Bullet fragments key to death probe
Fragments of a bullet modified to maximise its destructive power were last night being analysed to cast crucial light on what happened at around 6.15pm on Thursday when police marksmen shot Mark Duggan dead.
As clashes broke out for the third night running in the worst rioting seen in the UK capital for decades, scientists were analysing the remains of ammunition found in the radio of an armed officer involved in the arrest operation in Tottenham Hale.
They hope to answer the key question of whether the 29-year-old opened fire on his pursuers moments before he died.
Investigators yesterday refused to confirm reports that initial results suggested the bullet fragments were from police-issue ammunition, meaning they could not have been from a weapon fired by Mr Duggan and casting doubt on claims that he was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
According to reports last night, the suspected gang member was carrying a starter pistol modified to fire live bullets.
It is understood that the shrapnel being analysed was from a hollow-point or dumdum bullet found in the handset of a sharpshooter from Scotland Yard's elite CO19 firearms unit, whose officers use this type of ammunition.
Similar ammunition, favoured for its devastating effects, also circulates among criminal gangs.
Initial reports after the shooting five days ago suggested that the officer had been saved by the bullet striking his radio and it had been fired from the handgun later recovered from the taxi carrying Mr Duggan, who was then fatally wounded by another marksman.
But it was suggested yesterday that Mr Duggan was instead killed by one of two rounds fired by an officer who feared the target was about to open fire. Investigators are trying to establish whether it was the second of these two bullets that struck the police team member's radio.
Evidence that the father of four did not brandish a firearm and that a CO19 officer came close to killing one of his colleagues will only worsen the tensions that have brought violence and looting to the streets.
As police last night admitted there had been a failure to answer the concerns of Mr Duggan's family about the manner of his death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it expected to release definitive test results today to establish whether the bullet fragments came from a police MP5 sub-machinegun or another weapon.
Rachel Cerfontyne, the IPCC commissioner who is leading the investigation into the shooting, said: "We would anticipate being in a position to share verified results within the next 24 hours." (©Independent News Service)