This afternoon, the Mark Duggan Inquest has concluded that officers who shot Duggan dead on Tottenham in August 2011, acted lawfully. The Jury voted 8-2 that although Duggan was unarmed, and did not present an immediate or real threat to the police – the police were right to kill him at the time. After the deaths of Jean Charles De Menezes, Ian Tomlinson and Sean Rigg – are british police able to kill with impunity?
The Independent reports:
The inquest into Mr Duggan’s death began in September and, before the jurors retired last month, Judge Keith Cutler told them to reach their decisions “calmly and coolly on the evidence” as he began summing up the case.
He has since directed the panel of 10 that they may reach conclusions and findings on which at least eight of them are agreed.
Judge Cutler told the jury it may reach one of three possible conclusions: that the 29-year-old was killed unlawfully, or killed lawfully, or an open conclusion.
The jury came back with a majority of 8-2 that the killing of Mark Duggan was lawful, as his family and friends shouted ‘No!’ from the public gallery.
The Death of Mark Duggan
On 4th August 2011, Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in a taxi in Tottenham. Police intercepted Duggan while on a journey by minicab; Duggan was shot twice and killed by a shot to the chest.
The Metropolitan Police issued statements reporting that Duggan had shot at police, a police officer surviving only because the bullet wedged in his radio, and Duggan’s illegal firearm was found at the scene.
However, on closer investigation, a ballistics report demonstrated the ‘jacketed round’ embedded in the radio was police issue, fired by a police issue gun and most likely rebounded after being fired by the officers at the scene.
Furthermore, the gun which Duggan has purchased earlier that day ,had not been fired, and was wrapped in a sock inside a cardboard box metres away from the minicab.
Video footage and live witnesses of the incident also indicate that Mark Duggan was surrendering to police at the time of the shooting.
This is not to say that Duggan should not have been arrested, interviewed and charged if necessary. His own mother told the inquest he “may not have been an angel”. But he certainly did not need to be shot dead.
The Duggan family and supporters have campaigned for justice ever since, and it is important to remember that the London Riots were sparked Tottenham protests over Duggan’s death – the biggest civil unrest in the UK for nearly a century.
Our first thoughts must of course be with the family of Mark Duggan, who have lost a loved one. His family gave an emotional speech outside London’s Royal Courts of Justice, and one of his supporters was heard to shout “a black life aint worth nothing‘. As so many cases before Mark Duggan, somehow, despite finding that he did not deserve to be shot – no one will be held culpable for his killing. No one underestimates the stress that police are under, and the incredible pressure of that split second decision making. But in the case of Duggan and so many others, officers shoot to kill first and think later. If the police force and the justice system are failing to hold these officers to account – what hope is there that this behaviour will change?