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Duggan decision is bad for everyone: new system needed to deal with police violence

This is a sad, bad day for British justice. It seems impossible to combine the view of 8 out of the 10 members of the jury in the Duggan inquest, on the one hand, that he did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot with the decision reached by 8 out of the 10, on the other hand, that it was a ‘lawful killing’ by the police. Moreover there remain far too many unanswered but deeply troubling questions, as Mark Duggan’s mother has herself made clear:

  • Why was the taxi with all its potential forensic data driven away by the police before it was brought back?
  • How can there be such assurance that Duggan threw the gun over the fence when no police officer and no other witness saw him do this and the taxi driver insisted he had not done so?
  • Why is the evidence of V53 (the police officer who killed him) believed when an onlooker in the flats 100 yards away testified that Duggan was holding a mobile phone, not a gun (he had been using his Nokia 5 seconds before he was stopped and 10 seconds before he was killed), and that the object in his hands was shiny and thus unlikely to be a sock-covered gun?
  • Why were armed officers 3 days after the shooting allowed to sit together in a room at Leman police station in east London for 8 hours and write their statements after conferring and then allowed to refuse to answer questions in interview by an IPCC investigation?

And so on.

This has been bad all round – a hugely painful and bewildering rebuff for the family, an intensification of the distrust and hostility towards the police, a loss of credibility for the criminal justice system, and by no means an end to the whole affair. It seems very likely that the family will appeal or even take out a civil action against the police in order to reopen the whole matter in a desperate final resort to get the verdict changed or modified. But even that is overshadowed by the need, not only thoroughly to re-examine the use of police guns in such incidents, but also to replace the coroner’s court system which, however carefully it is handled, is simply not suited to sit in judgement on episodes of this kind.

There have been too many recent shootings of this kind – notably the man shot dead while carrying the leg of a table believed by the police to be a gun, and the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes after 7/7, and notoriously the police are never found responsible for unjustified killing. Where such a police killing has occurred in contested circumstances, an entirely new procedure is required involving legal counsel on both sides for the full and proper presentation and cross-examination of evidence. The nineteenth century coroner’s court is entirely inappropriate for getting at the truth in such extreme circumstances and should be wholly replaced.

5 Comments

  1. John reid says:

    What are you talking about, the judge after JCMs death, said as there were so many people working on that tragic day, who gave information to armed police that he was a terrorist,so it couldn’t be pinned on one person,and that it had to be either lawful killing or open verdict, regarding Garry Stanley, he told everyone the table leg in the bag he had was a gun, and started to turn around when police approached him from behind and told him to stay still, the second jury found he was lawfully killed, regarding the taxi, where duggan was killed the police had to move it for an hour to clear congestion, Mr Meacher as An M.P I find it disgraceful, that you create laws, yet you don’t accept a jury, who were in possession of the facts,should be allowed yo decide what they think the outline was, yet you weren’t there, any you know better,

  2. Robert says:

    I think we all know the police has serious issues between lying through their teeth and then killing innocent people and lying through their teeth and then we all know the racism . I think without doubt the police are in a mess and the cover ups and the lying. Two years ago I saw a police office take a flying kick at drunk youth and when I told him I would report him he said to me what you feel sorry for this filth and I said for god sake he’s a human being, his partner pulled him away and called an ambulance, when the ambulance came the drunk was holding his side and the office said it must be where he fell and I said or where he was kicked.

    We have serious issues I saw that when we went on strike with the miners.

    But the police are no different under a labour government nobody is able to get rid of the ass holes.

  3. swatantra says:

    Many will not agree with Meachers analysis. Duggan was a petty villian who caused a lot of people grief; he was into guns and gangs, and bears some responsibility for his own death.
    A police officer faced with a gun pointing straight at him or her, has little choice but to shoot first; the Jury arrived at the correct verdict. We have some evidence that a gun was supplied to Duggan some days earlier.

  4. John reid says:

    Swatantra, o.k but technically the police officer wasn’t faced with a gun facing at him or her, as Duggan had just thrown it away and had a phone in his hand,

  5. swatantra says:

    Maybe Duggan was just about to call his lawyer?
    A genuine mistake might have been made, since the police may well have believed that Duggan was about to pull out the gun and shoot. But the Police weren’t going to wait half a sec to find out, and quite right too.
    In the past people have been shot for highly suspicious behaviour which might have been reaching for or carrying a gun; a man was shot for carrying a table leg, but could well have turned out to be a rifle.

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