Myth: Mark was a known criminal.
Fact: Mark had never served a jail sentence and only had two minor convictions – one for possessing a small amount of marijuana and one for accepting stolen goods.
Myth: Police had evidence Mark was a gang leader.
Fact: There was no evidence presented at court that showed Mark was a gang member and police admitted the information they had received to suggest this was the equivalent to a conversation overheard in a pub. Claudia Webbe, a founder of Operation Trident, said that in all her years involved in the unit “at no time was the name Mark Duggan put on the table as someone who was a senior member of London’s gun criminality, behind a string of gun related murders, regularly evading justice. His name was never mentioned, not once.”
Myth: Mark was aiming a gun at police when he was shot.
Fact: The only person that claims he saw Mark holding a gun was the officer (V53) who killed him. Expert witness Professor Derrick Pounder testified that in his opinion officer V53 had probably been wrong to claim Mark had been pointing a gun at him in a threatening manner when he fired the second fatal shot – ballistic evidence indicated he was falling or stooped at the time. An independent witness testified that Mark had his hands up and was holding a BlackBerry phone when he was shot. He described the shooting as an execution.
Myth: Mark threw the gun away before or after he was shot.
Fact: Expert witness Professor Jonathan Clasper said it was unlikely that Mark could have disposed of the weapon in the instant that the bullets struck his body. No attending officers claim to have seen Mark throw the gun in the moments after he was shot. Mark’s DNA was not found on the gun or sock in which it was found 20 feet from his body. As Mark was unarmed he could have been easily arrested, taken into custody and charged or released.
Myth: Armed police only fire when completely necessary to remove an immediate risk and must account for every shot they fire.
Fact: Unfortunately we have many cases that prove this is not true, including Anthony Granger, Jean Charles De Menzes and Azelle Rodney. If Mark was a risk to the police, the second fatal shot is still not justified: evidence showed he was falling when it was fired. Why was this second fatal shot fired? But witnesses have testified Mark was unarmed and surrendering which would suggest there was no immediate risk at all. The gun found 20 feet from Mark’s body not only had none of Mark’s DNA on it but was not even clocked in readiness to fire. Yet V53 claims he feared for his life as Mark was pointing this gun at him ready to shoot.
Myth: The police do their utmost to protect the public.
Fact: After a police officer fatally shot unarmed Azelle Rodney six times in 2005 (an inquest in 2013 found it to be an unlawful killing), the Metropolitan police were advised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission to review the use of their ‘hard stop’ procedures as they were a risk to public, suspects and officers. Six years later and an unarmed Mark Duggan was killed in another ‘hard stop’.
Myth: The police are accountable and are not above the law.
Fact: Inquest has recorded over 4,500 deaths in prison and in police custody in England and Wales between 1990 and 2013: “Many of these deaths have raised serious issues of negligence, systemic failures to care for the vulnerable, institutional violence, racism, inhumane treatment and abuse of human rights. There is a pattern of institutionalised reluctance to approach deaths in custody as potential homicides even where there have been systemic failings and gross negligence has occurred. There has not been a successful homicide prosecution for a death in custody for over 30 years.”