London

Azelle Rodney death: 'No justification' for police shooting

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Media captionAzelle Rodney's mother Susan Alexander: "It seemed to me Azelle was executed"

Police had no lawful justification for shooting dead a man in London eight years ago, a public inquiry has found.

Azelle Rodney, 24, was shot six times in Edgware after the car he was in was stopped by Met Police officers in 2005.

An officer known as E7, who said he opened fire because he believed Mr Rodney had picked up a gun, could now face criminal charges.

Mr Rodney's mother, Susan Alexander, has demanded an apology from the Met for his "execution".

Former High Court judge Sir Christopher Holland has released his findings following the public inquiry into the death.

He said E7 "could not rationally have believed" Mr Rodney had picked up a firearm.

Ms Alexander said she believed none of the eight shots fired at her son were "lawfully discharged by the officer concerned".

'Career criminal'

"When I gave evidence to the inquiry on September 4 2012, I said that it seemed to me that Azelle was executed," said Ms Alexander

"The chairman's report, after detailed study of the evidence, is that he is sure and satisfied he shares my view.

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Media captionSolicitor Daniel Machover said the police had "violated the right to life of someone"

"The fact that he was strongly suspected in being involved in crime does not justify him or anyone else being summarily killed.

"The police owe me an apology for the unlawful killing of my son. I await an apology from the commissioner himself."

Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had referred the case against E7 to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

"I have read the findings carefully and want to express my personal sympathy to Mr Rodney's family," Mr Hogan-Howe said.

"The Met Police Service deeply regrets his death, and I recognise how distressing the inquiry must have been for them."

'Naked, violent aggression'

Mr Rodney, who was described in the report as a "mid-level career criminal", was killed when the VW Golf he was in was stopped by police who had it under surveillance for several hours.

E7 told the inquiry he opened fire after fearing the gang had a sub-machine gun in the car.

Three guns were found in the Golf - a Colt .45 calibre pistol, a Baikal pistol and a smaller gun described as looking like a key fob.

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Media captionAzelle Rodney, 24, was shot six times in Edgware after the car he was in was stopped by police officers in 2005

Lawyers for Ms Alexander claimed he was the victim of "naked, violent aggression" and was unlawfully killed.

During the inquiry, Sir Christopher considered issues including what information the police team had, how reliable it was, whether their approach minimised the risk to life, and if stopping the car was done with only necessary force.

He said: "There was no lawful justification for shooting Azelle Rodney so as to kill him."

He added: "E7's accounts of what he saw are not to be accepted.

"Prior to firing he did not believe that the man who turned out to be Azelle Rodney had picked up a gun and was about to use it."

'Woolwich challenges'

E7 has written to the inquiry, claiming the findings against him are "irrational".

Mr Hogan-Howe said firearms officers faced "serious challenges".

He said he was anxious the report did not "undermine the confidence of officers to act decisively when making split-second decisions in the face of the most dangerous criminals as recently seen in Woolwich".

Mrs Alexander's lawyer, Daniel Machover criticised the IPCC for its initial findings about the shooting.

"Not only is it shocking that the IPCC's investigation found nothing to criticise as regards the shooting itself, but it found the whole operation virtually faultless, whereas this inquiry has found the whole operation deeply flawed," he said.

Deborah Glass, IPCC deputy chair, said: "We welcome the fact that Azelle Rodney's family have finally seen and heard the evidence in this case as a result of this public inquiry.

"We understand their anger and frustration about how long this has all taken."

The inquiry, which started in September, was held instead of an inquest because of sensitive intelligence information that would have to be withheld from a coroner.

The other two people in the vehicle, Frank Graham and Wesley Lovell, were jailed for possession of firearms.

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