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November 16, 2005


Keeps getting better doesn’t it?

The Brazilian man shot dead by police in the mistaken belief that he was a suicide bomber was killed with a type of bullet banned in warfare under international convention, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The firing of hollow point ammunition into the head of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, is believed to be the first use of the bullets by British police.

November 16, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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The coppers use hollow point bullets precisely because they disintegrate on impact (doing horrible things to your insides as a result) - the argument being that if they used steel jacketed rounds (as the military do) they are more than likely to go through whoever they hit and then hit/kill/maim other people in close proximity to the target.

I'm not saying its a particularly nice idea (I'd personally prefer it if the police didn't shoot any one at all) but if they going to shot some one its probably best if the rounds don't also kill other people close to the target.

(Just don't get me started on the mercury filled hydra-shock armour piercing ammo the american police use - now there's a truly horrible thing to have hit you - even peripheral wounds can get contaminated with mercury leading to tissue death and other complications.)

Posted by: tom | Nov 16, 2005 10:12:27 AM

The British Police have been using hollow points for donkey's years. This was in no way a "first use" situation. As per the previous commentator - hollow points are used because they are more effective than jacketed ammunition when used to stop a perpetrator. Is the implication that the police should use "gentler" ammunition? Perhaps .22 jacketed short rounds would suffice. Much more humane perhaps. Bit of a bugger for the police and any bystanders when the cop has to shoot the perp about 40 or 50 times to bring them down. This story is yet more manufactured hysteria from the British press ( see related White Phosphorus nonsense). I am disappointed that the Telegraph could produce such utterly ill-informed, plainly ignorant shite.

Posted by: JonT | Nov 16, 2005 11:15:47 AM

The reason the hollow point is banned under the Hague Declaration is because of the general dislike of injured soldiers being left to die gradually on a battlefield. Clean kills were preferred at the time (though the last fifty years has seen the adoption of 'shoot to injure' as deliberate strategy to tie down enemy resources).

In civilian use this shouldn't apply, as access to hospital and other medical aid (particularly after a police shooting) should be easy. So the reasoning is rather different, and the need not to hurt by-standers becomes more important.

There has been substantial controversy within armed units over 'to hollow point or not'. Manchester Police used to use them and then moved away in the 90s, and are now rumoured to have moved back. Forces in the South around the Met all used it in the 80s and 90s. Only the Met held out, and that might have been more official than real. So, like the above correspondent said, 'no way is this the first use'

Posted by: Bertie | Nov 16, 2005 11:33:13 AM

This is such a non point - as other commenters say, the use of (to give it its correct name) expanding ammunition is both legal & expedient.

& before the gun grabbers / GFWs get in a real tiz .... I have several hundred rounds of expanding ammo in my gun safe. Just so you all know

Posted by: Mr Free Market | Nov 16, 2005 1:08:06 PM

This striks me as a diversionary scare to try and divert attention away from the real debate which is: "How on God's green earth did Plod make such a monumental stuff up?"

As Tom says the ideal is for the cops never to have to kill anyone, but since we don't live in a perfect world we have to accept that armed policemen will sometimes have to kill naughty people.

From here the arguement as to which ammunition to use becomes a purely technical one: what is the quickest and safest means (for other people) to put a malefactor on the ground permenantly.

Anybody who has hunted will tell you that hollow point/expanding rounds are the most humane way to kill an animal. They dump all their energy into the target without whizzing out the other side. Over penetration has two effects. Firstly it can leave the target alive (to die a horrible death if an animal or to continue with its mischief if human). The second is to have a still lethal projectile flying through the air on the other side of the target.

The big question isn't what tools the coppers should have, it's whether the coppers carrying those tools are being selected, trained and briefed properly before they go out onto the streets carrying lethal weapons.


Posted by: Remittance Man | Nov 16, 2005 3:40:32 PM

Yeah…well…frankly Tim, what did you except from Sir/Herr Ian and his gang of trigger-merry Met thugs?

BLIAR N°2’s “liberal” consumption of banned ammos, and his copious use of Soviet-style technocratic metaphors to describe “substantial advances in cross-departmental law enforcement coordination” and the ensuing “optimization of shoot-to-kill operational procedures” should come as no surprise: after all the guy was a radical Trotskyite activist when he read European literature at Oxford in the early 1970’s…

This “scientific” socialist rearing undoubtedly made him perfect (im)moral material for a “Neocon”/Nouveau Labour epiphany in the late 1980s!

His past-pinko partners in crime at the White House underwent similar “transformational conversions” when they met Ronald Reagan/Jesus Krist/Irving Kristol/Yahweh/General Sharon/blah blah blah…

If anything, I’m surprised we haven’t (yet?) sprayed Bradford with phosphorus-based “efficient urban pacification vectors”…would allow us to reach our “annual urban tranquility targets” much faster…remind me to send a detailed memo to McKinsey and Downing Street.

We simply can’t let dark-skinned Mohammedan terrorists and their mischievous masters Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein destroy our way of life with their poisonous Gallic Gaullist soufflés and other radioactive “yellow cakes” cum hummus sauce cooked in the dirty Baathist/terrorist/Islamo-fascist kitchens of Damascus and Tickrit.

Long live Liberty!
Long live Tony Blair!
Long live Shariaa-based Islamic Law and the institutionalized persecution of second-class citizen such as women and Christians in “grand” Ayatollah Sistani’s “free Iraq” for which we’ve spent a mere £80 billion in taxpayers money!
Long live our Liberty-loving social-democratic friend His Wahhâbiness King Abdullah Al-Saud and his coterie of famously enlightened clerical friends of freedom!

Dr Victorino de la Vega
Chair of the Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies

Posted by: Dr Victorino de la Vega | Nov 16, 2005 6:42:52 PM

I think the Hague conventions banned hollow points because they were thought to be maiming for no purpose. The reasoning: men wounded by jacketed rounds were likely to be hurt enough to stop fighting in the immediate action.

But regardless of what experts thought a century ago the police have to deal with today. It would be very nice if they could instantly choose just how lethal their bullet could be. Alas, we send them out on tasks with imperfect tools.

The London shooting seems to have been a botch of human judgement. But what bullet would have made multiple shots into the head any better? I suspect the last few rounds went through, the first shots having removed any head to hit.

A horrible subject. Those commentors who said the problem was not the bullets but the shoting are correct.

Posted by: K | Nov 16, 2005 8:16:58 PM

Dr Vic: "the Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies" - why attach the name of More to a region of the world with few protestants to murder?

Posted by: dearieme | Nov 16, 2005 11:20:08 PM

The real question here is, how many of you would care to be hit (or have o loved one killed) by one of the THREE hollow point rounds that missed their target from point-blank range?

Posted by: Stuart | Nov 17, 2005 12:35:28 AM

Hollow point is banned on the battlefield, but it is entirely legal for use in internal security matters. All that matters is that the Home Office approves the type of ammunition.

The issue is why he was shot, not what with.

Posted by: PoliticalHackUK | Nov 17, 2005 1:02:43 AM

Interesting though, isn't it, that it is precisely those who want to see the RIF War as a law enforcement problem who are also most likely to want to bind the police with the laws of war?

Posted by: Tom Kratman | Nov 17, 2005 1:01:14 PM