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Fresh controversy over Mark Duggan death

VIDEO: Mark Duggan

OUTRAGE HAS erupted over the refusal of 31 police officers to be questioned by watchdog investigators probing circumstances surrounding Mark Duggan’s death.

Duggan, from Tottenham in north London, was shot dead by officers during an operation on August 4. Anger over his death triggered last August’s riots.

Just months shy of the first anniversary of Duggan’s death, the organisation investigating his death, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said it needed new powers to demand witness evidence from officers.

It comes after 31 officers present during the shooting refused to be questioned. Instead, they provided written statements.

Their refusal sparked fury, with black community figures saying this further damages public trust in the police and the IPCC.

Among them was Tottenham MP David Lammy. He said: "It is unacceptable that the police officers have not made themselves available for interview, and it is unacceptable that the IPCC does not have the power to compel them to do so."

Lammy said members of the public would expect to be questioned under similar circumstances: "There cannot be a completely different rule for police officers," he said.

Lammy said any ‘unnecessary delay… unhelpfully presents the image of a police service unwilling to cooperate with the community in wanting to find out what happened that evening.'

"There needs to be a complete overhaul in the powers afforded to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in order for it to be fit for purpose."

Rev Nims Obunge, from Peace Alliance, told The Voice: “I think it is really important that the police are seen to be cooperating with the IPCC in order to build public confidence.”

Obunge, pastor at the Freedom's Ark Church, in Tottenham, added: “If they are not seen to allow themselves to be presented for interviews to the IPCC, it sends a very negative message and in one sense restricts the truth.”

Well-known Brixton resident and Lambeth social enterprise chief Devon Thomas said the IPCC should subpoena officers.

The Metropolitan Police said: "It recognises and supports the need for the IPCC's independence so the facts can be established. (However) where officers have the status of witnesses in post incident investigations, the way information is provided is set down in law, and in the national Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines… which officers fully comply with."

It said: "The relevant chapter - Post Deployment Processes - was considered and approved by UK forces and the IPCC."

Last week, the BBC showed footage it said an alleged eyewitness took at the scene where police shot Duggan. Questions follow the witness’ comments in the video that officers said: “Put it down”. Initial reports claimed Duggan fired at police but later proved to be false."

A pre-inquest hearing heard his fingerprints and DNA were not on a gun found at the scene. Duggan’s family members were said to be “distraught” after watching the video, which also showed paramedics trying to save Duggan’s life and his body later being covered.

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