The Murder of Jean Charles de Menezes

07/28/2005 09:42 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A few days ago I wrote a post arguing that Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man murdered by British police under a new "shoot in the head" policy, was killed because he was (relatively) dark-skinned and happened to live in the same building as the most recent group of London subway bombers. Police explained that they shot an innocent man five times in the head because he was wearing a "bulky jacket" and had jumped the turnstile. "I'd like to see a photo of that bulky jacket," I wrote.

While a number of posters agreed with me that Menezes' death was both a tragedy and a travesty, quite a few took the police accounts at face value and suggested that it was somehow his fault.

Now, of course, it turns out that Menezes neither jumped the turnstile nor was wearing a bulky jacket, unless you consider a jean jacket particularly cumbersome.

Somehow I have the feeling that the more we learn about this incident, the more it's going to look like a collection of small [but significant] police mistakes, lack of training, and heightened anxiety. In other words, unjustifiable.

Perhaps this sad episode will force people to think hard before rationalizing the most extreme forms of violence -- whether it's torture at Abu Ghraib or a bullet to the head in the London tube -- in the newly-named war against extremism.