UK police 'legally killed' man

Last updated 12:10 09/01/2014
Mark Duggan family
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DEVASTATED: Mark Duggan's brother Marlon and mother Pam outside the court after the verdict.

London riots
LEAP OF LIFE: Monika Konczyk has been indentified as the woman who leapt from a burning building in Croydon.
Mark Duggan
DEAD: Mark Duggan.

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US police were acting lawfully when they shot dead an unarmed Mark Duggan, the 29-year-old father of six whose killing led to the London riots of August 2011, an inquest jury has found.

There was uproar in the London courtroom after the jury revealed their decision. People screamed "murderers" at police, and loudly abused jurors.

One person leaving the courtroom was overheard saying "a black life ain't worth nothing in this town."

The UK capital faces a nervous night on the streets of Tottenham.

A protest in 2011 over Duggan's shooting sparked a riot that snowballed into violence and looting across north London and other English cities, in the biggest outbreak of violence in recent English history.

A majority of the jury found that Duggan did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot by a police marksman.

Police intelligence had suggested he was a gang member involved in gun and drugs crimes, and that he had just collected a gun in east London and was travelling with it in a minicab. He was stopped by police and shot during a confrontation, on August 4 2011.

The officer who shot Duggan twice told the inquest he saw a gun in Duggan's right hand and thought he was preparing to use it, so he fired to protect himself and his colleagues.

A gun was later found, wrapped in a sock and not ready to be fired, about six metres away on the other side of a fence.

A witness told the inquest that Duggan was holding a phone, not a gun, and appeared to holding up his hands to surrender when he was killed.

The jury concluded, by a majority of nine to one, that Duggan threw the gun away as soon as his minicab came to a stop, before he faced police.

However, they found by a majority of eight to two that his killing was lawful.

The jurors also found, unanimously, that police had not done their best in the 30 hours leading up to the shooting, however, they had acted to minimise recourse to lethal force when intercepting Duggan.

After the jury's conclusions were revealed, the corridors of the Royal Courts of Justice were filled with people shouting and screaming, the BBC reported. Duggan's mother Pamela was led out in tears.

Outside the court the family's solicitor Marcia Willis Stewart said the family were in a state of shock and could not believe the outcome.

Duggan was "murdered with no gun in his hand," she said. Family and supporters said the jury's decision was perverse.

Duggan's aunt, Carole Duggan, said outside the court that "the majority of the people in this country know that Mark was executed ... and we're going to fight until we have no breath in our body for justice."

His brother, Shaun Hall, said "We're leaving with a grave injustice."

Outside the court, Met police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley gave a statement in front of media and a hostile, shouting crowd.

"Our sympathy today is with Mark Duggan's family," he said. "But the task our officers face in making split-second decisions when confronting armed criminals means there is a risk - a very small risk - that this will happen.

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"A jury of Londoners, who have seen and heard all the evidence, have today concluded that not only was the operation to stop Mark Duggan in the taxi conducted in a way which minimised to the greatest extent possible recourse to lethal force, but that Mark Duggan had a gun, and also that our officer had an honest and reasonable belief that Mark Duggan still had the gun when he shot him.

"We know the trust is not shared by everyone. I will be offering to meet Mark Duggan's family to express our sorrow. And we will continue working with local leaders to strengthen relationships. We know it will take time."

MP for Tottenham David Lammy put out a statement calling the jury's decisions "perplexing and seemingly contradictory".

He said an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commissions - which has re-opened - must attempt to clarify how Duggan came to die.

"The Duggan family's sorrow and anger was palpable in court and it is a feeling that will inevitably be reflected in the wider community.

"Policing ... depends on consent, trust and legitimacy. The shooting of Mark Duggan exposed just how fragile these bonds are."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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