The police watchdog has admitted it may have wrongly led journalists to believe that police shooting victim Mark Duggan fired at officers before he was killed.
Mr Duggan’s death in Tottenham, north London, on 4 August, was the trigger for the first of four nights of riots that spread from the capital across England.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed that it may have “inadvertently” given reporters misleading information in the early stages of the investigation.
It was initially reported that Mr Duggan, 29, shot at police. But ballistic tests later found that a bullet which lodged itself in one officer’s radio was police issue.
The IPCC said in a statement today: “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 August 4.
“The IPCC’s first statement, issued at 22.49 on August 4, makes no reference to shots fired at police and our subsequent statements have set out the sequence of events based on the emerging evidence.
“However, having reviewed the information the IPCC received and gave out during the very early hours of the unfolding incident, before any documentation had been received, it seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged, as this was consistent with early information we received that an officer had been shot and taken to hospital.
“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.”
Mr Duggan was a passenger in a minicab which was apparently stopped by police near Tottenham Hale Tube station.
A non-police issue handgun, converted from a blank-firing pistol to one that shoots live rounds, was recovered close to the scene of his death.
The bullet lodged in the police radio was a “jacketed round”, a police-issue bullet consistent with being fired from a Metropolitan Police Heckler and Koch MP5, the IPCC said.
An inquest into Mr Duggan’s death, which opened at North London Coroner’s Court in High Barnet on Tuesday, heard the father-of-four died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.