Marc Wadsworth - The-Latest Exclusive
More than 600 peaceful mainly young black people packed into Broadwater Farm Community Centre last night to celebrate the life of Mark Duggan, the 29-year-old man whose shooting to death by a police marksman sparked a riot in Tottenham.
Family members took to the microphone to speak of their grief and quest for answers and justice from the authorities. But Duggan’s partner Symone Wilson, mother of three of his four children, was too distraught to be one of them. Wearing a white tee shirt emblazoned with the words “Love of my life”, she heavily criticised blunders by the police watchdog investigating the death which forced them to issue a statement yesterday that it may have misled journalists into believing Duggan had fired at police.
Duggan did not use the converted BBM "Bruni" self loading gun (an Olympic starter pistol for running events that fires blanks) found at the scene when he was shot dead by officers after the minicab he was in at Tottenham Hale was stopped during a planned operation to arrest him.
The failure by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to provide Duggan's family and the local community with reliable information in the aftermath of his death was part of the reason the relatives protested outside the police station last Saturday.
They waited more than four hours for a senior officer to come and speak with them before allegedly a teenaged girl was attacked by police after verbally abusing officers. The incident riled already angry young protestors who peeled away from the demonstration that blocked off High Road, Tottenham, and two police cars parked in a side road were torched.
Symone Wilson told The-Latest: “We put our faith in the IPCC but they have let us down. How can we now trust that they are independent of the police as they say they are? We want to know the truth about how Mark died and will not rest until that information is given to us.”
Her sister, Michelle, whose tee shirt read “Gone but never forgotten”, was more forthright. She said: “The IPCC person (Rachel Cerfontyne, who is leading the investigation) told us one thing behind closed doors, once she eventually spoke with us days after the shooting, and then said something completely different in public. We have been treated really appallingly by the IPCC.”
According to the IPCC, a postmortem showed that Duggan was killed by a single bullet to his chest. He also received a second gunshot wound to his right arm in the shooting at around 6.15pm in Ferry Lane on August 4.
The family, who has hired a leading firm of human rights lawyers to represent them, said they would be seeking their own post mortem on Duggan’s body.
There are conflicting reports about the shooting. One report said the gunman opened fire at an officer whose life was saved when the bullet hit his radio. This has now been discounted by the IPCC.
But a 20-year-old witness, who works nearby but did not want to be named, told the Evening Standard: "I was coming home from work when I saw it all happening in front of my eyes. I came around the corner and saw about six unmarked police cars cornering a people carrier near a bus stop. I heard the police shout something like 'Don't move' and I saw them drag the driver out of the car. I don't know if they dragged the other guy out in the passenger seat. He was the one who got shot - the passenger.”
"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."
Rachel Cerfontyne said: “I know this is an incredibly difficult time for Mark Duggan’s family, who have made it abundantly clear that they in no way condone the violence that we have all seen on the streets of London and elsewhere over the past three nights. I am committed to ensuring they are provided with answers from the IPCC about the investigation into Mark’s death as soon as we have them, and I acknowledge their frustration that this can be a lengthy process.”
She added: “I know that much of this information has been reported in the media already, alongside much inaccurate speculation. Any concerns expressed by the wider public about a perceived lack of information from the IPCC should be considered in the context that I am only willing to share information once I have had it independently verified and once the people who are directly involved in this case – including Duggan’s family and community leaders – have been fully informed.”