May 24 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
A police officer who gunned down a 24-year-old had previously shot dead two people in his career, an inquiry has heard.
Azelle Rodney died when police stopped the car in which he was travelling in Edgware, north London in April 2005.
Officers believed he and the two other men in the VW Golf were part of an armed gang on their way to rob drug dealers.
Mr Rodney’s mother, Susan Alexander, stormed out of the inquiry into her son’s death today after interrupting and asking the officer who shot her son: “How many more lies are you going to tell?”
Today the firearms expert who shot Mr Rodney told the inquiry he saw the 24-year-old looking left and right and ducking down in the back seat of the car.
The officer, who has been given anonymity and was identified only as E7, opened fire less than a second after pulling up beside the car.
He said: “His posture was of someone who was preparing to fire a weapon.
“I’m as convinced today as I was on the day that Azelle Rodney had a gun in his hands.
“It was nothing to do with the fact I couldn’t see his hands, it was everything about his body language that he had picked up a firearm and was prepared to use it.
“It led me to believe I had no choice but to open fire.”
E7 gave no verbal warning before opening fire, because he said there was not enough time.
“I wasn’t alongside that vehicle long enough,” he told the inquiry. “I couldn’t have got the words out of my mouth quick enough. I just didn’t think that it was practicable to give an oral warning.”
Mr Rodney was shot six times, and the officer said he thought the rounds were having “no effect whatsoever”.
He said: “These things happen very quickly. My impression was that my rounds had no effect on him whatsoever. This isn’t like Hollywood - when people get shot when their adrenaline’s up they don’t even know they’ve been shot.
“I saw nothing that implied that he was no longer a threat to my colleagues.”
E7 had to stop a number of times to compose himself as he gave his account. It emerged earlier today that he had shot two other people dead during his career.
The hearing was told that during an incident in the 1980s E7 shot two men and injured another two.
Inquests into the men’s deaths later found that they had been lawfully killed, and the officer received a commendation from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his conduct. The two injured men were later tried and jailed.
On the day that Mr Rodney was killed, E7 said he was concerned that the three men in the car might have a sub machine gun.
He said police feared that the gang had “a fairly compact weapon that could fire in excess of 1,000 rounds a minute, that’s 18 rounds per second.”
An inquiry is being held into Mr Rodney’s death instead of an inquest because of secret information that would have to be withheld from a coroner.
Members of the press and public were banned from the court room - which is in a High Court building in the City of London - as the officer gave evidence, listening to audio feed from a separate room.
There were shouts of “liar” from observers in the annexe as E7 gave his account.
Protesters also stood outside the building accusing the police of being “murderers” and claiming there had been a “cover-up”.
The inquiry continues.