Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mark Duggan: UK; Commentator takes a close look at the forensics and concludes that "The police watchdog that cleared Mark Duggan's killer should be scrapped." Vice.

COMMENTARY: " The Police Watchdog That Cleared Mark Duggan's Killer Should Be Scrapped," by Harry Stopes, published by Vice on March 26, 2015.

GIST: "Like Michael Brown in Ferguson, the name of Mark Duggan is a shorthand for police violence that is either murderous and unaccountable, or necessary and laudable. This depends on the extent to which one is prepared to think critically about the state. Duggan, a 29-year-old man from Tottenham in North London, was shot dead by police on August 4, 2011. Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) released a 499-page report into his death that clears the police of wrongdoing........Duggan was shot twice on exiting a taxi on Ferry Lane, by an officer known as V53. A gun was later found 4.76 yards from his body, on a patch of grass over a fence. This gun had apparently been carried in a shoebox—the box bears prints from both the alleged supplier Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, and Duggan—but there are no prints or DNA from Duggan on the gun itself. The muzzle of the gun was covered by a sock, and no fibers from this sock were found on Duggan's body or clothing. In other words, in terms of the forensics, there's no evidence that Duggan ever touched the gun, only the box. It's important to bear this in mind. At Hutchinson-Foster's trial, V53 claimed to have shot Duggan out of an "honest[ly]-held belief that he was about to shoot me or one of my colleagues." He attributed this belief to the fact that he saw the gun (the one which has none of Duggan's DNA on it) in Duggan's hand, pointed in his direction. He described this as "a 'freeze frame' moment," in which he saw the gun with total clarity. This moment, he said poetically, was "like when you pause your Sky Plus or your TV recorder," allowing him to view Duggan's hands with such precision that he "could make out the trigger guard, the barrel... I was 100 percent convinced that he was carrying a handgun." At this point, V53 said, Duggan aimed the gun at him, so he fired twice, killing him within ten seconds. After the shooting, V53 and the other officers on the scene gave statements containing the barest minimum detail, doing little more than confirming that the taxi had been stopped, Duggan got out, and was shot dead. They gave more substantive statements a few days later, after getting together in a room and conferring amongst themselves. All refused to be interviewed by the IPCC, only giving written answers to the questions posed to them. The IPCC report admits at paragraph 1653 that "the lack of an open, face-to face dialogue limits the extent to which the IPCC can effectively probe and verify the detail of [V53's] account," yet claims at paragraph 1715 that they have "never simply accepted... the truthfulness and accuracy of the officers' accounts... [but have] attempted to probe, challenge, and question the officers' evidence throughout the investigation." So the IPCC definitely probed the evidence, except when they couldn't."

The entire commentary can be found at:

See Wikipedia account:  "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 circumstances of Duggan's killing resulted in public protests in Tottenham[1] which, fuelled by poverty and racial tension, led to conflict with police and escalated into riots across London and other English cities.[2] This in turn is widely seen as the proximate cause of the 2011 England riots. Duggan was under investigation by Operation Trident, a subdivision of the Metropolitan Police. Duggan took possession of a BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun (a blank-firing replica of a Beretta 92 converted to fire live rounds), 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, Hutchinson-Foster was convicted of supplying Duggan with the gun. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been investigating the case but has delayed release of its report for more than a year. A public inquest on the Duggan killing began on 16 September 2013, and ended on 8 January 2014 with an 8–2 majority concluding that Duggan's death was a lawful killing.[3] 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, with Duggan's supporters stating "there can be no peace without justice"."


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