No smoking gun: Jury clears police of unlawful killing in shooting of Mark Duggan which triggered summer of riots across England
Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by armed police officers in a shooting that sparked riots across England, jurors found today.
The inquest into the 29-year-old’s death in August 2011 had heard evidence from the officer, known as V53, who fired the fatal shot and from Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who was jailed last year for supplying Mr Duggan with a gun on the day he was killed.
Judge Keith Cutler said the inquest was a “quest to find the truth” behind Mr Duggan’s death and had last September told jurors: “It may be the case that the heart of your considerations will be whether Mark Duggan was killed lawfully or unlawfully.”
He directed jurors to reach their conclusions on “the evidence and the evidence alone”.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in central London this afternoon the decision, which had been delayed until shortly before 4pm to allow a member of Mr Duggan’s team to reach the court, was handed down. Around 100 members of Mr Duggan’s family were reportedly present in an “overspill” court to hear the jury’s conclusions.
Jurors were asked: “Did the Metropolitan Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency do the best they could to gather and react to intelligence of Mr Duggan collecting a gun from Mr Hutchinson-Foster?” There was a unanimous “no” answer from the jury.
A majority (9-1) said Mark Duggan threw the firearm as soon as the cab had stopped and prior to any officer on the pavement engaging Mr Duggan.
But there were cries of “no” in court as the 8-2 majority conclusion of a lawful killing was announced.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Duggan's aunt Carole Duggan claimed that he had been “executed”, while his brother Shaun Hall said they “came for justice” today and that they “did not feel they had received justice”.
The family's solicitor Marcia Willis Stewart said: “On 4 August 2011 an unarmed man was shot down in Tottenham. Today we have had what we can only call a perverse judgment.
“The jury found that he had no gun in his hand and yet he was gunned down. For us that's an unlawful killing.”
Talking above an increasingly vocal crowd gathered outside the court, she went on: “The family are in a state of shock and we would ask that you respect their shock.
“They can't believe that this has been the outcome. No gun in his hand and yet he was killed - murdered as they have said, no gun in his hand.”
Issuing a statement in the wake of the jury's conclusion, the Home Office said it was right the police are “held to the highest possible standards”. A spokesperson added that it would be inappropriate to comment further while the Independent Police Complaints Commission continued with its own investigation.
Ahead of today's decision, Mr Duggan’s mother, Pam Duggan, 55, described Scotland Yard as “bullies” and claimed officers were “trigger happy”.
The Metropolitan Police shooting triggered the worst riots in English history. Jurors had heard that Mr Duggan was shot twice after he produced a gun after being surrounded by armed officers in Tottenham, north London.
The second shot entered through Mr Duggan’s chest and exited his back, killing the father of four. The inquest had heard that police believed he was a member of the TMD – Tottenham Man Dem – which officers believed had links to guns used in nightclubs.
Officer V53 had testified that he saw a gun in Mr Duggan’s right hand as he exited a taxi and believed he was preparing to use the weapon, arguing he acted in self-defence. He described the “freeze frame” moment he confronted Mr Duggan and said he had an “honestly held” belief Mr Duggan would open fire on officers.
A witness, giving evidence, told jurors that Mr Duggan had been holding a mobile telephone when he was shot, and not a gun.
The Tottenham MP David Lammy tweeted ahead of the verdict that his “thoughts are with his [Mr Duggan’s] family at this time”.
There were three verdicts open to jurors: unlawful killing, lawful killing and an open verdict.
Mark Duggan inquest: Was he really armed? Were the police under threat? All the key evidence