Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Thoughts on Mark Duggan

Trials or inquests by jury are the most democratic means of bringing a legal process to a conclusion. Recruited from the electoral roll, jurors provide an important corrective to magistrates and judges, who might be hardened by the number of cases that come before them and/or be out of touch with the pace of modern life.

Juries aren't perfect by any means. In their turn they are open to manipulation of evidence by skilled barristers, can be bamboozled by expert testimony, and are subject to judicial direction. They can also reach "perverse" conclusions by ignoring the instructions of the judge or the provisions of the law, resorting instead to common sense or the dominant logics that emerge through their process of deliberation.

Unfortunately, today's verdict that Mark Duggan was lawfully killed certainly does count as perverse. I don't know whether Duggan was or wasn't a gangster, or whether he was in possession of a fire arm or not. But the story sanctified by the jury had him carrying a gun before the police stopped his minicab. That he was then separated from his gun - it was probably discarded before the police confronted him. Therefore the jury accepted he was unarmed when he faced his pursuers. And yet, despite accepting this version of events there was nothing unlawful about Duggan's death. The jury felt that the police were correct, under the law, to shoot.


Shooting incidents involving the police are rare - there have been six occasions in London over the last four years that the police have shot someone. Some may be justified, some not. But when there is a case to answer, isn't it peculiar how not one has led to the prosecution of a serving officer? Readers will recall the appalling death of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station. Not only was he shot seven times in the head while being restrained by officers, but the subsequent IPCC showed that the police involved lied about his movements and actions. The Met were found guilty for his killing under health and safety legislation and fined, but there was "insufficient evidence" for a prosecution against the officers responsible.

The Met can apologise all it likes. As far as young people on the inner city beats are concerned, this episode demonstrates that the force is above the law. It shows that even when a someone is known to be defenceless, the police can still get away with murder. And, again, when white officers are shooting dead a mixed race boy it's easy to see how the Met's will-to-racial inclusivity is met with incredulity and contempt by those on the receiving end of their policing.


Dave Levy said...

And released at the same time as we discover that Boris Johnson has supported their request for water cannon. What's hiding what?

Gary Elsby said...

It was always going to be this way from the outset but the 'moral majority' will be less disturbed by this news even though your concerns are well thought out.

I note the calls for Tristram to resign over his WW1 views.
I believe that those calling for his resignation are not wrong in how they wish the outbreak of WW1 to be taught.
Tristram's views seem un aired at present and therefore, difficult to asses.
Ignoring the peace element learned by all wars and taught by all anti war veterans everywhere, your views of the reasons for the outbreak are what?
An Arch Duke being shot isn't the answer, surely?

Speedy said...

The jury sat for 3 months through a considerable amount of evidence, witnesses etc.

Presumably you've done what everyone else did - read a few bits and pieces on the web and watched the news.

My money is on the jury.

Anonymous said...

Juries represent mediocrity, as well as prejudice.

The ideal would be 'experts' without bias. Not possible in this world but neither are democratic juries.

The jury have effectively sanctioned state sponsored murder. very scary, and another step on the road to totalitarianism. I would argue we were already there but you never know who might be reading this!

Adam said...

I'm broadly in agreement with you here Phil, but there's one part of your post I don't think is quite right.

You say:

"It shows that even when a someone is known to be defenceless, the police can still get away with murder"

Well, it depends on what you mean by "known to be" defenceless. We know now that Duggan was defenceless. But did the police officer who shot him know that?

It seems that the jury were not convinced that he did, and presumably thought that his story about believing that Duggan was pointing a gun was true, or at least had a reasonable chance of being true. Remember they would have had to be satisfied to a criminal standard of proof that the officer definitely knew Duggan was unarmed to have reached a verdict of unlawful killing. I think it must be hard for them to be sure what the officer believed at the time, hence the scope for reasonable doubt, which really had to lead to the "lawful killing" verdict. And that's probably as it should be. The police officer was just doing his job. If he simply made a genuine mistake in good faith, then it would be unfair for him to be up on a murder charge.

Having said that, I agree that the verdict stinks. Even if the officer who shot Duggan genuinely believed that he was armed at the time, the only reason he believed that was because the operation was a massive cock-up.

If it were up to me, whichever senior officer were in charge of the operation should have to face criminal accountability for that. What I find really appalling about this case is that apparently the jury were only allowed to reach a verdict of unlawful killing if they believed the officer who pulled the trigger was at fault, which IMHO is ridiculous. If the police more generally were at fault, which it seems to me they clearly were, I don't understand why that can't be unlawful killing.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever the jury's conclusions in the Mark Duggan inquest, there remains a significant question mark over the training of the gun specialists in the police force. On several occasions in recent years we have seen unarmed people who were shot simply because the officers were informed that, whatever the truth, the person was "armed and dangerous".


This leads to a fear within the wider community that the mere suggestion that somebody has a weapon becomes a de-facto death sentence; the officers involved always being able to claim they were in fear of their life. Do we have to wait until the police find themselves being used as assassins in gang turf wars before they reform a "shoot-first, ask-questions-later" training regime obviously more suited to a war zone than a civilian policing situation ?

jimboo said...

Posted this elsewhere and as I lazy just did a copy and paste, I'm into conspiracy theories at the moment.

Only one policeman has openly made a statement about Mark Duggan, the most senior police officer operating in the area at the time.
Det Ch Insp Michael Foote, the senior investigating officer for Operation Dibri, said Mr Duggan “was very, very lightly convicted”; cautioned for a public order offence, convicted and fined £30 for possession of cannabis in 2000 and fined £250 in 2007 for receiving stolen goods. He had never been sent to prison or even given a community sentence.
between June 2010 and August 2011, Det Ch Insp Foote admitted: “I had no information on which I could have arrested Mark Duggan.”
Now in court and in the press unnamed police stated that Mark Duggan was arrested in relation to the murder of Gavin Smith, funnily enough the police have made clear elsewhere that this was a Yardies killing and had nothing to do with the Tottenham gangs, and named two individuals, one who states that the police had already deported the prime suspect to Jamaica.
There is no mention of Mark Duggan in the operation Dibri report, until one checks added notes, if he was such a high up member of the TMD why was he not on the list of suspects, one wonders who added the notes and when.
The unnamed police state he was arrested for the murder of Surkhan Hussein, again others have been named as the main suspects, so why bring this up.
Kevin Hutchinson-Foster found guilty on his second trial for the offence of supplying Duggan with the gun still claims the shoe box contained cannabis.

I am not suggesting a wee bit of Black Ops, but still a lot of tosh being put about by police insiders.

Speedy said...

Helen, it is a fallacy armed police can be trained to "wound". They are there to kill, and that is the only way it can be, unless you want to arm them only with stun guns. That some people survive being shot by the police is lucky for them, but the police were aiming to kill. It is far too dangerous (in the event they miss, the time they have available, hitting civilians etc) for them to do anything else. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.

David Duff said...

Well, somewhat reluctantly I ploughed my way through the tosh above but my diligence was rewarded by not one but two rays of sunshine - and intelligence - from Speedy. Well said, that man!

Anonymous said...

Vigil today. Respect for a gunman. is Tottenham a hopeless dystopia?

jimboo said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vigil today. Respect for a gunman. is Tottenham a hopeless dystopia?

Duggan had never used a gun, that's the point, now look at how the establishment have reacted to Plebgate. Perhaps the divisions within society are initiated from the top down. I think the figures are 330 people killed by the police, 8 policemen charged, none found guilty. I see a problem. When we look at the figures for death in custody and examine the difference between white and BAME , I see aproblem. The people on the street do not see Duggan's death as a State Execution but another gang death at the hands of the biggest gang in London, the Met. When stuff like this happens I do not go to the news site for information but the football blogs / forums and other street based forums where people talk in a way to each other they would not talk to outside the community. Now as for the Hard Stop, in one forum it states that prior to the stop the music in the car - van is pumped up to high volume with heavey Bass old skool headbanging music (not too sure of the genre, but you get the idea)and the officers leave the vehicle in an extremely highly charged state.

Anonymous said...

Jimboo: Duggan had a gun. What for? Why live in denial? London is already seeing kids murdered by gun crime and most of the victims are black. Respect does not come from the barrel of a gun. Where are the the leaders, as opposed to apologists,in these blighted communities.

jimboo said...

I am sure the jury accepted he was unarmed, it is not not me in denial.

Anonymous said...

He had been carrying a gun, even if it wasn't on him when he was shot. The Rev Nims Obunge at least acknowledged that and showed some leadership. Good for him. the community needs that.

jimboo said...

He had been carrying a gun, even if it wasn't on him when he was shot. The Rev Nims Obunge at least acknowledged that

Got a link to that one?
Can't seem to find it!

Gary Elsby said...

It's not that he was carrying a gun or not carrying a gun (an idiot knows the difference, it is that the police 'thought' he was carrying a gun.

Try John Shorthouse (guilty of being five years old) or Harry Stanley (he had an illegal irish accent).

jimboo said...

How about using the original photo alongside the cropped press version. Still have not seen any corroborated evidence confirming Mark Duggan was a gangster. Why should the police believe he had a gun by the way, the met are lying throught their teeth all the time it seems.