July 26, 2005
Which part of "Stop" didn't he understand?
The death of the Brazilian electrician at the hands of the police seems to have been a tragic end to a series of misunderstandings or perhaps even the outcome of a silly game. Some reports state that the dead man may have been playing a game with friends and thought the shouted orders to stop were from them - a failure of reality that cost him his life. By all accounts he had a very good command of English, so the language barrier does not seem to have been a problem.
Then there is some unexplained behaviour to be taken into account - not least his reported vaulting of the ticket barriers (quite feat in itself!) and running down an escalator to dive onto a train. By this stage the police were probably alarmed that he might indeed be a bomber and not a courier! He had left a building that housed a number of suspects from the earlier bombings, and when he emerged on a relatively warm day in a padded jacket it will have raised fears that he had a device hidden under it. The decision to shoot will almost certainly have been made with the very real threat in mind that if he did have a bomb the struggle, or a deliberate triggering could cause a very serious incident. So the armed officer pulled the trigger at close range and - a death ensued.
All deaths are a human tragedy, especially those which could have been avoided. I do not agree though, with the lobby that says the police should be disarmed, charged with murder and all the rest of the liberal garbage they usually spout. Dealing with terrorists is not easy, dealing with homicidal terrorists whose idea of paradise is to blow yourself up in order to win a place in a heaven populated by "perpetual virgins" is even more difficult. There is, as the Israeli's can testify, only one way to prevent a suicide bomber from blowing up his or her bomb. You shoot them in the head.
Tragically, that is what our police thought they were dealing with. They got it wrong this time, but what if they had not been wrong? What if he had been carrying a real bomb and had got onto that train and blown it up?
Perhaps this is something those who are now claiming to have been "traumatised" should consider. My sympathies lie with the dead man's family and with the police officers who had to make a snap call under extremely fraught conditions. No one wants to see another person die, least of all a policeman, but sometimes that is what it takes to keep everyone else alive.
We should all pray for the victim, the victim's family - and especially for the policeman who pulled the trigger. They will all need our prayers in the coming days.
Posted by The Gray Monk at July 26, 2005 02:50 PM
I agree with what you say - the police do indeed have a difficult job. Why did they not stop him before he went into the tube? I listened to a radio presenter last week who suggested that the reason he ran away was cultural - apparently the police in poor areas of Sao Paulo are extremely brutal, and do things like that on a regular basis. It's tragic nevertheless. All will hopefully be revealed in the inquiry. As for the terrorist's vision of paradise: someone forgot to tell them that it's not 70 virgins awaiting them, but a 70 year-old virgin!
Posted by: Slim Jim at July 26, 2005 11:34 AM