LONDON, July 23 — The man shot dead by police in front of terrified passengers inside a subway car Friday was an innocent Brazilian bystander mistaken for a suspect in the abortive bomb attacks the day before, police officials acknowledged Saturday. The officials said the man emerged from the same South London apartment complex as a prime suspect in the failed bombings of three subway trains and a double-decker bus, and was followed by armed plainclothes officers to a nearby subway station. They gave chase fearing the man was preparing to attack a train, police officials said. The officers pushed him to the floor of the car and shot him five times in the head at close range, according to witnesses, who gave searing accounts broadcast on television and radio. Under guidelines adopted in recent years, officers are advised to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head to prevent them from setting off explosives.
Police identified the man as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, a Brazilian citizen. The mistaken shooting set off a new wave of alarm and criticism from leaders of Britain’s minority Muslim community, who expressed concern that police are singling out men with certain physical characteristics or ethnic backgrounds in their pursuit of the would-be bombers, believed to be Muslims of South Asian or North African origin. . . The shooting took place under shoot-to-kill guidelines adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States under the name “Operation Kratos” to deal with the threat of suicide bombers. While officials would not publicly discuss the guidelines, sources told British reporters that a senior officer is authorized to deploy special armed units to track and, if necessary, shoot dead suspected suicide bombers. The officers are advised to shoot such assailants in the head to keep them from setting off explosives. The guidelines are based in part on procedures used by the Israeli authorities in intercepting suicide bombers. (MORE)