Socialist Worker

Cops slammed over Azelle Rodney shooting

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2361

Azelle Rodneys mother Susan Alexander at a press conference last week

Azelle Rodney's mother Susan Alexander at a press conference last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The police officer who shot Azelle Rodney could face prosecution after a damning report from the official inquiry into the killing was released last week.  

Azelle died after an officer, known as “E7” throughout the inquiry, shot him six times in under two seconds in 2005.

Retired high court judge Sir Christopher Holland produced the report into Azelle’s death. It said that there was no “lawful” justification for shooting to kill.

Azelle’s mother Susan Alexander said after the report’s release, “Azelle’s death was wholly avoidable. 

“I shouldn’t be sitting here now, beginning another chapter in my fight for justice for him.”

Azelle was shot in Edgware, north London, in April 2005. Armed police had performed a “hard stop” on the car he and two other men were travelling in.

Unmarked police cars followed the men after officers claimed to have received information that they were going to rob Colombian drug dealers at gunpoint.

The inquiry into Azelle’s killing ended last year.

E7 claimed that he shot Azelle, who was in the back seat, after he saw him reaching for a gun.

However the report rejected E7’s version of events outright. 

Rejected

It concluded that the officer had a “very restricted” view of Azelle and would not have known whether he had reached for a weapon.

Holland said that the officer’s account of what he saw was “not to be accepted”. He said the officer “could not rationally have believed” that Azelle had reached for a weapon.

The report confirmed that Azelle was unarmed.

It also states that even if E7 had a sufficient view of Azelle, he did not pose a sufficient threat to warrant being shot.

Eight shots were fired at Azelle in total. Six were direct hits and the final three to his head proved fatal.

The report said that even if E7 believed Azelle was armed “there would have been no basis for firing the fatal fifth to eight shots”.

Evidence given to the inquiry suggest that several bullets hit Azelle as he was falling down.

This contradicts E7’s claim that he continued to fire because Azelle remained upright and posed a threat.

Holland said that E7 “saw Azelle Rodney collapsing before he fired these shots”.

He added, “I do not accept his account that he fired these shots because he saw Azelle Rodney upright and apparently not affected by the earlier shots”.

He said the later shots were aimed at “a dead or dying man. 

“Obviously there is no justification.”

Prosecution

E7 may now face prosecution. But his lawyers dispute the report and may seek a judicial review.

Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Met, offered “sympathy” over Azelle’s death.

But Susan has demanded an unreserved apology from the Metropolitan Police and immediate action to be taken by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

At the inquiry last year, she said that her son’s death was an execution. 

Susan said, “I have lost too many years of my life already in trying to get justice, truth and accountability. 

“It has taken me over eight years to get to this point.”

The IPCC’s record does not bode well for further investigating this case. 

It initially found the conduct of the police to be virtually faultless.

It also failed to release aerial surveillance footage of the incident which could have shed light on Azelle’s killing, because it was “marginal”.

 


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