Police were braced for increased tension in Tottenham, north London, after a jury concluded that the shooting by police of Mark Duggan, the young father whose death sparked the summer riots in 2011, was lawful.
The family and friends of the 29-year-old, reacted with disbelief and anger after the jury ruled that Mr Duggan’s killing had been justified, despite concluding that he did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot.
Supporters of the father of six, yelled abuse at the jury and branded the police as “murderers”, while security guards were forced to intervene when some began kicking a door and turning over furniture in the High Court.
Mr Duggan’s aunt Carole Duggan said: “The majority of the people in this country know that Mark was executed. We are going to fight until we have no breath left in our body for Mark and his children.”
With cries of: “No justice, no peace,” they also shouted down the Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley as he attempted to read a statement on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice.
Mr Duggan, who grew up on the infamous Broadwater Farm estate, where Pc Keith Blakelock was hacked to death in 1985, was reputed to be a founding member of the area’s feared Star Gang.
The nephew of gangland boss Desmon Noonan, it is claimed he was a drug dealer who was planning a major cannabis deal when he was shot.
He was also thought to be associated with Tottenham’s Man Dem gang, which has been linked to ten shootings and ten murders in north London.
Police in Tottenham were on alert amid simmering tensions, as locals expressed the fear that anger over the verdict could escalate into violence and civil disruption.
One young man who was among a small group gathered outside Tottenham police station said: “There’s a lot of anger here at the moment. Things are going to get hotter, you just wait.”
Mr Duggan’s shooting was the catalyst to some of the worst rioting in Britain for a generation.
Anger in his local community following news of the shooting spilled over into violence and looting with a number of properties and businesses being destroyed.
In the following days the disturbances spread across the capital and further afield including cities such as Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.
Five people died during the riots and the cost of the damage has been estimated at £200 million.
The jury of seven women and three men concluded that Mr Duggan, who was shot dead as he travelled towards his home in north east London in a taxi, was carrying a gun at the time but had thrown it out of the window when he was challenged by armed officers.
Outside court the Duggan family solicitor expressed the family’s dismay at the verdict telling reporters: “On the 4 August an unarmed man was shot down in Tottenham. Today we have had what we can only call a perverse judgement.
“The jury found he had no gun and yet he was gunned down – for us that’s an unlawful killing. The family are in a state if shock and we ask that you would respect that shock.
“They can’t believe that this was the outcome. No gun in his hand yet he was shot. Murdered. No justice. No peace.”
Struggling to make himself heard and being jostled by the angry crowd, ACC Rowley defended the actions of his armed officers, insisting their priority was always to protect the public from the threat of gun crime.
He said: “No officer sets out at the start of the day to run an operation that results in someone dying. So our sympathy today is with Mark Duggan’s family. They have lost a loved one.
“But the task our officers face in making split-second decisions when confronting armed criminals means there is a risk – a very small risk – that this will happen.
“Armed criminals have shot dead more than 50 people in London in the last 3 and a half years. We send out well-trained, professional armed officers thousands of times a year to combat this threat, only firing shots once or twice. These careful tactics have significantly reduced gun crime.”
He added: “We know the trust is not shared by everyone. I will be offering to meet Mark Duggan’s family to express our sorrow. And we will continue working with local leaders to strengthen relationships. We know it will take time.”
But local MP David Lammy said despite the verdict, the Met still had a number of questions to answer about their handling of the case.
Other Labour MPs went as far as to criticise the verdict with veteran left-winger Dianne Abbot describing it as “baffling”.
She said: “There’s going to be a lot of questions asked in the community this evening.”
But London Mayor, Boris Johnson, acknowledged the “incredible pressure” under which firearms officers operated.
During the four month inquest, the jury heard evidence from the officer who fired the fatal shots.
Identified only as V53, he described the events in the moments leading up to his decision to open fire, telling jurors he had the honest belief he was about to be shot.
Solicitors for Mr Duggan’s family suggested that the gun had been planted by police, something one officer described as “highly offensive”.
On Wednesday night a police source said a planned vigil for Duggan outside Tottenham Police station had been cancelled.
The source said it had been due to take place around 5.30pm but the reasons for the cancellation were not known.
Two uniformed officers were patrolling outside the station and a police riot van parked briefly outside.
Meanwhile Mr Duggan’s family said they were considering whether to mount a judicial review of the inquest verdict.