The family of Mark Duggan took their fight for justice to the court of appeal yesterday, Thursday.
Mark was shot dead by a police officer, codenamed V53, on 4 August 2011 in Tottenham, north London.
An inquest jury of ten found that Mark’s killing was legal, despite apparent contradictions between evidence given by police officers and witnesses.
John Southey QC told the court that the family’s aim was the “quashing of the verdict that this was a legal killing.
“We do not accept this verdict was a safe one,” he said.
Police carried out a “hard stop” on the car Mark was in on the day he was killed. V53 claimed at the inquest into Mark’s death that he shot Mark because he saw a gun in his hand.
A gun was found on a grassy area 20 feet away from where Mark was shot. Eight out of ten jurors at the inquest agreed that it was not possible for Mark to have thrown the gun to there.
The same number also agreed that Mark could not have had a gun in his hand.
V53 shot Mark through his bicep and claimed that Mark then tossed the gun 20 feet. Mark could only have tossed the gun before being shot through the arm, which would explain its presence on the grass, the inquest found.
That would mean that he was unarmed when V53 shot him. This account was at the heart of Thursday’s hearing.
On the one hand, V53’s “evidence was that he wasn’t shooting blindly, but at a specific threat,” said Southey. He went on to argue that “the jury… rejected the reason given by the officer.
“Eight members of the jury found there was no gun in Mark Duggan’s hand at the time of the shooting”.
The argument revolves around whether or not the verdict can be overturned based on the objective circumstances surrounding Mark’s death.
The jury’s verdict hinges on V53’s evidence being an honest account of events, despite other evidence contradicting his account.
Southey asked, “Did V53 honestly believe, even if that belief is mistaken, that at the time he fired the shot he did so in self-defence?”
Could V53’s actions be deemed to be “subjectively reasonable,” asked Southey, based on “what he subjectively believed to be the situation in front of him?”
If the court agrees with the family’s argument, it will call into question decisions made based on V53’s account.
Clare Montgomery QC, acting on behalf of the state, said, “This is not a philosophy class” as part of her response.
The three appeal court judges retired to deliberate on Thursday. No date for their ruling has been set.