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‘Our officer had reasonable belief Mark Duggan had gun’

STATEMENT: The Met's assistant commissioner Mark Rowley (PA)

LONDON POLICE have issued an official statement defending the actions of an officer who shot dead the unarmed Mark Duggan, following the inquest jury deciding that the Tottenham resident was lawfully killed.

There has been outrage within the community and from the family of Duggan about the hearing’s conclusion that Duggan was killed legally despite having no firearm in his hand, because, they decided, he had thrown the gun over a fence.

Speaking in defence of the officer who fired the fatal shot on August 4, 2011, in Ferry Lane, north London, the Met’s assistant commissioner Mark Rowley attempted to raise his voice above angry cries from members of the public gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

With cries of “murderer” and “no justice, no peace”, Rowley said: “It is significant, then, that a jury of Londoners, who have seen and heard all the evidence, have today concluded that not only was the operation to stop Mark Duggan in the taxi conducted in a way which minimised to the greatest extent possible recourse to lethal force, but that Mark Duggan had a gun, and also that our officer had an honest and reasonable belief that Mark Duggan still had the gun when he shot him.”

However, the jury decided that police failed to act in the best possible way with intelligence prior to the shooting and that Duggan did not have a gun when shot dead.

The senior lawman acknowledged the lack of belief in the police’s actions when he added: “We know the trust is not shared by everyone.

“I will be offering to meet Mark Duggan's family to express our sorrow. And we will continue working with local leaders to strengthen relationships. We know it will take time.”

Rowley also praised the efforts of armed officers in the line of duty, and said: “But the task our officers face in making split-second decisions when confronting armed criminals means there is a risk - a very small risk - that this will happen.

“Armed criminals have shot dead more than 50 people in London in the last 3 and a half years. We send out well-trained, professional armed officers thousands of times a year to combat this threat, only firing shots once or twice. These careful tactics have significantly reduced gun crime.”

Before police announced their statement, the family of Duggan told reporters of their shock and anger about the inquest jury decision.

The aunt of Duggan, Carole Duggan, said the family would not rest until they get justice.

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