What Happened to Mark Duggan, The Man Who Sparked the London Riots?

Death of 29-year-old at hands of police reported as cause of unrest.

August 9, 2011, 1:15 PM

Aug. 9, 2011 — -- On the night of Thursday, Aug. 4, a 29-year-old father of four with reported links to London gangs was shot and killed by officers in London's Scotland Yard. Five days later, more than 500 people have been arrested, at least 111 police officers have been injured, one person has died and several buildings have been completely engulfed in flames in one of the largest riots in England's modern history.

The riot is believed to have grown out of a peaceful vigil in the London neighborhood of Tottenham for the death of Mark Duggan that quickly spiraled out of control. London's Metropolitan Police declined to answer questions posed by ABC News about what exactly occurred the night Duggan was gunned down, but an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today that when Duggan was killed, he likely had never fired on police.

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According to an account provided by the IPCC, Duggan was a passenger in a minicab when the cab was stopped Thursday evening by submachine gun-toting officers from Scotland Yard's Operation Trident -- a special operation "dealing with gun crime among black communities, in particular drug-related shootings."

What happened next is unclear due to conflicting reports by the IPCC and London-based media, which only have basic facts in common: multiple shots were fired, at least one bullet was lodged in a police radio worn by one of the officers and when it was over, Duggan was dead.

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Based on the IPCC account, two shots were fired by a single officer. Later, after Duggan was pronounced dead at the scene, the IPCC said a post-mortem examination revealed he had been shot in the right arm but was felled by a single shot to the chest. A non-official handgun was recovered from the scene, but it did not appear that gun had been fired, the IPCC said.

Though the IPCC does not mention other shots being fired, it did confirm another bullet was recovered from the radio worn by one of the police officers. That bullet was consistent with those fired from the submachine guns carried by the officers.

Along with scouring the area for CCTV footage, the IPCC said it is taking statements from witnesses including the driver of the minicab who was not injured but "badly shaken by what he saw."

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One witness, quoted in the London Evening Standard, said that police shot Duggan dead as he lay on the ground.

"About three or four police officers had both men pinned on the ground at gunpoint. They were really big guns and then I heard four loud shots. The police shot him on the floor," the witness said.

In an earlier IPCC statement, the commission pushed back against the idea Duggan had been executed.

"Speculation that Mark Duggan was 'assassinated' in an execution style [incident] involving a number of shots to the head are categorically untrue," the IPCC said.

The officers involved in the shooting reportedly described Duggan as having made a movement like he was drawing a gun before he was shot, according to The London Times.

Conflicting Descriptions of Shooting Victim

Semone Wilson, a 29-year-old woman reported to be Duggan's fiancee, told several news outlets she had received a text message from Duggan approximately 15 minutes before the shooting, in which he said the "Feds" were following him.

Close relatives of Duggan provided a glowing description of Duggan, father to four children.

"He was a good man. He was a family man," one relative told London's The Guardian.

Wilson told Channel 4 News Duggan was not the gangster he had been described to be and said she knew Duggan would not have fired on police.

"They portray Mark as a gangster but he's not known to any gangsters or gangs," Wilson said. "Don't get me wrong, he's well known, very popular, but he's not a gangster. He's a loving caring guy."

But both Duggan's Facebook page and other media reports allegedly show connections between Duggan and a well-known London gang, according to The Guardian.

The Voice, Britain's leading black newspaper, wrote that Duggan and his best friend both were "linked" to Tottenham's Star Gang. Still, according to The Voice, friends described Duggan and his friend as "fun-loving party boys" who were well-known in London's rave scene, but not hardened gangsters.

"Let me put it this way, Mark was the kind of guy who would know better. He was a road guy, he knows you don't shoot at the police," one friend said.

Scotland Yard declined to comment on Duggan's alleged criminal history.

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