There was “no legal justification” for a police marksman shooting dead 24-year-old robbery suspect Azelle Rodney, according to the findings of an official inquiry.
An unprecedented public inquiry rejected the accounts from the officer who fired the fatal shots which killed Azelle Rodney as he sat seat-belted in the back of a car.
The report by former judge Sir Christopher Holland is also highly critical of the Metropolitan police’s operation, saying it was not planned and controlled to minimise recourse to lethal force.
The conclusion follows an eight-year battle for justice by Azelle Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander.
The shooting took place in north London in April 2005 after police had acted on intelligence that three men were to rob some Colombians of cocaine and then possibly kill them. The suspects were tailed and subjected to a “hard stop” in Mill Hill.
The officer known as E7 fired eight shots in two seconds into the car, claiming he thought Mr Rodney was reaching for what may have been a sub-machine gun.
The inquiry found E7’s accounts were not to be accepted and that Mr Rodney had not made such movements, and so E7 had no reason to believe he was about to pick up a gun.
The report also severely criticises the officer for the number of shots he fired, suggesting he was trigger happy.
“…had the shooting ended before or after two shots, Azelle Rodney would have lived. Had it ended after the next two shots, he would have lived, assuming prompt medical attention.
“With the next two shots he dies. With the last two shots death is confirmed. The less justified the shooting becomes, the more lethal it proves to be”.
The inquiry chair also concluded: “I am wholly satisfied that firing so as to kill him was disproportionate and therefore unreasonable and unlawful.”
Channel 4 News understands E7 is threatening to take the inquiry to court, arguing the findings against him are irrational.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is to send a report to the Crown Prosecution Service on the recommendation that E7, now retired, should be prosecuted.
The IPCC had previously found the shooting was justified and that E7 was not at fault. The CPS refused to bring charges at the time.
Sir Christopher’s report also recommends the Metropolitan police carries out a full review of all aspects of this operation.