The British police watchdog has admitted that it may have deceived journalists into believing that officers killed black man Mark Duggan by live bullets after he fired at the police.
The police in north London Tottenham area shot dead the 29-year-old father of four last Thursday in an incident that triggered the worst civil unrest in Britain for decades while the media were quick to label Duggan a gangster that first fired at officers before they killed him.
However, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said in a statement that the police fired all the shots and that a bullet lodged in an officer's radio, formerly reported to have been fired by Duggan's gun, was a “jacketed round” and police issue.
"Analysis of media coverage and queries raised on Twitter have alerted us to the possibility that we may have inadvertently given misleading information to journalists when responding to very early media queries following the shooting of Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police Service officers on the evening of 4 August," the IPCC said.
"However, having reviewed the information the IPCC received and gave out during the very early hours of the unfolding incident… it seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to [wrongly] believe that shots were exchanged,” it added.
The Metropolitan Police stopped a minicab, which was carrying Duggan as a passenger, at about 18:15 BST on August 4, 2011 to carry out an arrest as part of a pre-planned operation, and officers fired shots, one of which hit Duggan in the chest and killed him.
Reports claimed after Duggan's killing that he was carrying a gun, illegally converted to fire live ammunition, but his friends and relatives said he was unarmed.
A Bruni BBM pistol was recovered from the scene of the shooting but there is no evidence showing it was on Duggan when he was killed.
The IPCC said in its statement that their initial report into the incident did not refer to an exchange of shots though its wording may have suggested differently.
"Any reference to an exchange of shots was not correct and did not feature in any of our formal statements, although an officer was taken to hospital after the incident," it said.
Duggan's death raised public outrage among community members in Tottenham and hundreds of them gathered outside a police station in the area to “demand justice” and police explanation on his death.
None of the officers at the police station met the protestors that were holding a peaceful gathering, which did not help quell the sentiments of enraged community members.
As night fell, there were clashes between officers and demonstrators, which erupted into one of the most serious violent episodes in Tottenham's history as several vehicles, buildings and shops were set on fire.
The wave of unrest soon reached several areas of London and other cities that witnessed the killing of several people, burning of more buildings and torching of vehicles.