updated 10/8/2007 9:59:22 PM ET 2007-10-09T01:59:22

An undercover officer who pinned an innocent Brazilian man to his subway seat as he was shot by police told a British court Monday that he was close enough to the victim to feel the shock wave from a fellow officer’s gun.

The surveillance officer, code named Ivor, said he followed 27-year-old electrician Jean Charles de Menezes — wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber — into London’s Underground system before confronting him when he stepped on to a train two years ago.

“I grabbed Mr. de Menezes, wrapping both my arms around the torso, pinning his arms against his side, pushing him back to the seat with the right hand side of my head against the right hand side of his torso, pinning him to the seat,” Ivor said.

“After a few moments I felt his head turn towards me. I was aware of a CO19 (firearms) officer kneeling on the seat to my left. I heard a gunshot very close to my left ear and was hit by a shock wave of a gun being discharged.”

The jury hearing the case that began last week is to decide whether police violated health and safety laws when de Menezes was killed July 15, 2005, a day after would-be suicide bombers botched an attack on London’s transit system.

Prosecutors say police killed de Menezes and put the lives of others at risk during an anti-terrorism operation because of flawed planning and chaos at headquarters. Police argue the killing was a traffic error, not a crime.

Shot seven times in the head
Ivor was one of several officers who had followed de Menezes from an apartment building that was put under surveillance after police found the address on a gym membership card left at the scene of one of the failed attacks.

Ivor said he acted instinctively against the Brazilian, who was shot seven times in the head.

“Given the nature of the subject we were deployed against I had to make an assessment within seconds,” he said. “I was obviously concerned that he may be carrying arms or had explosives in his possession which could be a threat to the public on the carriage.”

Police have accepted responsibility in de Menezes’ death, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled out disciplinary action against the surveillance and firearms officers involved. A decision on whether four senior officers should be disciplined has been deferred until after the trial.

The penalty for a conviction under health and safety laws is an unlimited fine.

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