London

Azelle Rodney death: PC fired eight shots in quick succession

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Media captionThe jury was shown video footage where bullets can be heard, as June Kelly reports

A former Met Police officer fired eight short-range shots in just over two seconds at a gang member inside a car he had stopped, a court heard.

Firearms specialist PC Anthony Long did not act "lawfully when he opened fire" on Azelle Rodney, 24, in north London in April 2005, the Old Bailey was told.

Mr Long, 58 and from Surrey, denies the murder of Mr Rodney, who was hit by six of the shots and fatally injured.

Mr Long suspected the gang was en-route to an armed robbery, the jury heard.

Shooting filmed

Opening the case, prosecutor Max Hill QC said analysis of the shooting pieced together from footage of the operation - which was being filmed for training purposes -showed Mr Long opened fire six hundredths of a second after his vehicle pulled alongside the car Mr Rodney was in.

He told the jury the officer opened fire so quickly "he cannot have taken any time to observe anything happening" inside the suspects' car.

"The majority of those shots caused fatal injuries to Azelle Rodney, culminating in the final two shots which were fired into the top of Azelle Rodney's head," he said.

Armed officers had been authorised to use special tactics to arrest a gang they believed was on its way to commit an armed robbery on the evening of 30 April, the court heard.

Three police cars pursued and surrounded the VW Golf containing Mr Rodney and two other suspects, Wesley Lovell and Frank Graham.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The retired police officer had 30 years' experience of handling firearms when he shot Mr Rodney

Mr Long fired rapidly from the open window of an unmarked police car at the suspects' car when it came to a halt in Hale Lane, Mill Hill during the "hard stop".

Jurors were shown the video, filmed from police car behind Mr Long's vehicle, and heard an unidentified man, who was not PC Long, saying "Sweet as... sweet as... sweet as" as the shots were fired.

'Onerous duties'

"The prosecution say that it was not necessary for Mr Long to open fire upon the Golf and Azelle Rodney," said Mr Hill.

"Therefore, we say, Mr Long was not acting lawfully when he opened fire.

"Mr Long's actions in deliberately killing Azelle Rodney, when it was not necessary to do so, make Mr Long guilty of murder," he said.

The prosecutor said he did not wish to "belittle the onerous duties" carried out by specialist firearms officers like Mr Long and his team, but that with those duties came "onerous responsibilities."

Mr Long, from Leatherhead, joined the police in 1975 and had 30 years' experience of handling weapons when he shot Mr Rodney, the jury heard.

Mr Hill said it was "imperative that firearms officers behaved professionally at all times and only took the extreme step of opening fire in public when absolutely necessary".

Mr Long who is now retired, was using a short-barrelled semi-automatic rifle and would have had to manually pull the trigger to fire a shot, the court heard.

The trial continues.

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