4 Jun 2014

Mark Duggan shooting: lessons to learn

A failure to video record the crime scene, allowing firearms officers 48 hours to compose themselves before being questioned, and denying the IPCC access to police intelligence are among the concerns raised by the coroner in charge of the Mark Duggan inquest.

Mr Duggan was shot dead in a police surveillance operation in Tottenham which prompted the riots in August 2011.

The Duggan family has launched a legal challenge against the  inquest jury’s verdict of lawful killing.

Today assistant coroner Judge Keith Cutler published a series of recommendations directed at the Metropolitan Police, the IPCC, Association of Chief Police Officers and the home secretary.

On the issue of conferring among police witnesses and their delay in giving statements, Judge Cutler doubts there’s any justification.

“A civilian who uses lethal force in defence of himself or another would not be given 48 hours to compose himself prior to being questioned by police, and it is not immediately obvious why a trained firearms officer should require what a civilian is not given.”

He is also highly critical of  the management of the crime scene and the confusion  between police and the IPCC as to who was responsible for what.

“I was left with an impression of some uncertainty about precisely what was being investigated, on whose behalf, for what purpose, and by what means.”

Judge Cutler questions why officers at the scene were able to video record attempts to resuscitate Mark Duggan after the shooting but failed to film anything else especially where the gun, allegedly belonging to Mr Duggan,  was found some distance away on the grass verge.

His report states: “All of the evidence gathered by the IPCC and the MPS concentrated on, but did not resolve, the vexed and very important issue of what precisely happened immediately before the fatal shot was fired.”

Mr Cutler concludes: “I am concerned that fatal police shootings are not as rigorously examined as they could be and that doubts about the accuracy of police accounts are not minimised.”

Stafford Scott, a friend of the Duggan family, said: “I think it’s damning. The judge being a judge has been very PC in the way he has put it over and we have to remember it’s about his recommendations and they are based on his concerns. And for him to have sat in an inquest for three months and to come out with this level of concerns is pretty damning of all the parties involved.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “There is still an on-going IPCC investigation and we await their findings and do not wish to be drawn into debating publicly the coroner’s concerns at this time.”

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