Mark Duggan 'did not need to die' - witness

By Dominic Casciani
Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

Media caption,
Witness 'B': "All of the police officers... saw his hands up"

The only known member of the public to witness the death of Mark Duggan has told BBC News that he believes the police did not need to shoot him.

'Witness B' gave evidence anonymously to the inquest after witnessing the shooting from a flat overlooking the scene in Tottenham, north London.

He told the inquest that Mr Duggan was not holding a gun and he was executed.

The jury found that the dead man was not holding a gun but concluded it was a lawful death.

The inquest heard that a gun given to Mr Duggan was found some metres away from the scene but nobody knew how it had got there.

The jury agreed the 29-year-old had a gun - and concluded by a majority that it was likely that he had thrown it away himself as his minicab was stopped and surrounded by armed police.

Speaking exclusively to BBC News, "Witness B" said that when armed police stopped Mr Duggan's minicab in August 2011, the suspect got out and tried to run - but then turned back and faced the police officers.

"Witness B" described the shooting as "utter chaos" with scenes that he would not even expect to see in a Third World country.

"I heard the screeching and the shouting and looked out of the window," he said.

"I saw him [Duggan] turn around because someone was blocking him. He ran back. There were coppers about. They asked him 'put it down' or 'get down'.

"His hands were practically up towards his face and he was not threatening. He did not look threatening - and the police officer just shot him. I thought they would just try to restrain him but, no, they just shot him."

'Witness B' was in a high-rise building with another witness and recorded the scene on two cameras. He began the first of these seconds after the two shots were fired.

Clear view of scene

Although he was more than 100 metres away, he said his angle of vision gave him a clear view of the scene - and he was adamant that the suspect was not holding a gun.

During his evidence to the inquest, he was repeatedly challenged by counsel for the Metropolitan Police and its officers.

'Witness B' spoke to BBC News after the death and provided his video footage - which the BBC in turn provided to the inquest.

Under cross-examination by Ian Stern QC for the police firearms officers, he was asked why notes taken by a journalist suggested that 'Witness B' had originally thought Mr Duggan had a gun.

'Witness B' said he could not remember saying that and he denied changing his mind.

Mr Stern asked: "How are you sure from 150 metres away that it was a phone?" - to which 'Witness B' replied: "20/20 vision."

Speaking to BBC News, the witness said: "We were looking at it [from a high] angle. He did not have a gun at all. He was clutching a phone. By the looks of it it was small, it was ... silvery. It was just clutched in his hand. Looking at it from that distance, it was not a gun. He was not aiming and he did not take any actions to shoot.

"It was not a gun, I stick to my word, definitely."

Asked if he believed that police needed to shoot Mark Duggan, 'Witness B' said: "No, not at all. His look was a bit 'what's going on', baffled.

'Wanted him dead'

"They could have just approached him and put him down, put the cuffs on him. but they didn't.

"It could have been handled a lot better," he said. "I just think that it was an execution and they wanted him dead.

"When you actually stop and put your hands up, then you expect to be arrested, not get shot. I just think it was pretty bad. I just think it was wrong."

"I know that all of the police officers that stood there and saw him, that were asking him to get down and put it down, all of them saw his hands up, that's for sure."