Man whose death sparked UK riots was shot in `self-defence`

A police marksman said on Tuesday he was acting in self-defence when he shot a man whose death sparked rioting and looting across London and other English cities two years ago.

Updated: Sep 18, 2013, 10:20 AM IST

London: A police marksman said on Tuesday he was acting in self-defence when he shot a man whose death sparked rioting and looting across London and other English cities two years ago.

The officer, identified only as V53, told an inquest into Mark Duggan`s death that he thought he was brandishing a gun.

The 29-year-old father of four was shot when the taxi in which he was travelling was stopped by armed police in Tottenham, north London in August 2011.

Two days after he died, Tottenham exploded into violence that spread across the capital and then on to Birmingham, Manchester and other cities in England. Five people died in the violence.

The manner of his death remains in dispute and is the subject of the inquest, a judge-led investigation which will not however apportion blame.

Several of Duggan`s relatives attended the second day of the inquest, including his aunt Carole Duggan who wore a black t-shirt bearing the slogan "time for truth and justice".

A lawyer acting for the inquest, Ashley Underwood, told the jury that when his taxi was stopped: "Mr Duggan wasn`t shocked into submission, he got out of the minicab and he ran.

"You will hear from V53 that he was running with a gun in his hand and he started to bring the gun into the aim."

The officer said that he had opened fire "in self-defence", and that the first shot failed to incapacitate Duggan, so he fired a second time.

But the jury also heard that a loaded gun wrapped in a dark sock was found several metres from the site of the shooting, and that Duggan may have been holding a mobile phone in one hand just before he was killed.

No weapon was found on Duggan`s body.

Underwood told the jurors that they will need to address whether the police operation that ended in Duggan`s death was planned and carried out in a way that minimised the need to use lethal force.

The second issue is whether it was absolutely necessary for the officer to fire two shots, one of which would have proved fatal "within 10 heartbeats".

Police had trailed Duggan from a housing estate after receiving information that he had picked up a firearm.

The jury was told that the case has been complicated by an anonymous note sent last year to a number of people including Duggan`s family and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

It claimed that a police informant had told his handler he could persuade Duggan to pick up the gun, allowing officers to arrest him.

AFP