Innovation That Matters

A still from a recreation of the shooting of Mark Duggan | Photo source Forensic Architecture

Virtual reality used to recreate police shooting, yielding new evidence

Architecture & Design

Forensic architecture techniques have provided new evidence in the 2011 police killing of Mark Duggan

Spotted: One investigative technique you won’t often see on CSI is forensic architecture. But this method of recreating crimes and accidents is increasingly being used. Now, a forensic research agency, aptly named Forensic Architecture, has reconstructed the 2011 killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan by undercover police officers, an event which sparked violent riots in London. In doing so, the company has demonstrated that the official police findings on his death are inaccurate.

Duggan was shot by police after the minicab he was travelling in was forced to pull over. Police officers shot Duggan after he exited the cab, later claiming that he was brandishing a gun. After his death, a handgun wrapped in a sock was found seven metres from Duggan’s body. However, no DNA evidence was ever found on the gun to connect it to Duggan. An inquest and later investigation into the killing concluded that Duggan was throwing the gun when he was shot.

Forensic Architecture used witness testimony, expert reports and video, photographs and hand-drawn plans to construct an animated virtual reality environment of the scene of the shooting. They then used this model to test different scenarios for the event. After doing so, Forensic Architecture concluded that Duggan could not have physically been holding the gun when he was shot by the police and that it is very unlikely he could have thrown the gun to where it was found. 

Forensic Architecture founder Eyal Weizman has described the groups’ work as demonstrating, “that independent civil society groups, empowered by new media technologies, are capable of holding the police and their oversight bodies to account. Events in the US and elsewhere show that this is more necessary than ever.”

Springwise does not often cover innovations in law enforcement, but we have seen many examples of technology that can be applied to both policing and protection. These have included using VR headsets to re-enact crimes for juries and biometric tools that can identify individuals from their footsteps.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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