Death of Mark Duggan
|Date||4 August 2011|
|Location||Tottenham Hale, London, England|
|Participants||Metropolitan Police Service, Mark Duggan|
|Injuries||1 (police officer)|
|Inquiries||Independent Police Complaints Commission|
Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old Tottenham resident, was shot and killed by police in Tottenham, North London, England, on 4 August 2011. The Metropolitan Police stated that officers were attempting to arrest Duggan on suspicion of planning an attack, and that he was in possession of a handgun. Duggan died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The death of Duggan - a black male - resulted in public protest in Tottenham over the circumstances of his killing, fueled in part by poverty and racial tension. The protests led to conflict with police, escalating into a riot in Tottenham. These events are widely seen as proximate causes for the 2011 England riots.
Duggan was under investigation by Operation Trident, a subdivision of the Metropolitan Police. Police alleged that Duggan received a Bruni Olympic handgun, fifteen minutes before he was shot, from Kevin Hutchinson-Foster. A trial of Hutchinson-Foster in September–October 2012 yielded new evidence and reports on the case, but the jury failed to reach a verdict. At his re-trial, on 31 January 2013, Huchinson-Foster was convicted of supplying Duggan with the gun. A public inquest on the Duggan killing has not yet taken place, although the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is conducting an ongoing investigation.
The official story of Duggan's death has undergone numerous changes, drawing criticism and suspicion from Duggan's family, residents of Tottenham, and other supporters. These critics accuse police of misconduct and of failing to cooperate with investigating Duggan's death. Shortcomings in the police response have also been blamed for stoking the riots, and for fueling ongoing discontent.
Tension with police
There was tension between black people and the police before and since the Broadwater Farm riot in 1985, in which, according to David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, the "cracks that already existed between the police and the community became deep fissures". Since 1985 "there had been some progress made in the relationship between the local community and the police", but the shooting "raised tension". Lammy claimed that Duggan's death occurred as part of "a history in Tottenham that involves deaths in police custody". Claudia Webbe, the chairperson of Operation Trident, asserted that many black people see Duggan's shooting as "yet another unjust death in custody" and that young black people in Tottenham are "still six, seven, eight times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts".
Black British novelist Alex Wheatle, who served a term of imprisonment for crimes he committed in the 1981 Brixton riot, asserted that there was "a deep aggravation" that despite many black deaths in police custody there had been no conviction of a police officer.
At the time of his death, Duggan and his partner Semone Wilson had three children together, respectively aged 10 years, seven years, and 18 months. Duggan had a fourth child with another woman. Duggan had worked at Stansted Airport, and recently applied to work as a firefighter, according to his cousin.
Duggan's cousin, Kelvin Easton, was killed in a nightclub in March 2011. Duggan was grieving for Easton, and some have suggested that Easton's death may have motivated Duggan to arm himself. Family and friends denied allegations by police and some media outlets that Duggan was involved in drug trafficking.
Officers of the Metropolitan Police Service stopped a minicab which was carrying Duggan as a passenger at about 18:15 BST on 4 August 2011. There was no CCTV coverage of the place where they stopped the cab, and some witnesses allege that police chased away onlookers.
According to an unnamed firearms officer at the trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster in September 2012, Duggan pivoted out of the cab and pulled a selfloading pistol or handgun from his waistband. According to the taxi driver, Mark Duggan left the car and ran:
"The car that had stopped – men got out of it very quickly who were carrying guns in their hands. Then I heard the sound of my rear door opening. I saw that Mark Duggan got out and ran. At the same time, I heard firing from the front. I saw shots strike Mark Duggan. He fell to the ground.
"At the same time a man came and he opened my door. Very angrily he pulled me out by my arm and then he dropped me or knelt me down on the ground by the rear tyres of the car."
The police then fired twice, hitting Duggan in the thigh and chest, killing him. A firearm was not found on Duggan after he had been shot. Paramedics from the London Ambulance Service and medical staff from the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service attended, but Duggan was pronounced dead at the scene at 18:41 BST.
The police who shot Duggan were part of the Specialist Firearms Command (CO19), accompanying officers from Operation Trident, a London Metropolitan police unit responsible for gun crime within the black community.
According to an eyewitness cited by The Independent, Duggan "was shot while he was pinned to the floor by police." According to another eyewitness cited in The Telegraph, a police officer had "shouted to the man to stop 'a couple of times', but he had not heeded the warning". According to a witness cited by the BBC, a police officer twice shouted: "Put it down" before Duggan was shot. A Metropolitan Police Federation representative asserted that the officer who killed Duggan had "an honest-held belief that he was in imminent danger of him and his colleagues being shot".
A police officer was also shot, apparently by someone other than Duggan. They were taken to a hospital and released the same evening.
Subsequent police actions
Police proceeded to move the taxi in which Duggan had been traveling. After some dispute over when the vehicle was moved, it was stated that police moved the taxi for examination and then returned it to the scene. The IPCC initially claimed ignorance of these events, but later admitted that it had sanctioned removal of the vehicle and then requested that it be restored to the scene.
An initial "short-form" report of the incident—filed by an officer identified as "W70"—did not say that Duggan had raised a gun. W70 filed another report 48 hours later which described Duggan drawing a gun from his waistband. (Officer W70 later testified that short-form reports are "deliberately brief".)
Police waited a day and a half to inform the Duggan family of the death. Several days later they apologised for this delay.
Initially, a spokesman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was stated that they "understand the officer was shot first before [Duggan] was shot;" police later called this statement a mistake. A bullet was found embedded in a radio worn by a policeman, and ballistics tests on the projectile indicate it was a "jacketed round", or police issue bullet fired from a Heckler & Koch MP5 semi-automatic carbine used by the police. Its presence may have been due to a ricochet or overpenetration.
The IPCC stated that a loaded Bruni BBM blank-firing pistol converted to fire live rounds was recovered from the scene. The IPCC had commissioned tests on the pistol by the Forensic Science Service and had received advice that it was an illegal firearm. The gun was wrapped in a sock, a practice allegedly used to avoid leaving evidence if it was used. The IPCC announced on 9 August that there was no evidence that the gun had been fired, that this had not been ruled out and further tests were being conducted.
On 18 November 2011, the IPCC announced that the 9mm gun associated with the scene of the killing had been found 10–14 feet away, on the other side of a fence. Witnesses told the IPCC that they saw police throw the gun over the fence. The IPCC initially reported that three officers had also witnessed an officer throw the gun, but later retracted this report.
It was also announced on 18 November that the IPCC would investigate whether the same gun had been used in an earlier incident, on 29 July 2011, when a man was assaulted in Hackney. On 15 June 2012, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster was formally charged with passing the gun to Duggan. Duggan's fingerprints were found on a cardboard box which appeared to have contained the gun when he collected it. The sock and gun were taken out of the box before Duggan was shot. His DNA and fingerprints were not recovered from the sock which wrapped the gun, nor from the weapon itself.
News of Duggan's death was publicised quickly. Soon after Duggan was shot, an image was posted on Facebook showing police standing over a body that may have been his. Outrage about the police killing quickly escalated.
Protest and unrest
At about 17:30 BST on 6 August 2011, Duggan's relatives and local residents marched from Broadwater Farm to Tottenham Police Station. The demonstrators chanted "we want answers" and requested information from police about the circumstances of Duggan's death. They also made broader demands for "Justice", seeking to publicise ongoing poor relations with police in their community.
A chief inspector spoke with the demonstrators, who demanded to see a higher-ranking officer. About 20:00 BST, a 16-year-old girl approached them and may have thrown a leaftlet or a stone. Police swarmed the girl with shields and batons, allegedly causing head injuries. At about 20:20 BST, members of the waiting crowd attacked two nearby police cars, setting them on fire. According to Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock, the violence was started by "certain elements, who were not involved with the vigil". Other observers claim that the rally began peacefully but was incited by the police attack.
Rioting, arson and looting spread to other parts of London, and to elsewhere in England. Rioters expressed mixed motivations for rioting, including policing issues, poverty, and racial tension with police.
Duggan's family condemned the disorder. His older brother said, "We're not condoning any kind of actions like that at all." While Duggan's shooting was perhaps the trigger for the violence, several other causes of the rioting have been suggested. British Prime Minister David Cameron rejected a causal relationship between the death of Mark Duggan and the subsequent looting.
Duggan's death quickly became a major media story. Mainstream outlets were criticized for portraying Duggan as a gangster with a criminal record even though he had none. They were also faulted for uncritically reporting the police's story that Duggan had shot first—also shown false.
The riots brought international attention to Duggan's death, which one Iranian official described as a "human rights violation".
Duggan's funeral procession in Tottenham on 9 September 2011 was watched by thousands of onlookers. Police maintained a low profile.
The incident was immediately referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), in accordance with standard practice when anyone dies or is seriously injured following police contact. Investigators distributed leaflets appealing for witnesses to come forward. IPCC officers are also searching CCTV footage, 999 calls and radio transmissions.
On 12 August 2011 the IPCC announced that in the immediate aftermath of the incident they may have given misleading information to journalists to the effect that shots were exchanged between Duggan and the police. Although a bullet had been found lodged in a police radio, there was no evidence that it had come from the gun in Duggan's possession.
In response to rumours that the killing of Mark Duggan was an "execution", the IPCC announced: "Speculation that Mark Duggan was 'assassinated' in an execution style involving a number of shots to the head are categorically untrue."
Duggan's family stated that they did not trust the IPCC to conduct a fair and independent investigation of the killing and asked for an independent inquiry into the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the IPCC. They sought to commission an independent second postmortem. Coroner Andrew Walker scheduled an initial hearing for 12 December 2011.
In November 2011, two members of the public who were appointed to liaise with the IPCC, resigned from those posts. A third remained in post. One of those who left said that the IPCC work was "shoddy."
On 29 February 2012 the IPCC upheld a complaint that the Metropolitan Police had not adequately informed Duggan's family of his death on 4 August 2011. The IPCC's enquiry expressly did not address the events of 6 August 2011 and subsequently. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh of the Metropolitan Police had already issued an apology (in August 2011_) to the Duggan family for the manner in which police initially communicated with them, suggesting that the IPCC had a responsibility to provide information to Duggan's family.
In late March 2012 the IPCC indicated that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 made it impossible for the organisation to reveal information obtained during its investigation into Duggan's death, making it doubtful if a public coroner's inquest into the killing could ever be held.
In April 2012, the BBC aired footage of the immediate aftermath of the shooting. The footage showed paramedics handling Duggan's body. The IPCC condemned the BBC for showing the footage without first consulting them.
Police stated that "no officer had done wrong" but announced that the person who shot Mark Duggan would not remain on active firearms duty.
The firearms officers involved in the operation known only as V53 provided written statements to the IPCC but refused to be interviewed. David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, was critical of their refusal. The IPCC asked for the power to interview police officers even if they are not suspected of having committed a crime.
Trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster
In November 2011, the IPCC began an investigation into the "quality of the investigative response" by police to an incident on 29 July 2011, for which police charged Kevin Hutchinson-Foster with possession of a handgun, believing the gun may be the same found at the shooting of Mr. Duggan.
On 18 September 2012, Hutchinson-Foster's trial commenced in the Crown Court at Snaresbrook. The defendant was charged with supplying Duggan with the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun, found near Duggan's car after his death. The defendant denied the charge and gave his explanation for the presence of his DNA on the gun by claiming he had been beaten with the weapon by a gang that included Duggan.
During the trial, the prosecution contended that Duggan travelled to Leyton to collect the gun from Hutchinson-Foster, before driving to Tottenham with it. The police claimed that Duggan had received a gun from Hutchinson-Foster 12–15 minutes before he was shot.
The trial included testimony from seven police officers who were allowed to remain anonymous and use pseudonyms. The Police alleged that Duggan had pulled the gun from his waistband and pointed it at police before they shot him.
According to the evidence given by the cab driver and corroborated by one policeman present at the scene, Duggan got out of the taxi and ran in an attempt to escape. The driver stated, "I saw that Mark Duggan got out and ran. At the same time, I heard firing from the front. I saw shots strike Mark Duggan. He fell to the ground."
On 17 October 2012, the jury failed to reach a verdict. The re-trial date was set for January 2013, and on 31 January 2013 the defendant was convicted of supplying Duggan with the handgun. On 26 February 2013, the defendant was sentenced to eleven years in prison; seven years for supplying the gun, four years for related offences.
Allegations of drug trafficking
After his death Duggan was described as a drug dealer by the police and others, a claim denied by his family and friends. According to Tony Thompson of the London Evening Standard Duggan may have been a founding member of North London's "Star Gang", an offshoot of the Tottenham Mandem gang. Unnamed police sources claimed via The Telegraph that Duggan was a "well known gangster" and a "major player and well known to the police in Tottenham". Duggan was a nephew of deceased Manchester gangland boss Desmond Noonan.
Officers attached to Operation Trident had Duggan under surveillance; police stated that they suspected Duggan was planning to commit a crime connected with the death of his cousin Kelvin Easton, who was stabbed to death outside an East London bar in March 2011. Duggan was increasingly paranoid as a consequence of his cousin's violent death. The Telegraph claimed that Duggan was bound to avenge the death by the "street code" of the gang.
Duggan's family claimed the allegations against Duggan were "disinformation", stating that he was "not a gang member and he had no criminal record".
Criticism of official response
Many residents of Tottenham do not trust police or investigators, and say that Duggan was executed by police. Critics of the police action have called the IPCC investigation inadequate and feel outraged about unexplained changes to the official story of Duggan's death. A report due in summer of 2012 was announced delayed in October 2012. Duggan's family and members of his community have suggested that they do not consider the IPCC impartial and do not believe that its investigation is succeeding.
Frustration with the official investigation mounted in May 2012 when it was announced that the 31 police witnesses would not be required to answer questions—instead submitting written testimony. David Lammy, MP from Tottenham, stated: "It is unacceptable that the police officers have not made themselves available for interview, and it is unacceptable that the IPCC does not have the power to compel them to do so."
Duggan's family does not believe that the police have been honest about the shooting, and has pressured the police and IPCC for greater transparency. Duggan's sister, Paulette Hall, has stated: “We want justice. We want them to come clean and tell us what happened. The police are human like us. If you kill someone, you should do the time, just like we would have to do.” Hall has reiterated concerns about media portrayals, and produced her own film titled The Real Story of Mark Duggan. Duggan's mother has said: "We still don’t have justice. I won’t give up until I get justice for Mark. People need to be held to account for my son’s death. There needs to be a full inquest, in front of a jury of ordinary men and women, to find out the truth.”
Stafford Scott, an independent advisor to Operation Trident who deals with race relations, resigned from the investigation because he felt that it was not being conducted fairly. Writing in The Guardian, he stated:
The IPCC has broken its own guidelines by giving out erroneous information to journalists regarding the "shoot-out" involving Duggan and police that didn't actually happen. And its investigation is flawed and in all probability tainted – so much so that we can never have faith in its final report.
Scott blames the police response to the Duggan shooting for the escalation of the 2011 riots. He later criticized authorities for treating the Hutchinson-Foster as a proxy for the Duggan investigation, while continuing to delay the official inquest on Duggan's death. He says that members of Duggan's community feel ignored and lied to by authorities, writing in March 2012: "In August 2011 the word on the streets was that 'they executed Mark'. Seven months later the word is that the police had control of the gun or worse."
Dr Simon Poole
Dr Simon Poole, a pathologist who had performed a post-mortem on Duggan's body, testified in January 2013 at the retrial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster and asserted that the injuries Duggan sustained in the shooting were not consistent with the account of the incident that was given by the police officer who fired the lethal shot.
- Race and crime in the United Kingdom
- Death of Jean Charles de Menezes
- Death of Ian Tomlinson
- Death of Harry Stanley
- Death of James Ashley
- Death of Azelle Rodney
- Blair Peach
- List of people killed by law enforcement officers in the United Kingdom
- Police use of firearms in the United Kingdom
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