30 – Exploiting the “Damsel in Distress” Narrative

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There are two aspects to explore in this chapter regarding the failure of D49 to supposedly respond to the attack by Adebolajo which we are led to believe was directed at her. The first is about the decisions taken by the police; as pointed out, we can’t really judge these against the training that the officers were meant to have had, but we can make a judgement based on common sense which might help us understand if the decisions made were realistic or not. The second aspect is the creation of the idea of D49, the female officer, as a damsel in distress in order to further demonise Adebolajo. It’s not certain that there was an original decision taken by police to try and prejudice the two perpetrators in the first instance by having them attack a helpless woman – this in addition to the initial tool of causing a reaction as discussed in the previous chapter.

However, it was something that was clearly generated by an interpretation of events after the incident; the fact that the prosecution obviously made a conscious decision to appeal to sympathy for D49 is not a figment of the author’s imagination. The meme was clearly carried into the public domain through the reportage for anyone to detect. This is what the Mirror wrote in its description of the footage that is released:

The brave WPC first on the scene at the Woolwich beheading came within inches of death, as this exclusive Daily Mirror footage shows.

The driver, unable to draw her firearm, is saved by a male colleague in the back who fires his machine-gun through his window at a suspect who is charging at her.

Woolwich attack video: Watch shocking footage of terrorists charging at police car in attempt to kill WPC[1]; Nigel Atkins et al; 24 May 2013.

As we shall see, the claim that D49 was close to death is hyperbole. Notice how this makes her brave (rather than, for instance, incompetent), and notice how the point is made abundantly clear that she had a male saviour. The Establishment in Britain finds that it can have it both ways. A woman is a man’s equal by joining the police, but a criminal is more terrible if he attacks a woman officer than if he attacks a male one.

So now we will examine how this meme of D49 as a potential defenceless victim of Adebolajo’s aggression was created both in the course of the incident, whether deliberately or by accident we are yet to discover, and then in court – definitely deliberately – as an interpretation of events that we could all see playing out in the Mirror Footage. The following is from D49’s written testimony:

I saw a black male running at me waving both his hands in the air in a chopping motion. In his right hand I saw what I call a meat cleaver or a machete

I instantly thought ‘he’s going to kill me’. I went to draw my Glock. Due to my position in the car – the internal door has a panel jutting out – I could not immediately draw my Glock out due to this. It was a split second decision to draw my Taser.

Lee Rigby attacker rushed at officer with machete, court hears[2]; Vikram Dodd et al; 03 December 2013.

Proceeding, D49 said that she opened the door to get out of the car and heard shots from behind her – or as it has been reported:

D49 said she heard shots and saw her colleague E48 in the aim position with an MP5 carbine.

Lee Rigby murder trial: CCTV shows moment police shoot armed men in Woolwich street after the killing of soldier[3]; Paul Cheston; 03 December 2013.

This quote, of course, refers to the rifle that requires permission for unlocking from its safe box. So, the idea that we are being fed is that D49, with only her Taser, is between the rampant Adebolajo and a man with a rifle in “aim position”. More testimony added to the picture in terms of how immediate that threat was when the pose-striking hero intervened:

I opened my door to get out and heard shots from behind me. I think the suspect was about one metre away from my door at this point.

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as police officer tells court of moment she thought she would be killed[4]; Paul Cockerton; 03 December 2013.

It doesn’t matter if this claim about the distance is true or false – this is D49’s impression of events, and this is the whole point. If she wanted to state a fact, then she could have looked at the footage – it was available to everyone on the internet, so there is no reason why it wasn’t available to her. However, if it turns out that Adebolajo was in fact more than 20 feet away (we’ll look at this more exactly momentarily) then it wouldn’t quite have the desired effect. The point is, what we are clearly being given here is emotive interpretation – and it is very surprising that it was tolerated. D49 was not a victim; she shouldn’t have given what amounted to a victim’s response to the crime that has become a feature of the British criminal trials.

Reinforcing the “damsel in distress” meme was the testimony from E48 – the rifleman. He revealed that he was motivated by the fact that, according to his professional judgement, Adebowale’s attack was targeted at the police woman; this is some of his testimony:

I see these two males. The male who ran at the car, my attention was absorbed by him. He was holding a knife in his hand.

He started to move towards our vehicle. Almost instantly he broke into a sprint. I realised we were being attacked and we had very little time to deal with that threat.

The driver is trapped and unable to defend herself. I seemed to react instinctively.

The second he started sprinting at us I made the decision to fire and until he fell away from the vehicle I was still in the frame of mind I needed to take decisive action to stop him.

Recap: Lee Rigby trial updates as police officer tells court of moment she thought she would be killed[5]; Paul Cockerton; 03 December 2013.

Just as a point of interest, consider this extract which basically is reporting the same testimony as immediately above. However, notice the interpretation of E48’s appraisal of D49’s situation:

E48, who gave evidence from behind a screen, told the court he opened fire because a suspect ran towards the police car while D49 was “absolutely defenceless”. He added: “The second he started sprinting to us in possession of that knife, I made a decision to fire. I was in the frame of mind I needed to take that decisive action to stop him. I was entirely focused on the man I had just shot.”

Video: Shocking moment Lee Rigby’s alleged killers charge armed police with deadly weapons[6]; Adrian Shaw; 03 December 2013.

Here is another account of E48’s testimony, this time with much more detail:

“He started to move towards the vehicle which started to raise my perception of the threat,” the officer said.

“He almost instantly broke into a sprint and I realised we were being attacked. We had very little time to deal with the threat.

“He was coming at us.”

The officer said that his colleague driving the car, D49, was left “essentially unable to defend herself”.

He told the court: “She was defenceless, she had a pane of glass to protect herself, it was not ballistic glass.”

The marksman opened fire on Adebolajo as he ran towards the car, telling the jury he was in “the frame of mind” that the suspect posed a threat.

“The second he started sprinting at us still in possession of that knife I made the decision to fire and until he fell away from the vehicle I was still in the frame of mind and I needed to take that decisive action to stop him.”

Woolwich: Police Officer ‘Feared Being Killed’[7]; Staff writer; 03 December 2013.

Clearly, then, the two police officers painted a certain picture through interpretation of events, and explanation of rationalisations made. However, we must also notice that D49, at least, omitted facts in order to maintain that picture. Notice in the quotes above that she claimed that Adebolajo was holding a machete in his right hand as he attacked her. This is not true. Adebolajo made an adjustment as he was running towards the car (see Figs. 121 & 122). However, the author has not been able to find any reports in which D49 states that she saw Adebolajo drop the cleaver – it wasn’t a machete – and swap from his left hand to his right the smaller knife that he had also been holding. All that could be found was this slight elaboration as a variation on the same theme:

In his right hand there was a meat cleaver and/or a machete. It was silver with rust on. I saw something in his left hand and instantly thought he is going to kill me.

Lee Rigby murder trial: CCTV shows moment police shoot armed men in Woolwich street after the killing of soldier[8]; Paul Cheston; 03 December 2013.

Fig. 121 – Adebolajo is in the process of bring the chef’s knife from his left to right hand.
Fig. 121 – Adebolajo is in the process of bring the chef’s knife from his left to right hand.

Fig. 122 – a fraction of a second earlier than the moment in Fig.121; Adebolajo drops the cleaver.
Fig. 122 – a fraction of a second earlier than the moment in Fig.121; Adebolajo drops the cleaver.

As previously stated, the author might not be in possession of all the court testimony, but it would be very poor indeed if it turns out that D49 did not state this swap over as a fact – and it was a fact because it was captured on both the Council and the Mirror Footage – but instead allowed the court to continue to believe that she was being chased down with a man with a machete and who was chopping this implement in the air as he bore closer. Moreover, when one looks at the Mirror Footage, we can see that when the first shot sounds, Adebolajo is more than 6 feet away from the car – possibly 10 feet; this is a lot more than 1 metre. The other thing to note is that Adebolajo had advanced on a curve that bent outwards, and then back inwards again. When he was shot at first, he was going past the driver’s door. If we accepted that this interchange was real, we could argue that in fact it was the rear door of the ARV that was opened furthest, thus presenting a better target for Adebolajo – with his knife. While the police could say he might have been a general threat, arguably he hadn’t targeted the police woman.

Indeed, Adebolajo didn’t actually attack police with a knife, and it might have been a stretch to argue he did in court. Of course, one can say that he didn’t get a chance, but the video clearly shows him on a path whereby he would have skirted the car rather than impact with it. It is difficult to understand what Adebolajo though he was going to do if the police in the ARV merely closed the doors. Additionally, it’s very interesting to note that the jury cleared Adebolajo and Adebowale of attempted murder, and conspiracy to murder police. In fact, it seems as though the matter was not pressed very much by the prosecution. There were statements made by eye-witnesses to the media on the day about Adebolajo claiming he was wanting to have a showdown with the authorities, but nothing about that was brought forward to the trial. Could this be recognition that, despite all that was stated by the police officer witnesses, the evidence shows that neither Adebowale nor Adebolajo did try to kill police?

This brings us to a place where we can review the idea of the police woman, D49, being in mortal danger and defenceless from Adebolajo – in short, this is a complete exaggeration. Furthermore, if the reader revisits the first quote in this chapter, it should strike him or her strange that D49 should mention that she calls a cleaver a machete – this is not a fact pertaining to the case. So, consider what it is that she is doing my making this statement. She is saying that Adebolajo was not actually threatening her with an instrument that could be mistaken for a short sword, but she felt as if he was. This is not serious testimony. It was remarked upon already that D49 was in fact delivering testimony that emulated a victim’s response statement – here is more confirmation. D49 was allowed to testify about how she was under the impression that she was under attack from a man with a short sword – regardless of whether or not it actually constituted any actual facts. It needs stating again: it is surprising that she is allowed to do this to the detriment of the facts – which it clearly was. Furthermore, with the use of the word ‘machete’ she showed that a) she hadn’t observed the situation as she perhaps should have, or b) she was deliberately embellishing her story to prejudice Adebolajo. Both are unacceptable. Obviously, any kind of real defence lawyer, had he been allowed to question the witness, could have explored these avenues.

Now let’s also try and understand the decision-making by which the police dealt with the reaction of Adebolajo and Adebowale that they created. It appears that Michael Adebolajo became the object of focus for both E48 and D49 – he was the danger they felt they must confront first. Both also ascertained early on that Adebolajo was a threat because he was wielding knives. However, for some reason D49 thought that it was ok to get out of the car with a Taser all the while the opportunity to fire it was swiftly diminishing as Adebloajo ran her down. As fearful as she was for the preservation of her life, she seemed to be under the impression that Adebolajo could kill her with a blade through the closed window of a BMW. Because of this she made a decision to deploy a Taser and open the car door. Is this feasible?

We already explored how the scenario needed the police to cause a reaction from the two Michaels. Let’s say that the scenario also called for, in a specially written in the script if you like, for D49 to make an implausible choice so that she would appear defenceless. Let us say that there was a plan to have D49 appear vulnerable. In this case, she wasn’t, in the script, supposed to be able to fend  Adebolajo off otherwise that would have spoiled the idea of her defencelessness. She had to expose herself to the danger, and that would require the immediate backup so that the scene wouldn’t see Adebolajo actually having to assault her. If D49 had remained in the vehicle, with E48 and E42 disembarking from the other side therefore putting the car in between themselves and Adebolajo, then we would have had to see Adebolajo trying to deal with a barricade. What was he going to do? Because Adebolajo was shot in the manner we are suppose to believe he was, then it saved us having to see some bad acting as Adebolajo tried to convince the world that he thought he could hack his way inside a police car with a knife. As Adebolajo had no intention of attacking the police, this would not have been very convincing. And we know for sure that he didn’t have any such intention because of so much evidence that emerged from the proceeding moments in the footage that clearly shows the engagement to have been a piece of theatre.

It is a bit hard to believe that there really was a deliberate decision on the day to make a supposedly empowered woman look like a bumbling idiot who then put herself at the mercy of a backward misogynistic jihadist. This is why the author has a suspicion that something else was supposed to happen – this is investigated in Chapter Forty Eight.  All we can say at this stage is that whatever was intended during the incident, the prosecution certainly utilised the outcome to present D49 as prey; Equality was sacrificed momentarily all for the desire to have Adebolajo fit the stereotype of a anti-woman, anti-liberal Muslim – and therefore, in the Progressive political consensus, even more deserving of punishment.

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[1] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-attack-video-watch-shocking-1907772

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/03/lee-rigby-attacker-machete-court

[3] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/lee-rigby-murder-trial-cctv-shows-moment-police-shoot-armed-men-in-woolwich-street-after-the-killing-of-soldier-8980026.html

[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2878015

[5] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woolwich-trial-live-lee-rigby-2878015

[6] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/lee-rigby-murder-trial-video-2879808

[7] http://news.sky.com/story/1177086/woolwich-police-officer-feared-being-killed

[8] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/lee-rigby-murder-trial-cctv-shows-moment-police-shoot-armed-men-in-woolwich-street-after-the-killing-of-soldier-8980026.html