has a bomb. Shooting someone in the head because he "looks" like he has a bomber is just plain insane. Clearly there needs to be an investigation.

I agree with you that having armed police on the streets sucks. It's also unnecessary. In America, yes, because we have so many f*ckin' guns on the streets. However, I lived in Japan (where there are practically no guns) and I can't remember ever seeing a policeman, let alone an armed policeman. In some sense, the more armed police you have, the less civilized your country is. By that standard America is pretty bad off.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 2:21:00 PM  
Blogger Zeppellina said...

Hi guys,
Sorry doug, didn`t mean to sound critical of the comments. Yes, it is good that they owned up, but they have to here, under tight guidlines.
We are just a bit scared of losing our Civil rights under the guise of anti-terrorism.
The last thing we want is routinely armed police on the streets. It is not part of our culture.
There is a song called "Dangerous Times" by Chuck Brodsky, from the US, which sums it all up really.
Lyrics can be found on his site on the internet. A few radio stations played it here, on and off, last year.
This is actually the 2nd guy to be shot like this, by accident. A Scottish guy carrying a table-leg which he had made, and heading home with it was shot dead by police because some idiot phoned in and said that there was an Irish guy carrying a gun.
I agree demotiki, that there need to be stricter guidlines in place to avoid further innocents being gunned down.
This is not a gun culture here, and we don`t need it to turn into one!
Oh! Forgot, the poor guy was an much for the surveillance on the house he came out of..and the police who chased him were plain clothed....If people not in uniform, carrying guns chased me..don`t think I`d hang around to find out why!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2005 2:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Oh, don't apologize for being critical...that's what debate is all about!

Monday, July 25, 2005 2:01:00 AM  
Blogger A.T. said...

Having been a police officer, I can assure you that the idea that police officers need guns in America only/primarily because criminals have them is incorrect oversimplification. Truth of the matter is that the use-of-force continuum requires an officer to be able to bring superior force to bear in any given situation, but only "one step" above that brought to bear by the suspect. If a suspect wields a knife, an officer absolutely has to be able to move above that level of force in order to prevent his own loss of life and those of others. Same even goes for facing a blunt-force wielding assailant.

It is utterly appropriate to arm police officers and a dereliction of public responsibility to send them into their life-defending duty without reasonably superior defensive capabilities. Like it or not, that always must include a firearm. That should rise above cultural preferences.

Monday, July 25, 2005 2:48:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...


Your theory is interesting, but not born out by real world observation. By any measure, crime rates in both the U.K. and Japan are far lower than in the United States. Violent crime in particular is much lower. This situation exists, despite the fact that the police in Japan and the UK are sent onto the street without firearms. While you might think it a "dereliction of public responsibility," it works great for them.

Did you know that more individuals die from accidental police shootings in the US each year than die in firearm homicides in Japan each year? It's not even close, we win by a mile. Not that this means anything, but it's interesting just the same. I guess culture does mean something.


Monday, July 25, 2005 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...

Your fundamental error, though, is justification via statistics. First of all, you assume "causality" via statistics, when you're really performing extrapolation based upon a priori causal assumptions.

Regardless, how do statistics justify sending a police officer into deadly situations without the means to defend his life? This seems to me to be sacrificing the lives of these public servants in the attempt to - given your assumptions anyway - protect some greater good in the culture.

I do agree with you that your claim regarding the two statistics doesn't mean anything. Although you then say it does mean something (re culture) so I'm confused.

Anyhow, I'm still trying to understand the justification for sending police officers into situations where an assailant will bring deadly force to bear without giving the officer equal or superior force to protect their own life. This seems wholly unjust and ridiculous. Why would you do that, knowing officers would needlessly die?

Monday, July 25, 2005 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Zeppellina said...

Interestingly though, allen, when asked, most of our regular policemen said they did not want to routinely carry guns.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 8:18:00 PM  
Blogger A.T. said...

So you're advocating giving each of them the choice, then? I'd agree with that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger Demotiki said...


You don't know what situation a police officer will be going into before he enters it. Of course a police officer responding to a situation including a firearm should carry a firearm. However, since the vast majority of situations a police officer will enter in Japan or the UK will not involve a firearm, it would be silly to have all officers carry a firearm. Using your rational, all citizens should be armed because they too may eventually need to have a firearm to deal with a dangerous situation.

Part of the rational in the UK is that police are there to observe and investigate crimes. They are not there to use force on regular citizens on a rutine basis. This difference does strongly influence the culture. People in the UK and Japan look at the Police as "one of us" where in the US most people have a very negative (rightly I believe) perception of the police.

In the end, it is all about culture. The interaction between the police and the citizens they serve is extremely important. Many Americans feel that heavily armed police are arrogant and act as if they were above the law. For example, police in the United States do not follow regular traffic laws. Police in Japan and the UK do not behave this way, and work more closely with the general population. Crime is lower in these countries and the unarmed friendly beat cops are responsible.

American culture greatly respects the use of lethal force. The knee-jerk reaction of many Americans to a great variety of problems is to use force. Unfortunately, brute force remains brute.

However, if you thought I believed that UK officers sould confront terrorists with "pea shooters" you are mistaken. If officers are responding to a situation where deadly force is likely, they should be armed. However, to place heavily armed police throughout London because there "might" be a terrorist, is a mistake. It's akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Having "soldiers" in the streets is not the same thing as having peace. In fact, it is a very different thing indeed.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005 9:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Why can't the industrialized world get together and create scanners that can sniff out explosives, firearms, etc., using or enhancing imaging technology? Wouldn't that help?

Anything not terror-related that showed up would be deemed inadmissable in any court of law, with certain exceptions (all pertaining to violent crime; i.e., you see a joint, you don't get to prosecute, even though it's illegal). That would -- at least at this sketchy level -- satisfy a civil libertarian like me.

Let's use technology in a non-Orwellian way to deter and prevent as many of these acts as possible.

I wonder what percentage of, say, the price tag of the war in Iraq, or, say, the silliness of SDI, would suffice to bring such a scanning system to fruition and distribution to major cities? Something tells me this would be an easy sell tax-money-wise, and would help seed growth in high-tech firms. Something all political types could buy into...

What do you think?

Certainly, shooting brown people with backpacks isn't the solution, and that's with all due respect to Allen's experience as a cop. The point is to break out of the ridiculous and avoidable dichotomy of "do nothing" and "shoot to kill anyone who looks fishy."

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide people into two kinds and those who don't. Usually, the productive answer (whether what I just wrote is or not) comes out of thinking outside the dichotomous box, moving to basic principles: we gotta do something to interdict terror (while getting at root causes, which will take years or decades) without turning ourselves into totalitarian states. I really think a species whose members figured out relativity and painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling is up to this relatively mundane, but incredibly important, challenge.

Whaddya all think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 5:42:00 PM  

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