LONDON (AP) — A British coroner on Monday opened the long-awaited inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old man whose shooting by London police sparked days of dramatic riots across England.
Duggan's death in the working-class London district of Tottenham on Aug. 4, 2011, was the spark that set off Britain's worst civil unrest in a generation. After a protest vigil in his honor turned violent following a confrontation with police, within days a wave of rioting, looting, and arson spread from Tottenham to London and then across England as police struggled to contain the unrest. The fiery scenes tarnished Britain's image only a year before the 2012 Olympics.
Britons are still arguing about the underlying causes of the unrest: Was it the result of racial tension? Police brutality? Deprivation? Or was it simply opportunistic criminality?
One of the critical unanswered questions concerns why Duggan was shot. A gun was recovered from the scene, but the circumstances surrounding its discovery — and what Duggan might or might not have been doing with it — have been clouded by angry debate and speculation.
Judge Keith Cutler told jurors at the Duggan inquest on Monday that they were on a "quest to find the truth."
Inquests are a kind of investigation held in Britain to establish the facts about violent or unexplained deaths. They do not apportion blame, but can sometimes serve as the basis for further legal action.