The family of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by a Scotland Yard police marksman in August 2011, have lost their High Court bid to overturn the finding that 29-year-old Duggan was “lawfully killed.”
Duggan was unarmed when he was shot at twice by the police marksman in Tottenham, North London and his death sparked riots which spread nationwide. The lawful killing verdict produced anger among members of the public and the jury were forced to flee from the court for fear of their safety.
A police officer is only allowed to legally open fire if they honestly believe that there is an imminent risk to their life or others’ lives. Duggan was unarmed when shot, as he got out of a taxi that police had forced to stop. Officers claim that Duggan had brandished a gun when shot yet this gun found 10ft to 20ft away from Duggan’s body and no police officer was able to explain how it had got there. The jury in the trial decided the gun had been tossed away by Duggan as he got out of the taxi. “How is it a man who is manifestly unarmed can be lawfully shot?” asked Michael Mansfield QC during the trial, on behalf of the Duggan family. Pamela Duggan, the dead man’s mother said she was “extremely disappointed” at the decision.
Duggan’s relatives had called for the judicial review because they believed that coroner Judge Keith Cutler had misdirected the jury in the original case, allegedly blundering when summing up and making errors when explain self-defence laws to the jury prior to them reaching their final verdict.
Following the judgment, spokesperson Stafford Scott said, “We will be seeking a public inquiry because we believe police corruption lies at the heart of this case.” Carole Duggan, the dead man’s aunt, insisted that the family would seek justice in “any crack, any crevice,” insisting that Mark “didn't get a fair hearing." She told of the family’s disbelief and utter disappointment at the original ruling. "Everyone was expecting an unlawful killing verdict, but I thought that's too ambitious, I know the system is stacked against us, it may be an open verdict. Everybody was devastated. It was as if the jury was listening to a different case,” said Ms Duggan.
Yesterday the high court, consisting of Lord Justice Leveson, Sir Peter Thornton, the chief coroner, and another high court justice, rejected the Duggan family’s bid to overturn the ruling that Mr Duggan was lawfully killed. The court did however clearly state that their ruling did prevent the family from suing the police. “In civil proceedings the burden of proof and the ingredients are different and may [we do not say must or will] provide a different answer to the very difficult questions posed by this case,” the family were told by the judgment.
Ms Duggan has already launched a separate legal action which challenges whether police officers should be allowed to speak among themselves prior to court cases where a police fatality is being investigated. An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the shooting continues amid new evidence that arose during the inquest.
For the Duggan family the daily battle continues. Mark’s aunt has previously described the continuous struggle among the dead man’s family to cope with what has happened. Speaking about Mark’s father, Bruno, following his son’s death she said, "He couldn't say Mark's name, he couldn't deal with the meetings, he couldn't talk about Mark – he just used to sit there staring at a picture of him, saying, 'They killed my son.'"