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LONDON : A senior London police officer in charge of an anti-terror swoop that ended in the mistaken killing of an innocent Brazilian man had ordered her men to take him alive, a newspaper said.
Metropolitan Police Commander Cressida Dick instructed officers tailing Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, to detain him before he entered a subway station on July 22, the Daily Mirror tabloid reported.
Despite the command, a firearms team followed the electrician onto a train at Stockwell station, south London, and shot him dead at point blank range after wrongly suspecting him of being a suicide bomber.
The report adds a further twist to a tale of error and misfortune that led to the slaying of de Menezes one day after four would-be bombers tried but failed to repeat the July 7 attacks on subway trains and a bus that killed 56.
Documents, leaked on Tuesday, contradicted initial police and witness statements about the chain of events and triggered calls for Metropolitan Police chief Ian Blair to resign.
"There's no doubt that Commander Dick did not instruct anyone to shoot de Menezes," a senior source at Scotland Yard was quoted as telling the Mirror.
"The gun team were there as a precaution. It looks as if they didn't have time to tell them to grab the man, not shoot him dead," the source said. "The difference between de Menezes living and dying may have been five seconds."
De Menezes' death, which uncovered a controversial shoot to kill policy adopted by the police, came at a particularly high state of alert in London.
Dick, in charge of surveillance, was told that the electrician had left flats that were being watched at Tulse Hill, south London, the tabloid said.
He boarded a bus and had been overheard buying a ticket for Stockwell station, the Mirror said.
"Commander Dick told the surveillance team the man should be detained as soon as possible -- and before he got inside the station," it added.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating the shooting, will ask if Dick's orders ever reached the armed squad on the ground and, if they did, whether they were ignored, according to the paper.