The Killing of Mark Duggan 108


The Guardian has an interesting piece today on Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the initial rioting. I want to try to approach this as objectively as possible.

The Guardian piece focuses, quite rightly, on the fact that the police yet again seem to have encouraged false information to come out in the immediate aftermath of the killing, particularly to the effect that Duggan fired first. This is part of a worrying pattern – the numerous lies about Jean Charles De Menezes, the false claim that demonstrators attacked police trying to resuscitate Ian Tomlinson.

This is extremely serious because it is part of the picture of the Met, like the rest of government, being much more interested in spin than fact when it comes to dealing with the media. This in turn comes back again to that incestuous web of bungs and consultancy contracts that characterises the Met/Murdoch relationship. The Duggan death shows the police instinct to lie and cover up is as fierce as ever.

But, on the death itself, we have to face the fact that Duggan was no Ian Tomlinson or Jean Charles De Menezes. They were both innocent and unarmed. Duggan was neither innocent nor unarmed. He was a hardened gangster carrying a loaded firearm. I understand the police believed he may have been actually on the way to carry out a “hit” and that is why they stooped him in a public street. I have no reason to disbelieve this.

From the Guardian report:

“Duggan’s family and friends have said that if he was carrying a loaded weapon, they did not believe he would have fired at police.”

That is a highly qualified statement. No doubt that he would carry a loaded weapon, or that he might fire it at somebody else.

Thankfully, being an armed gangster is not a capital offence in the UK and the circumstances described above do not give the police the right to carry out an execution. Obviously something went horribly wrong in the incident, and one possibility must be that the officers, or at least one officer, decided on just such an illegal execution.

But that is by no means the only possibility, and we must also note that this went so wrong that the police injured and could have killed one of their own. It seems most likely that the bullet which passed through Duggan’s bicep was the one that ended lodged in a police radio. How somebody came to open fire when one of his own colleagues was in harm’s way is another important question, and on the face of it would seem to indicate confusion.

The police have harmed their case, perhaps irretrievably in public opinion, by their lack of immediate honesty about whether Duggan fired. But that does not mean they have no case. Duggan was not an entirely innocent man. He is absolutely not, in that sense, in the category of De Menezes or Tomlinson.

I for one do actually want the police to arrest criminals carrying loaded firearms, and I realise that will always be a risky business.

Was this an execution, a botch, or a legitimate response to a leveled weapon? We do not know. The problem is, we can be pretty sure that the well-oiled protection mechanisms that always shield the police from genuine investigation, will kick in again.

The problem, of course, with exoneration of the police in appalling crimes like their execution of Jean Charles De Menezes, is that nobody will believe them when they are in fact in the right. There is a strong possibility they were in the right on this one. They have brought general disbelief upon themselves.


108 thoughts on “The Killing of Mark Duggan

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  • Stephen Morgan

    “Some of you write as if there are no such thing as dangerous armed career gangsters who the police might actually stop occasionally….”
    .
    Any decent career criminal won’t be stopped by the police because he’ll be paying them off. Only small fry get stopped.
    .
    Duggan: what we know is that his dad was a gangster, and that a gun was found “in the vicinity” of his death, one other than the massive arsenal trained on him by the fuzz. Also, he had run ins with the police which could mean being stopped and searched, even I’ve been stopped and searched, or could mean doing time for armed robbery. We don’t know. All we know is that his gun, if it was his gun, wasn’t fired, and that he still ended up filled full of lead.
    .
    Based on that sort of “evidence”, I find it rather distasteful that you would believe anything the police say while speaking ill of the dead. Who they killed. While they offer no evidence beyond their word, which is worth jack shit.

  • Vronsky

    “I have no reason to disbelieve this.”

    Smacks of Establishmentese like ‘there is no evidence that.. ‘ or ‘ there are no plans to..’. Surely in the wake of the Menezes/Tomlinson incidents there are at least grounds to reserve judgement. I should have thought that we all had ample precedent for treating a police claim – any police claim – with caution.
    .
    The police are a pretty bad lot. Me too, I must admit. In a risky youth spent in some risky places I had a friend arrested for assault. ‘It wasn’t me’ he said, perfectly truthfully. ‘I know, but you’ll do’ the constable said. I could multiply such examples many, many times over. I can get close to guessing what it feels like to be black in an English city.
    .
    No reason to disbelieve? Plenty reason to disbelieve.

  • Robert Baggott

    What exactly! do we know about Mark Duggan?.You attest he was a hardened criminal,well who do you cite.The media and only the media have made this claim usually quoting the same man,a Mr Local Resident.His girlfriend does not picture him as a hardened criminal,she says he has never been charged with a crime,never been to jail,had been on remand once.Who to believe,the person that knew him the best or people that in all probability do not exist.Your next uncorroberated claim,that Mark Duggan was carrying a gun.Carrying is very specific,it means it was on Mark Duggans person.Who has ever claimed that Mark Duggan was CARRYING?.The media and only the media,AGAIN! because the IPCC have clearly only ever said,”A gun was found at the scene”.At the “scene” is EXTREMELY! vague,it does not even mean it was inside the cab or even belonged to Mark Duggan.The family have said they do not believe he owned a gun,they are talking IF’S and if’s is mere speculation.
    Jean Charles de Menezes was as much a bomb carrying,illegal immigrant, rapist as Mark Duggan is a gang affiliated,drug dealing,gun waving criminal.This is the logical standing point at this specific time.If Mark Duggan is the person the media say he is?if he led a double life that his family was not aware of? if he really was a Yardie gangster? then I want a lot more than unsubstantiated quotes from unsubstantiated people,making unsubstantiated claims based on nothing.The only fact is that we don’t know any facts,about Mark Duggan’s life or his death.The media have destroyed Mark Duggan’s character,just like they did with Jean Charles de Menezes.They damn well had better be right,because Mark Duggan was a well liked ,well respected member of the black community,not a lone man thousands of miles from home.When his brother said”Mark was a good man” he is obviously talking about the real Mark Duggan and not the cartoon character.

  • Bob Morris

    Welcome to Los Angeles, London, where thugs do indeed roam the streets and cops can be the biggest gang of all.

    The police say Duggan did not fire at them. They also do not say he drew a gun, something they would certainly make a point of saying if he did.

    If the corruption at IPCC is at the levels that it sometimes gets at LAPD and Duggan was a serious career criminal, then this could could get seriously murky. (In Rampart, corrupt cops shot gang members without cause, planted drugs on them, framed them, sold drugs themselves, and even robbed banks.)

    LAPD Rampart scandal
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampart_scandal

    Xinhuanet reports on IPPC statements
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-08/13/c_131046460.htm

    “The IPCC’s first statement, issued at 22:49 on August 4, makes no reference to shots fired at police and our subsequent statements have set out the sequence of events based on the emerging evidence,” it added.

    “However, having reviewed the information the IPCC received and gave out during the very early hours of the unfolding incident, before any documentation had been received, it seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged as this was consistent with early information we received that an officer had been shot and taken to hospital,” according to the statement.

    “Any reference to an exchange of shots was not correct and did not feature in any of our formal statements, although an officer was taken to hospital after the incident,” IPCC said.

  • craig Post author

    Robert,

    The truth will out, not least at the inquest. You are going to look very foolish. Of course his family and friends deny he was a gangster (though not in definitive terms – see the quote in my post above and the exchange with Mary in comments). I can find you plenty of quotes from the Kray twins’ family and friends on what decent blokes they were, too.

    My sources are not media sources. Duggan was an armed criminal. Of course that does not mean he should have been executed. There will be an inquest, with a jury. But the failure of the ideologically blinkered ever to believe anybody is a criminal is absolutely sickening.

    I am reminded why I have never accepted the term left-wing to cover my thinking. It is because many of those who do march under that banner are ever ready to deny truth for the sake of ideology.

    There have been scores of murders involving weapons in London among young black people in recent years. It is a widely acknowledged social problem among the black community.

    Are those also all carried out by the police and framed on young black men?

  • dreoilin

    There’s a Daily Mail hatchet piece here:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025259/London-riots-Mark-Duggans-uncle-Desmond-Dessie-Noonan-crime-lord.html
    .
    with a big splurge on Duggan’s family background, including the fact that his uncle was a big crime boss in Manchester.
    .
    Near the top of the page it says:
    .
    “And in a further indication of Duggan’s gangland links, investigators said yesterday that at the time of his death he had a fully-loaded Italian-made handgun wrapped in a sock.
    .
    “Criminals often fire their weapons from inside a sock to avoid leaving forensic evidence and to catch cartridge cases.” [As defense lawyer I’d say, “Objection! Speculation!”][The Daily Mail left no stone unturned]
    .
    “Yesterday the Independent Police Complaints Commission confirmed that Duggan’s weapon – a BBM ‘Bruni’ pistol containing live rounds – was hidden in a spare sock, not one he was wearing.”
    .
    If you scroll down to the sub head “Police watchdog admits it may have wrongly led journalists to believe Mark Duggan shot at officers before his death” you find,
    .
    “A non-police issue handgun, converted from a blank-firing pistol to one that shoots live rounds, was recovered close to the scene of his death.”
    .
    That doesn’t sound like an Italian-made BBM ‘Bruni’ pistol to me. So which was it. And notice, “was recovered close to the scene of his death”. Not recovered “on him” or “in the cab”. Had he got out of the cab? How close is “close”?
    .
    Aside from that, the Daily Mail has done a hatchet job of guilt by family association. They say he was a member of a gang, but they list no crimes, other than quoting a primary teacher who said he once brought a knife to school. Included eventually is this:
    .
    “But friends say Duggan was planning to marry 29-year-old Semone Wilson, his partner of 12 years, and move away from Tottenham to raise their two sons, aged ten and seven, and 18-month-old daughter.
    .
    “In recent months Duggan, who liked to be photographed wearing chunky jewellery and holding his fingers as if they were a pistol, is said to have become obsessed with the death of his cousin Kelvin Easton, 23, another gang member, in a row over drugs and a woman.
    .
    “Easton was stabbed through the heart with a broken champagne bottle at a nightclub in east London last March.
    .
    “Duggan is said to have become ‘paranoid’ about his own safety and carried a gun for protection.
    .
    “One source said he was planning to avenge the death.” [What source??]
    .
    And what do you know about the inquest, Craig?

  • Robert Baggott

    Mark Duggan, the hardened criminal who knew he was being followed by Police,who knew he would get 10 years just for carrying a gun,decides to have a shoot out with a van full of police despite only having one bullet.

    Yeah that makes sense.NOT!

    Dum Dum bullets don’t ricochet do they?,so the bullet,must!,have passed through the soft tissue of Mark Duggan’s arm into a Policeman on his other side.This really is a bizarre scenario that is going to take some explaining.The shot cop should be dead,maybe he will be so pissed off as to actually want to tell the truth.

  • de Quincy's Ghost

    “Duggan was not an entirely innocent man”
    .
    Of what, was he not innocent ? Do you mean he had previously been found guilty of specific offences, by the justice system that we use for this purpose ? And, the police may well have ‘believed’ he was this, that or the other. That doesn’t distinguish this case from one like de Menezes, where they also ‘believed’ he was a very bad man. Of course they did, they wouldn’t have shot him otherwise. Their belief was mistaken. It can happen.
    .
    I’m not arguing for or against any of the viewpoints on offer, I’m asking why such a hurry to announce our opinions as fact before we know very much ? Especially given that some of the original facts have turned out not to be so, already.

  • craig Post author

    Robert,

    err, if you read my article I said exactly the same thing about the bullet. On the face of it, this indicates some confusion and panic rather than a clincil execution.

  • craig Post author

    DeQuincy’s Ghost,

    Carrying a gun is an offence already. He did have a record but I don’t have details yet.

    Yes he was carrying a loaded gun. It was not planted on or by his body. Such things are of course not impossible, but in this case it was not. Those determined to believe he was an entirely innocent man are so blinded by ideology as to be demented.

  • ingo

    I hope that the full truth come out. I am prepared to consider that the police had targetted this individual and that the timeline of the incident will be established. But the facts do not look good nor can they be defuted by some hints from the sidelines, I would be well aware of the explosiveness of this issue.
    To discriminate what follows from the shooting incident might be possible in law, but the context of the two has to stand as they are connected.

    What led the police to beat up a 16 year old with overwhelming force, when they full well knew that there was tension, when they could have expected that the public would react to their blatancy, what was the reason for creating this diversion and what were their orders towards the rest of the community?

    How much have their action been influenced by the past Broadwater estate incident next door?
    What did they then knew immediately after shooting Mark Duggan?, Did they know that the munition came from their own guns, that they made a mistake, at the time of beating the girl?
    Was this a panic reaction by the police who needed to create a diversion from their mistake?

    because if it was not a mistake, then it was a shoot to kill event and the gun was a cover. How did it get into the bushes, if thats were the gun was found, if the police was surrounding the taxi?
    If I were a lawyer, I would have access to all the information, well, if they were prepared to part with it, but without such insight, their position does not look good.

    If they have information and or phone taps that prove otherwise, then it might be a good idea to have that inquest very soon.

    BTW. I am appalled at the actions to throw out a council tennant just because her son took part in the riots. Did we turf out Elliott Morley and cut his substantial pay whilst he was being investigated. Did Dominic Grieve whilst being investigated had to pay his own way or sleep round a friends house?

    Others are petitioning to turn these rioters into proper criminals, by taking all their benefits away, once again knee jerk reactions that has reciprocity anywhere else.

    So these youngsters are finished then, they have to turn to criminality full time, I’m sure that sort of US justice goes down nicely with the rightwing voters the ConDems are trying to attract back into the fold, almost desperate, but I find that it is merely an indication on how defunct and devoid of ideas they really are. Onwards, towards, more and more fear creating riots. I despair at the stupidity that is offered as a solution.

    When you say that the truth will out, not lest at the inquest.
    Yes if there is an inquest, what of the inquest on Azelle from 2006? will that inquest be taking place before or after the Olypmpics?

  • dreoilin

    Confusion and panic were what killed de Menezes. Armed police officers should not be getting confused and panicky. If that’s their bent, they should not be in an armed unit.

  • dreoilin

    “Those determined to believe he was an entirely innocent man are so blinded by ideology as to be demented.”
    .
    I’m not determined to believe he was innocent. And I’m not blinded by ideology because I don’t have any “ideology” to be blinded by. I’m wondering why lies were told about his death already.

  • Andy

    We don’t actually know that Duggan was carrying a gun, only that one was ‘found’ at the scene. Of course the most likely explanation is that it was his but we don’t know that is true yet.

    Also, I don’t know who your source is Craig but if it’s police, why do you believe them any more than the police who publicly claimed that Duggan shot first?

    There are gang members and gang members. A ‘gang’ may be a bunch of mates who trade in a bit of cannabis in their local area or they could be co-ordinating serious organised crime. Both would explain Duggan getting his ‘fair share’ of police attention (mind you, so would being a black person in a built up area) but if the latter were the case and he’s never been charged with an offence then it’s an inevitable conclusion that he has illicit police contacts helping him out. That’s another issue the police need to have a look at.

    And of course, even gangsters can be good fathers, apart from perhaps the moral compass bit.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Background information for an investigation:-
    Duggan – general background
    Family background?
    Any previous convictions?
    Occupation?
    All know sources of income?
    Standard of living relative to known legitimate earnings and/or savings?
    Night of incident facts?
    Last known police recoding of suspicious conduct?
    Specific information as to the targeting of Duggan on day of his death:-
    i) Nature of information with police relative to the day of the fatal shooting?
    ii) Specific reason for the operation against Duggan on the day?
    Criminal associations
    Any close family involved in gansterism and/or criminal conduct?
    Any direct association with organised crime and/or gangsterism and/or criminal conduct?
    Any motive by the police to target Duggan relative to any criminal associations – if so – for specifically what?
    Any motive on the part of any police to take revenge on Duggan?
    Shooting of Duggan’s cousin
    When and where shot? – fatal or injured?
    Any criminal connections of cousin?
    Any criminal connections between Duggan and his cousin?
    Any motive flowing from the cousin’s shooting to have placed Duggan in fear of his life (i.e. did Duggan have a motive – independent of his own alleged criminal intent to be on a mission that day – or – was it possible that Duggan, while having an illegal weapon, did have it because of fear for his personal safety?)

    Presence of firearm at scene alleged to be Duggan’s firearm:-
    i) Crime scene photograph of firearm in situ.
    ii) Name of person who first spotted the firearm.
    iii) Chain of custody of firearm to lab or police station and detailed written records of dusting for fingerprints and results of DNA assessment to link weapon to Duggan – to establish whether or not the weapon had been in the possession of Duggan before the shooting ( n.b. this step assumes for credible results, that this forensic exercise is carried out with integrity).
    This is not an exhaustive list, but if the investigation is going to be thorough, then this is a starting point.
    Do I know the answers ? No – I do not. When the answers start coming in, a better picture will emerge. Still early days.

  • Beckenridge

    Craig Murray: “I am reminded why I have never accepted the term left-wing to cover my thinking. It is because many of those who do march under that banner are ever ready to deny truth for the sake of ideology.”

    Really? Hmm, two problems with his:

    1) liberalism is an ideology – it just pretends that it is not by taking on the ascetic mantel of idealism
    2) if the left are ‘ready to deny truth for the sake of ideology’ – a comment with no evidence to back it up – then the liberal are ‘ready to deny the truth for the sake of believing the state to be a benevolent player’.

    So we are at a cross-roads, no?

    I’d call this a slur against the left. I also argue that it is completely unwarranted. The above comments are making the very much valid case that the Met is a corrupt organisation and are perfectly capable of obstructing justice – as recent events prove. Do tell me what this has to do with elementary terms like ‘the left’? A rather cheap shot, no?

  • Duncan McFarlane

    If it’s proven Duggan was a criminal and was carrying a gun and was on his way to shoot someone, i’ll find the police actions here more understandable and i admit it’s possible the police are telling the truth about it.

    However the Metropolitan police have lied so many times about deaths they’ve caused that i’ll wait a while to see whether any of the things the police have told the police about Duggan are true. His friends saying he was “no angel” and had been in trouble with police before does not show they’re saying he was a gangster with a gun on the way to kill someone.

  • Hyperionate

    @ Craig

    I’d like to remind you of the well known legal statement that one is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. If one starts to analyse this case on the basis that an individual is immediately guilty – and presents no evidence that proves his conclusions – then surely one is not acting in an objective manner? Why not await further evidence until rushing to the conclusion that he is/was a thug? Does it really help your cause by saying that those who disagree with you are simply “blinded by ideology as to be demented.” I have not witnessed any ideological arguments above. What I have read are comments that have expressed a critical attitude concerning your faith that the system will sufficiently investigate itself. I have noted arguments touching on the corrupted nature of the Met and on the already obvious screw-ups made by the IPCC. I believe you are rather out of line in making the suggestion that any disagreement to your position presents itself as some form of senility to the ‘truth’. The jury as you well know is ‘still out’.

  • Azra

    I was talking on my FB to friend’s daughter who happen to be a Police officer. as far she and her friends were concerned, what police did was absolutely justified, they would do the same if they believed someone had a loaded gun!. When I suggested having a gun did not mean that it was going to be used against the police, they started throwing insults, what the F I thought? should they wait until there a bullet had lodged in their body, etc,etc.. to me that showed the mentality of police officers today.(or maybe this is how they are trained), if you think someone has a gun, then use your gun, kill him, and to hell with the consequences.

  • mary

    The flames are being fanned here. The EDL and the right wing must be loving it.
    .
    I really think you are way off track on this Craig.
    .
    Meanwhile the bastards persecute this good woman. You will not find a mention of this arrest on the corporate media.
    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1313245412.html
    .
    and while I am at it, there is another thread on medialens which is critical about this piece.
    .
    ‘Good night and good luck’ as Ed Murrow used to say. There was a good film made by George Clooney with that title.

  • de Quincy's Ghost

    “Those determined to believe he was an entirely innocent man are so blinded by ideology as to be demented.”
    .
    That’s pretty much a tautology, isn’t it ?
    .
    Hopefully, the inquest will give us some truth, as you say. In the meantime, some of what we’ve been told people knew has turned out to be wrong, and more of it seems confused. Gives the impression of panic, to me too. So I’ll wait to “believe” stuff until there’s a more complete view of the relevant facts.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    If he did have a gun i’d have little sympathy with him and a fair amount of sympathy with the police – but the police have lied so often i don’t feel i can take any of their claims as fact without waiting for an inquiry (and in the De Menezes inquiry we only found out the full truth because IPCC staff leaked information and were prosecuted for it, not due to the IPCC investigation itself)

  • macky

    “Wait until one of them terrorises you and yours and see how you feel then.”

    If it made me feel that criminals deserved to be shoot on the spot in cold blood, then I guess that I wouldn’t be happy living in a Country that has due process, and where ex-judicial killings are illegal. So if you live in such a Country, are you going to lump it, in a democratic sort of way, or are you going to leave for somewhere else to live, more to your liking ?

  • de Quincy's Ghost

    Macky – yes. Exactly. It’s horrifying me, to see how many people seem ready to ditch the big important stuff in favour of some smaller idea of “us against them”.

  • lwtc247

    There is a possible explanation as to why ex-cocaine snorter David Cameron drafted in that NY cop. Perhaps Cokeheed is firing a ‘shot’ across the bows of the Met showing them he realises they are one united seething mass of liars and incompetents who have gone beyond govt control and can’t be trusted to investigate themselves. Then again, maybe not – and the suggestion is rather kind to the old snorter, who really probably doesn’t give a toss about what met does. It was a weird thing to do though and just as weird for that other ‘top’ cop to speak out publicly about it.

  • deQuincysGhost

    Excuse, a minor fit of technical curiosity. Why do some comments come alongside the name bit, and others below ? So try a shorter name & see if it’s that.

  • John Goss

    Even if your source, Craig, is totally unimpeachable, there is something not right here. Mark Duggan, might be linked to criminal activity, and nobody as far as I can see posting on this blog is defending criminals, or criminal activity, but his character should not be assassinated by the media, (the integrity of which has taken a big hit in recent months) until all the facts are known. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, therefore a kangaroo court can have him hanged without hearing a defence. Can that be right? I should like to have heard his defence because I don’t believe in kangaroo courts, and I think he might have had something valuable to say about his dealings with the United States, and he did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction. Likewise with Osama Bin Laden. Likewise with Nicolae Ceauşescu. But dead men tell no tales. And it is difficult to offer a defence on their behalf.

  • de Quincys Ghost

    lwtc247 – I saw a remark somewhere (I can’t remember if it was here; if it was, it may even have been yours) suggesting bad blood between the politicians & the met over the NotW stuff, using this issue to settle scores ? (Also, I doubt if a determination to cut police funding would help, while simultaneously insisting they should have been working even harder)
    .
    I rather felt that Hugh Orde’s remarks on the simple practicality of water-cannon was worth more than all the mobs out howling for them to be used. Even if our prime minister was among the latter. He’s not showing up well, that one.

  • ingo

    we are merely reacting to some media scribes desperate to make some cash from this misery, with a few words thrown in from the sidelines.

    Why don’t we wait for the inquest and ignore these little tit bits thrown to the media to sent them this and that way?

    best is not to blog about it at all, keep these little releases to yourself, we are obviously far too leftwing to comprehend any of it.

    I shall now go and pick two Aubergines, grab a garlic and the Mouli and then go to Mother in laws annual birthday bash.
    leave you with Norwich latest invention rivalling sliced bread, she is able to say everything she heard from above, poor little thing will become PM one day if she’s not carefull.

    http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/time_to_evict_anti_social_families_in_norwich_says_city_mp_1_993379

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