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UK jury refuses to clear police in de Menezes killing

  • Story Highlights
  • Jean Charles de Menezes shot dead by police on July 22, 2005
  • Jury unable to establish cause of death -- such as lawful killing, accidental death
  • Jury: Police who shot de Menezes did not shout a warning before firing at him
  • Shooting happened the day after the failed suicide bombings in London
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Jurors at the inquest into the mistaken shooting of an unarmed Brazilian man the day after the failed suicide bombings in London returned an open verdict in the case Friday, the coroner's spokesman said.

A memorial to Jean Charles de Menezes outside Stockwell tube station in south London

File image of Jean Charles de Menezes

An open verdict means the jury was unable to establish a cause of death -- such as lawful killing or accidental death -- for the July 22, 2005 shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by police.

The coroner at the inquest, who acted as the judge, had told the jury members they could not return a verdict of unlawful killing.

Jurors found that the police who shot de Menezes did not shout a warning before firing at him. They also found that de Menezes did not advance toward firearms officers on the subway train at Stockwell station in south London, giving them a reason to shoot.

"The decision today will not bring our cousin Jean back," his family said in a statement. "However, it goes at least some way to recognizing the failings that led to his death."

The inquest opened September 22 at the Oval Cricket Ground in southeast London and jurors deliberated for a week.

Separate proceedings last year examined whether London's Metropolitan Police Service broke health and safety laws in the shooting. It did not examine the cause of death.

The jury in that case found the police guilty of breaching the laws.

"The death of Jean Charles de Menezes was a tragedy," acting Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said after Friday's verdict. "He was an innocent man and we do accept full responsibility for his death. For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is something the Metropolitan Police Service deeply regrets."

The shooting happened the day after four failed bombings aboard the London transit system and two weeks after four suicide bombers blew apart three London subway trains and a bus, killing 52 people and wounding 977.

The city was on edge as police sought the four failed bombers.

Officers staking out a home in south London saw and followed de Menezes, 27, believing he was one of the suspects. They trailed him as he traveled on a bus and into a subway station, where they chased him onto the platform and shot him dead.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission concluded last year that de Menezes was innocent of anything that might have justified police action.

"We made a most terrible mistake," Stephenson said, adding police needed to learn from the incident. "I am sorry."

The shooting was one of several issues that led to the resignation this year of Police Commissioner Ian Blair. Stephenson is the acting commissioner until a permanent replacement is found.

De Menezes' family called the proceedings a "whitewash" because jurors were not allowed to consider a verdict of unlawful killing. They said they would be requesting a judicial review of the coroner's decision.

"We will also be examining all other legal avenues because we feel that the coroner has ensured that the inquest failed in its fundamental role to properly examine why our cousin Jean was killed," the family said. "As the legal situation stands today, another innocent member of the public could be shot and another family could go through the same ordeal as us."

All About LondonLondon Metropolitan PoliceJean Charles de Menezes

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