Another Black Man Shot Down: A Story Of Police Brutality


Days after Mark Duggan was fatally shot by London police, a peaceful protest exploded into riots that spread across Great Britain and burned through the international media. Duggan has since been dismissed as a gangster, his supporters shrugged off as looting villains. But when it comes to police brutality in the U.K., half the story has never been told. VIBE sifts through the ashes of Duggan’s Tottenham hometown and turns to his family for answers

WORDS: Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou | PHOTOS: Will Robson-Scott

Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old London-based father of four, sent a text to his mates at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 4: “Yo fam, you on the block? Watch out 4 green VW van. Trident just jammed me.” Duggan was referring to Operation Trident, a Metropolitan Police Service program designed to limit illegal guns in the Black community.

About the same time, Semone Wilson, the mother of three of his children, received a similar message from Mark: “The Feds are following me.” It was the last she ever heard from him. While his phone continued to buzz, Mark Duggan would send no more texts that evening—or ever. Around 6:15 p.m. the silver Toyota Estima minicab he was riding in got pulled over by Metropolitan Police near the Tottenham Hale Tube station. According to police sources, Duggan was an alleged drug dealer on his way to avenge his friend, 23-year-old Kelvin Easton, aka “Smegz,” who had been stabbed to death with a broken champagne bottle at a nightclub the previous March.

Exactly what transpired in the moments between the traffic stop and the shooting remains unclear. Minutes after Mark sent his last text, his younger brother Marlon got a call from an eyewitness saying Mark had been shot by police. Rushing to the scene, Marlon Duggan encountered a group of officers. He was told that his brother had been rushed to Royal London Hospital in London’s East End. Marlon called Semone and told her to meet him at the hospital.  But when they went to check for Mark in the emergency room, he wasn’t there. Fearing the worst, Semone rushed to the scene. After showing police Mark’s birth certificate and pictures on her phone, she was allowed to cross the yellow tape. She described the tattoos of their children that adorned his skin, but the police refused to tell her if he had been shot, even as Mark’s lifeless body laid under a sheet nearby.

Later, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reported that he had been involved in a shoot-out with police, in which he wounded an officer before being fatally shot. The Daily Mail, Britain’s second largest newspaper, published a similar account: “Mark Duggan, 29, was in a car being followed by police during a covert operation... But Duggan, a known offender from London’s notorious Broadwater Farm Estate, became aware that he was being followed and opened fire on the officers. He shot the officer from Scotland Yard’s elite firearms squad CO19 in the side of his chest with a handgun. Armed officers shot the gunman dead seconds later.” However, it was later revealed that the bullet lodged in a police radio, sparing the officer from any injury.

The headline on Rupert Murdoch’s The Times screamed: “Policeman cheats death after bullet hits radio during London gunfight.” This did not sit well in Broadwater Farm Estate—aka “the Farm”—the public housing community in Tottenham, North London, where Mark Duggan was raised.The people of this mostly Caribbean community told a very different story than the one portrayed by the media. “He picked his son up every day and attended all of the games,” said Clasford Stirling, director of Broadwater Farm football team, where Mark’s son played. “Mark was a good and involved father. He was like a son to me.” Stirling said he understood that Mark was not a saint, but “like most Black youth who grow up, get in a little trouble and get criminalized.”

At 22, Mark was held by police for possession of marijuana. The amount was so small that he was released without a criminal conviction. But Mark’s brother Shaun Hall dismissed the gun-slinging gangster reports about Mark as “rubbish.” His friends and family members could not say for sure whether Mark was in possession of a weapon at the time of his death (one was reportedly found at the scene), but they were confident that he would not use a weapon against the cops. “I knew straightaway that it was not right,” Semone said. “He was a runner. He would have run from the police.”

Sure enough, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) eventually released an official report stating that there had been no shoot-out, and in fact only two shots were fired—both of them by police. One bullet fatally struck Mark in the chest. A second round passed through his right bicep. Mark was pronounced dead on the scene at 6:41 p.m. The Forensic Science Service (FSS) was commissioned by the IPCC to conduct tests on the bullet that was found lodged in a police officer’s jacket radio. Initial findings indicated that the bullet was police issued. And the gun that was found at the scene was not fired. Although London has one of the most extensive public surveillance systems in the world, the closed-circuit camera footage that could clear up so many lingering questions has yet to be released.

So if there was no shoot-out, what really happened?


From the Web

More on Vibe

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oscar Grant's Family Advocates To Have Fruitvale Station Named After Him

Nearly 10 years to the day of his passing, Oscar Grant III's family is aiming to build a tangible legacy in his honor. A request to rename Fruitvale Station in Oakland, Calif., the location where Grant was fatally shot by a police officer on Jan. 1, 2009, has been made. At 22, Grant was killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer while he was handcuffed and face down on the train's platform. The officers were responding to a fight on a crowded train and apprehended Grant and other riders.

“It would be an atonement, it would be part of BART saying yes this happened here, we vow that it won’t happen again and we vow to work with the communities and ensure that all people are treated equally,” Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, said.

According to KGO-TV, BART officials have declared the family's plea unlikely, not based upon the reason of the request, but rather that BART policy requires all stations' names to align with its geographical position. The Oakland transit system will instead install a mural honoring the late father. Currently, in the planning stages, the family also requested a side street at Fruitvale be named after their fallen family member.

Killed in the blink of an eye, Grant's case made him one of the many faces of police brutality. Cellphone cameras caught officers handcuff an unarmed Grant, who was later shot in the back. He died shortly after in a California hospital.

READ MORE: 'Fruitvale Station': Michael B. Jordan On the Many Layers of Oscar Grant 

Continue Reading
Justin Sullivan

Study Shows Gun Violence Cuts African Americans Life Expectancy By Four Years Or More

Gun violence has seeped into the American culture sinking its claws into everyday life. With 53,492 shooting occurring in 2018, the result was more than 13,700 gun-related deaths, reported by the Gun Violence Archive.  A new study led by a professor at Boston University has found that the life expectancy of African-Americans has lowered by more than 4-years due to gun violence.

Based on federal data collected between 2000 and 2016, the research concluded black Americans died more frequently due to homicide among younger ages, although white American gun deaths are linked more so toward suicide amid older folks.

Published Dec. 4 in the BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine journal."Our study using cumulative data from 2000 to 2016 demonstrates a total firearm life expectancy loss of 905.2 days, which is nine times greater than observed in 2000, indicating increasing life expectancy loss by year," wrote Bindu Kalesan, the lead author of the investigation.

Furthering the discussion surrounding firearm injury, Kalesan inferred that gun-related injury causes American's to "lose substantial years." A common misconception surrounding shooting victims, only 30% of people struck by bullets die. However, the trauma endured is now linked to the shortened life expectancy.

One of the studies calculated in the 2000s, "concluded that shootings reduced the average American lifespan by about 100 days, with a significant gap between black and white men: Black men lost 361.5 days, while white men lost 150.7 days," wrote Nick Wing, a journalist at Huffington Post.

Two hundred and eleven days in difference, this study is a clear indication of the racial gap plaguing people-of-color in relation to the inherent violence suffered through life. Gun policy, a clear stain on the American fabric, has become a growing issue, claiming lives by the tens-of-thousands with no clear sign of slowing down. The research illustrates the growing issues within the black community, because not only are we being attacked from all sides, we engage in friendly fire.

READ MORE: Girl Who Penned Essay On Gun Violence Killed By Stray Bullet


Continue Reading
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NYPD Officers Caught Strenuously Pulling One-Year-Old Out Of Mother's Arms

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has found itself in hot water after a video of officers using excessive force to remove a one-year-old from his mother's arms went viral.

Initiated by a verbal dispute with a security guard, a woman identified as Jazmine Headley was sitting on the floor with her son because there were no available seats in her local Brooklyn food stamp office. After being reprimanded by an employee in the benefits office for allegedly blocking the hallway, the cops were called on the 23-year-old.

Headley remained on the floor in the upright position until the officers began to pull at her baby, rushing to arrest and separate her from her child. Hands clasped tight around her child, the mother did her best to keep control of her son, until officers started pulling at the boy as if his limbs were made of rubber.

“They’re hurting my son," she repeatedly screamed while being attacked by four members of the force. Enraged bystanders witnessing the excessive encounter tossed comments about the happenings. After apprehending the baby, and securing Headley, one policeman reached for their yellow stun gun, threatening partons in the office according to The New York Times.

Headley is currently detained in Rikers Island, while the boy, Damone, remains in his grandmother's custody. As a source of advocation for the young mother, Cynthia Nixon, former Sex And The City actress and current day New York City politician, spoke out against the NYPD fiasco.

#JazmineHeadley should not have been arrested, should not have had her child torn from her, should not be sitting in Rikers now

— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) December 10, 2018

READ MORE: NYPD Sergeant Acquitted Of Charges For The Death Of Deborah Danner

Continue Reading

Top Stories