After a three-month inquiry, a jury in London found police acted lawfully when they shot and killed 29-year-old Mark Duggan on August 4, 2011. The incident was the catalyst for the 2011 London riots that swept across the city and prompted many to blame the city’s stop-and-search tactics for the outburst.
A police marksman shot Duggan twice as he exited a taxicab in the Tottenham section of north London. Police suspected the father of four was armed, but later admitted he did not have a gun when he was fatally shot. Despite this, the jury concluded Duggan was armed, but ditched the gun before being killed by police. A gun was found 10-20 ft. away from the scene, but did not have Duggan’s fingerprints on it, and gun residue was not found on his hands. A witness claimed Duggan was holding a cellphone when police shot him.
Duggan died “within 10 heartbeats” of a bullet striking his aorta. The jury was told police believed Duggan was a member of TMD, Tottenham Man Dem, which officers believed had links to guns used in nightclubs.
The officer who shot Duggan twice, known as V53, testified he had seen a gun in Duggan’s right hand, and believed the suspect was preparing to use it. V53 said he had acted in self-defence, fearing that his own life or the lives of his colleagues were in danger from Duggan.
The key issue for the jury was whether Duggan was holding a gun, as the marksman said, when he exited the cab and came face to face with armed police.
V53 and a second officer, W70, told the jury they had both seen Duggan holding a gun but were surprised when they could not find it later.
In fact, a gun, wrapped in a sock, was found on the other side of a fence three to six metres (10-20ft) away from where the fatally injured Duggan fell to the pavement, the jury heard. The gun was capable of being fired but had not been “racked”, so was not ready to fire.
Neither the gun nor the sock had any DNA or fingerprints from Duggan on it. Gun residue was also absent from the deceased, save for a speck in his back pocket which the jury was told was scientifically irrelevant. His fingerprints were on a shoebox found inside the cab in which it is believed the gun had been stored, and traces of the drug ecstasy were in his bloodstream.
The jury was asked whether Duggan could have been holding a mobile phone when he left the cab. Seconds before the cab was made to stop, Duggan had held a three-minute conversation with his brother Marlon. One witness claimed he had seen the shooting from 150 metres away and claimed Duggan was shot while surrendering with a mobile phone in his hand.
In the days before the shooting, the Met had received intelligence from the Serious Organised Crime Agency about TMD. It ran a four-day operation codenamed Dibri targeting six members of the gang, one of whom was Duggan.
Duggan’s family called the ruling “perverse” and reacted emotionally to the verdict. His brother yelled, “F—k them,” while others called police “murders.” According to the Guardian, Duggan’s mother collapsed in the courtroom, while his aunt said Duggan had been “executed” by metropolitan police.