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New Interactive Resource by Forensic Architecture. CLICK HERE.

Who was Mark Duggan?

Mark Duggan was born in Tottenham, north London, in 1981 to his mother Pamela, who is originally from Manchester and his late father Bruno. His mother told the inquest that, as an infant, Mark was shy and clingy and that at the age of 12 he went to stay with his aunt Carole in Manchester, who, with Mark’s mother, later took a lead role in organising the Justice 4 Mark Duggan campaign. Mark returned to Tottenham at the age of 17 and went on to father six children, the youngest of whom was born after he died. Mark and his brother grew up together on Broadwater Farm Estate. Mark was four in 1985 when "The Farm" exploded in riots following long-running tensions between the police and members of the Black residents that live there.Mark’s killing led to the 2011 riots / uprising.


At Mark’s funeral, his fiancée, Semone Wilson said in a tribute read out by her sister, Michelle: "He gave me four beautiful children and I will always love him for that. We laughed together, we cried together, we faced all the trials and

tribulations together.” The service heard Mark Duggan, whose fourth child with Semone was stillborn in 2008, had been a keen footballer and boxer in his youth.


Bishop Kwaku Frimpong-Manson, who has worked on Broadwater Farm for 21 years and was living above Mr Duggan when he was born, officiated. He said: "Mark was a nice guy, a cool guy. I lived in the same flat, so it was like he was my child. A lot of the youths have double lives, but he was a normal young guy with respect. I remember him as a great boy that I loved, always smiling."

What happened?

On Thursday 4th August 2011, 29 year old Mark Duggan was travelling home through Tottenham on Ferry Lane in a mini cab. He was being followed by armed police who performed a ‘hard stop’ manoeuvre to intercept the vehicle. Mark was shot twice and pronounced dead at the scene at 6:41pm. The media alluded to a shootout - the IPCC later apologised for this misinformation. Mark was shot in broad daylight. It is highly likely people witnessed this horrific incident. Mark’s family believe that one of the reasons that Mark was presented as a ‘gangster’ in the media, was to discourage and scare witnesses from coming forward. 


On Saturday 6 August 2011, about 300 people gathered outside Tottenham police station after marching from the Broadwater Farm estate. They demanded justice for Mark and his family. It has been reported that violence started as a result of an altercation where police were harassing a teenager. Tensions escalated over the weekend and cities across the UK experienced civil unrest as a result.


Witnesses report that the protest begins peacefully.

Myth: Mark was a known criminal.
Fact: Mark had never served a jail sentence and only had two minor convictions – one for possessing a small amount of marijuana and one for accepting stolen goods.

Myth: Police had evidence Mark was a gang leader.
Fact: There was no evidence presented at court that showed Mark was a gang member and police admitted the information they had received to suggest this was the equivalent to a conversation overheard in a pub. Claudia Webbe, a founder of Operation Trident, said that in all her years involved in the unit “at no time was the name Mark Duggan put on the table as someone who was a senior member of London’s gun criminality, behind a string of gun related murders, regularly evading justice. His name was never mentioned, not once.”

Myth: Mark was aiming a gun at police when he was shot.
Fact: The only person that claims he saw Mark holding a gun was the officer (V53) who killed him. Expert witness Professor Derrick Pounder testified that in his opinion officer V53 had probably been wrong to claim Mark had been pointing a gun at him in a threatening manner when he fired the second fatal shot – ballistic evidence indicated he was falling or stooped at the time. An independent witness testified that Mark had his hands up and was holding a BlackBerry phone when he was shot. He described the shooting as an execution.

Myth: Mark threw the gun away before or after he was shot.
Fact: Expert witness Professor Jonathan Clasper said it was unlikely that Mark could have disposed of the weapon in the instant that the bullets struck his body. No attending officers claim to have seen Mark throw the gun in the moments after he was shot. Mark’s DNA was not found on the gun or sock in which it was found 20 feet from his body. As Mark was unarmed he could have been easily arrested, taken into custody and charged or released.

Myth: Armed police only fire when completely necessary to remove an immediate risk and must account for every shot they fire.
Fact: Unfortunately we have many cases that prove this is not true, including Anthony Granger, Jean Charles De Menzes and Azelle Rodney. If Mark was a risk to the police, the second fatal shot is still not justified: evidence showed he was falling when it was fired. Why was this second fatal shot fired? But witnesses have testified Mark was unarmed and surrendering which would suggest there was no immediate risk at all. The gun found 20 feet from Mark’s body not only had none of Mark’s DNA on it but was not even clocked in readiness to fire. Yet V53 claims he feared for his life as Mark was pointing this gun at him ready to shoot.


Myth: The police do their utmost to protect the public.
Fact: After a police officer fatally shot unarmed Azelle Rodney six times in 2005 (an inquest in 2013 found it to be an unlawful killing), the Metropolitan police were advised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission to review the use of their ‘hard stop’ procedures as they were a risk to public, suspects and officers. Six years later and an unarmed Mark Duggan was killed in another ‘hard stop’.


Myth: The police are accountable and are not above the law.
Fact: Inquest has recorded over 4,500 deaths in prison and in police custody in England and Wales between 1990 and 2013: “Many of these deaths have raised serious issues of negligence, systemic failures to care for the vulnerable, institutional violence, racism, inhumane treatment and abuse of human rights. There is a pattern of institutionalised reluctance to approach deaths in custody as potential homicides even where there have been systemic failings and gross negligence has occurred. There has not been a successful homicide prosecution for a death in custody for over 30 years.”

What was the legal implication?

The jury found that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed despite finding he was unarmed at the time. The family sought to quash the inquest conclusion arguing that the Coroner misdirected the jury. The Coroner should have made clear that if they found Mark to be unarmed at the time, they could not return a conclusion of lawful killing. 


In 2017, the court of appeal rejected an appeal by Mark Duggan’s mother, to quash the inquest verdict that he was lawfully killed. In 2019, Mark’s family lodged a civil claim against the Metropolitan police, who made no admission of liability for Duggan’s death. Later in 2019, Mark’s family settled.

Further information.

If you want to find out more about  other victims of police and state violence in the UK, click here.

The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where restraint is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody. The proportion of BAME deaths in custody where mental health-related issues are a feature is nearly two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody.

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