Socialist Worker

Decision to prosecute Azelle Rodney officer creates a crisis for the Met - and raises more questions

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2414

Azelle Rodneys mother Susan Alexander at a press conference following a report into his death last year

Azelle Rodney's mother Susan Alexander at a press conference following a report into his death last year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A firearms officer will be prosecuted for the murder of Azelle Rodney. The announcement is a huge blow for the Metropolitan Police.

The officer, only known as E7, shot Azelle in Edgware, north London, on 30 April 2005.

The decision to charge the officer came after an inquiry into Azelle’s death was produced last year.

Retired high court judge Sir Christopher Holland carried out the report which slammed the cops and found no “lawful” justification for shooting to kill.

It also found serious failures by the Met’s planning and control of the pre-planned armed operation.

Azelle was shot after armed police performed a “hard stop” on the car he and two other men were travelling in.

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

E7 began shooting before his car properly came to a halt, and before he had a clear view of Azelle.

Azelle sustained injuries to his right upper arm, back, right ear, top of his skull and the right side of his chest.

Slumped

He was shot first in his arm and sustained the subsequent injuries as he collapsed and became slumped in the back seat of the car.

E7 fired eight rounds at the car, six of which struck Azelle in under two seconds.

Hollande’s report said that, had the shooting stopped after the injury to Azelle’s arm, he would have lived.

The type of Heckler and Koch rifle used by E7 fires repetitively, but not automatically.

E7 said he kept shooting because he felt that Azelle continued to pose a threat. Holland said the shots were aimed at “a dead or dying man”.

The fact that a murder charge is going ahead raises serious questions about the initial conclusions of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

In 2005 the IPCC rejected complaints made against the police by Azelle’s family – saying it found no fault on the part of the Met or its officers.

The Crown Prosecution Service then decided not to prosecute E7 for murder or manslaughter. It also decided not to prosecute the Met for manslaughter or gross negligence.

Now, nine years after Azelle’s death, someone will face prosecution for his death. But no charges will be brought against the head of the Met, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

This is despite Holland’s report finding serious flaws in the armed operation.

Azelle’s mother Susan Alexander said, “We deserve an immediate and unreserved apology for those failures.”


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