Movers and shakers: The de Menezes family
Since Jean Charles de Menezes was mistakenly shot by Metropolitan Police officers at Stockwell tube on Friday July 22 2005, his family has fought to bring those responsible to justice. But this year has been tough. In July, the Crown Prosecution Service charged the Met under health and safety legislation, which meant no individual could be held responsible for the crime. Then in September Commander Cressida Dick, the officer widely believed to have given the go-ahead to shoot, was promoted to deputy assistant commissioner of the Met (see 4).
In November, one of the officers involved in Jean’s death shot another man dead while on duty. On December 5, the family will apply for a judicial review of the CPS’s decision. We spoke to Patricia da Silva Armani (31, left) and Vivien Figueiredo (22, right), two of the four cousins of Jean who live in London – and who were sharing a house with him at the time of his death.
When did you last see Jean?Vivien Figueiredo I saw him on the Thursday, the day before he was killed. He was cooking and he started talking about his life, how he’d come here from his small town in Brazil, where he wanted to go in life. Looking back now, it feels like he was unconsciously saying goodbye.
How did you find out about his death?Patricia da Silva Armani We were called to the police station on Saturday. I was sitting with Vivien and Alex, another cousin, in the police station, and because my English is so bad I couldn’t understand what was happening. But the others have better English and suddenly Vivien started to cry and Alex became really angry and upset. I asked Alex, ‘What’s going on?’ And he told me: ‘Jean Charles was shot at Stockwell because the police thought he was a terrorist.’ I was in shock. I couldn’t cry or do anything. I felt like the floor had just opened and I was falling through it.
What are your memories of Jean in London?VF My best memories are of how he helped me settle in. He was the first of the cousins to arrive here and he was the one who introduced London to me. I remember I used to go with him to the Virgin Megastore in Piccadilly, which he loved, as well as Brasil by Kilo, the Brazilian restaurant on Oxford Street. I also have a good memory of going to the Notting Hill Carnival with him – but he said it didn’t compare to the one in Brazil!
What did you think about Cressida Dick’s promotion?VF I was very offended, very upset by it. The investigation is not yet finished and officers are still not prosecuted, so why should she be promoted now? As for the recent shooting by the officer involved in Jean’s death, I am not surprised. I expected it. He is protected by the law.
TO What would you like to see happen now?PA The police should admit it was a mistake and should stop giving excuses. We want the police actions on the day to be revealed and the shoot-to-kill policy reviewed. VF It is fine for the police to carry firearms, but they need to be sure they are using them in the right circumstances. Shooting someone should be the last route of action.
What about people who say, ‘It’s the price we pay in the fight against terror’?PA People who say that haven’t experienced what we have been through personally. If a British person was shot in this way, their reaction would be very different.
Has the shooting changed how you feel about London, or the British?PA The system in Brazil is not perfect. But when I left I thought that English democracy would mean corruption wouldn’t happen here. Now I think the police are corrupt everywhere, not just where we come from, or in Third World countries.
What keeps you going?PA The belief that something needs to be done. I want to remind the police and whoever needs to know that nothing has been done for my innocent cousin and I won’t rest until something is done. www.justice4jean.com
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