Azelle Rodney inquiry: Police had ‘no lawful justification’ for fatal shooting

11:06 05 July 2013

A report has found that Azelle Rodney was unlawfully killed by police.

A report has found that Azelle Rodney was unlawfully killed by police.

Archant

There was ‘no lawful justification’ for the lethal shooting of Azelle Rodney by police eight years ago, according to a public inquiry.

The 24-year-old was shot six times by an officer on April 30, 2005 during an operation in Edgware to stop a vehicle police believed was on the way to commit an armed robbery.

Today’s report said the police marksman’s account of what happened ‘are not to be accepted’, and his use of force was ‘not proportionate’.

The results of the public inquiry, led by former High Court judge Sir Christopher Holland will be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if further action is necessary.

The police officer who fired the shots, referred to as E7 to protect his identity, was assigned to provide ‘static cover’ during the operation back in 2005.

The Metropolitan Police believed the occupants of the car Mr Rodney was in were on the way to rob a Columbian drug gang, and aimed to intercept them on route, known as a ‘hard stop’.

This meant E7 was in the car which pulled alongside the one containing Azelle Rodney outside the Railway Tavern on Hale Lane, Mill Hill, and was tasked to stay inside the car and aim his gun at the men inside.

But the report found that almost instantaneously after his police vehicle stopped next to the suspects’ he fired a burst of automatic weapon fire.

E7 fired six shots in just over a second, paused briefly and fired two more.

Of the first four bullets one hit Mr Rodney in the arm, and another in the back as he twisted around, and neither would have proved lethal according to a coroner.

But the inquiry found all of the shots from five to eight into the 24-year-old’s head would have killed him.

The officer said he believed Mr Rodney, the rear passenger, had access to a gun which could fire 1,000 bullets a minute.

He gave evidence saying the 24-year-old’s movements in the back of the car as he pulled alongside led him to think he was in possession of a weapon.

Several guns were recovered from the vehicle, but none could have been discharged at the point Mr Rodney was shot.

Sir Christopher Holland said E7’s accounts of what he saw are not to be accepted, and he ‘could not rationally have believed’ Mr Rodney had picked up a gun and was about to use it.

In a damning indictment of the officer’s conduct the report said not only was the officer not justified in firing any of the eight shots he made, even if he genuinely believed that Azelle Rodney had picked up an automatic weapon it would still not have been right to open fire.

Sir Christopher said: “Because, even if it was proportionate to open fire at all, there would have been no basis for firing the fatal fifth to eighth shots.”

As well as the conduct of E7 the report was highly critical of the police operation, from its planning, to the dual roles some officers had to undertake, and the decision to perform the ‘hard stop’ outside a busy pub with customers outside.

The inquiry found the officers in the three cars which stopped the suspects unnecessarily rammed their target, failed to wear high-visibility caps notifying they were police, and the use of special shotguns to puncture the vehicle’s tyres.

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