The police marksman whose shooting of Mark Duggan sparked nationwide riots last summer yesterday described the instant he decided to open fire – saying he was "100 per cent" sure the suspect was armed.
Speaking behind a screen at Snaresbrook Crown Court, the experienced officer, known only as V53, a member of the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Firearms Command CO19 since 2005, said his memory of Mr Duggan emerging from a taxi with a gun on 4 August would "always be in my head".
"The only way I can describe this is it was, if I may, my lord, apologise to the jury, an 'Oh f*** moment'. He's got a gun and he's going to use it on me," he said. He fired two bullets, killing the 29-year-old. The officer was speaking at the trial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who denies providing Mr Duggan with a handgun minutes before he was killed.
The court heard how the police unit had Mr Duggan under surveillance and was tailing him in a minicab between Dalston and Leyton in east London, when he got out of the vehicle "grinning".
The anonymous officer said: "Mark Duggan was holding a handgun in his right hand. He was holding the pistol-grip of the gun. I could make out the shape, the outline, of the gun. I could make out the trigger guard and the barrel. The size of the object he was carrying was of a similar size to the handgun I carry operationally.
"I was aware of previous police incidents in which criminals carry handguns in socks, and there is a black sock covering the firearm Mark Duggan is carrying in his right hand. It is side-on to his stomach."
Just feet away, the suspect appeared to be raising the gun to aim, the officer said: "I had an honest-held belief that Mark Duggan was going to shoot me or one of my colleagues, so I brought my MP5 [sub-machine gun] up to the shooting position." His first round hit the chest. Mr Duggan flinched but was still pointing the firearm at the officer. He continued: "I'm thinking he's going to shoot me or one of my colleagues so I fire a second of my MP5. This has hit him on his right bicep.
"Mark Duggan then fell to the floor. I then closed the suspect down."
Mr Hutchinson-Foster, 30, of no fixed abode, denies "selling or transferring a prohibited firearm" – a modified BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun – to Mr Duggan between 28 July and 5 August, 2011.
The prosecution claims Mr Duggan collected the gun from Mr Hutchinson-Foster in east London, where he placed it in a shoebox.
It was, the Crown says, the same firearm the defendant had used in an attack on Peter Osadebay in a barber's shop six days later. Traces of Mr Osadebay's blood and Mr Hutchinson-Foster's DNA were found on the gun when it was retrieved, while the shoebox was found in the minicab with both Mr Duggan's and the defendant's fingerprints on it.
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