A POLICE marksman had “no lawful justification” for shooting dead a 24-year-old robbery suspect, and no reason to believe that he had picked up a weapon, a damning report has found.
Azelle Rodney was travelling in a VW Golf car with two other men, when it was stopped by armed police in Edgware, north London, in 2005.
The officers feared the trio were on their way to stage an armed heist on Colombian drug dealers and had an automatic weapon capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute.
Mr Rodney was shot six times, once each in the arm and back, and, fatally, four times in the head.
His mother Susan Alexander said her son was executed and demanded an apology from Scotland Yard.
Former High Court judge Sir Christopher Holland’s findings raised the possibility of the officer, known as E7, facing criminal charges.
He said: “There was no lawful justification for shooting Azelle Rodney so as to kill him.
“Granted that E7 had an honest belief that Azelle Rodney posed a threat to himself or to other officers; this threat was then not such as to make it reasonably necessary to shoot at him.”
Mr Rodney could have survived the first two shots, to his arm and back, but not the four to his head.
The summary of the reportstated: “The report asks whether E7 believed, for good reason, that Azelle Rodney presented a threat to his life or that of his colleagues such that it was proportionate to open fire on him with a lethal weapon. The answer is that he did not.
“The report then poses an alternative question. That is framed on the basis of UK criminal law and assumes that, contrary to the chairman’s actual findings, E7 believed that Azelle Rodney had picked up an automatic weapon. Would it have been proportionate to fire the shots that killed Azelle Rodney? The answer would be no.”
E7 told the inquiry that he had seen Mr Rodney start moving around, reaching down and then coming back up with his shoulders hunched.
Sir Christopher’s report dismissed this account, which was also contradicted by eyewitnesses. It said: “E7’s accounts of what he saw are not to be accepted.”
The officer has written to the inquiry to claim that the findings against him are “irrational”.
Three guns were found in the Golf – a Colt .45 calibre pistol, a Baikal pistol and a smaller gun that looked like a key fob. The Colt was not loaded, the Baikal was loaded, not cocked and the safety catch was on, and the key fob gun was loaded, cocked and the safety catch was off.
During the 11-week public inquiry, it emerged that E7 had previously shot two men dead during an incident in the 1980s, and injured another two.
Inquests into the men’s deaths found that they had been lawfully killed, and the officer received a commendation for his conduct. The two injured men were tried and jailed.
Sir Christopher found that the operation that led to Mr Rodney’s death was not run in a way that would minimise the threat to life.
“Operation Tayport was not planned and controlled so as to minimise, to the greatest extent possible, recourse to lethal force; and that force used by E7 was not strictly proportionate to the aim of protecting persons against unlawful violence.”
Sir Christopher recommended Scotland Yard nominated a senior officer to carry out a review of the operation.