The independent London newspaper

Digital eyes on Mark Duggan shooting

05 December, 2019 — By John Gulliver

A digital re-enactment of the ‘crime scene’ by London University academics. Photo: © Forensic Architecture 2019

WILL the truth ever emerge about the shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011 by the police?

It sparked riots in the capital – clashes with the police that I witnessed in Camden High Street.

Though an inquest returned a verdict of “lawful killing” the Duggan family never accepted it – and it is only in recent weeks, nine years later, that the Met has reached a settlement with them in the courts.

And on Saturday even further light was shed on the mystery – at a public meeting in the archi­tec­tural gem, built in 1905, of Tottenham town hall, at what was a “premiere” of a film depicting a “computer model” of what possibly happened when police “hard-stopped” a mini-cab – and minutes later shot Mark Duggan.

London University academics have created what in effect is a kind of re-enactment of the “crime scene” as it possibly unfolded, using testimony at the inquest and the latest digital techniques that have never been used before.

They do not claim it represents conclusive evidence but a scenario that possibly maps events as they happened. It is one thing to read in cold print in newspaper reports how Mark Duggan was caught by a kind of “cross-fire” between police officers – and quite another to see the “crime scene” on a large screen with visuals of several officers virtually surrounding him just a few yards away.

The mystery hangs on the question: Was Mark Duggan carrying a gun? The only gun, wrapped in a sock, was found 20 feet away. How did it get there? The mystery remains.

As digital technology leaps ahead a team of academics, attached to Goldsmiths College – called Forensics-Architecture – are using it to investigate “crime scenes” around the world where the police and military “violently” clash with protesters resulting in “human rights violations”. It is led by an Israeli professor Eyal Weizman who spoke at the town hall about their investigations of clashes in Gaza. Their work has been shown by UN agencies and in court­rooms all over the world.

But this was the first time this ground-breaking technology has been used in the UK. It was shown in the same week of the Hillsborough court verdict where a former police officer was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter thus leaving bereaved families asking: Where’s the justice? How can 96 people die – and no one is responsible? A who-did-it?, of course, still hangs over the Mark Duggan killing.

The Tottenham Rights campaign, led by Stafford Scott, regard the payment to the Duggan family as an “acknowledgement” of their “wrong-doing”. The police remain silent. Perhaps the “detectives” from Goldsmiths could next turn to the Hillsborough tragedy.


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