The jury in the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan was still deliberating its conclusion as Socialist Worker went to press.
The coroner, Judge Keith Cutler, told jurors they could reach one of three conclusions. These are that Mark was killed unlawfully or lawfully, or they could reach an open conclusion.
Mark died after a police officer shot him in Ferry Lane, Tottenham, north London, on 4 August 2011.
His death sparked days of riots in London and other cities in England as news came through that another black man had died after coming into contact with police.
Police officers gave starkly contradictory evidence during the inquest. They claimed that Mark was shot after a gun was seen in his hand, yet only two officers out of the 13 at the scene say they saw it.
A gun was found on grass a little over seven metres away from where Mark was shot. Police tried to use this as justification for shooting Mark—saying he was carrying the gun and threw it before he was killed.
An officer known as V59 has stated four times, including at the inquest, that he told officers to go and secure a gun when they arrived at the scene.
The officers who went to stand by the gun on the grass also said that V59 had given this instruction.
Yet video footage shot on a phone by a witness showed that the moment police said that the gun had been found occurred 34 seconds after V59 was seen talking to the officers.
How could he have known the gun was on the grass unless the police had a hand in putting it there?
Even an unlawful killing conclusion during an inquest has its limits.
In 2000 a jury found that Christopher Alder had been unlawfully killed in police custody in Hull. Christopher died on the floor of the police station in 1998 while officers made monkey noises at him.
At a subsequent manslaughter trial four years later, the judge ordered the jury to find the officers not guilty on all charges.
Four of the five cops involved have since received compensation payments of between £44,000 and £66,000 each.
Juries also returned unlawful killing verdicts in the inquests of Roger Sylvester, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga, Shiji Lapite and Harry Stanley.
This is to name just a few of the 1,476 people who have died in custody or after contact with police in England and Wales since 1990.
It has taken two years to get an inquest into Mark Duggan’s death. And the inquest has raised many questions about police conduct in the run-up to, during and after his death.
Whatever conclusion the jury reaches, the fight for real justice for Mark will continue.
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