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Monday, 17 December 2012

Unlawful killing conclusion urged in Azelle Rodney shooting

Evening Standard

Inquiry: a Police forensics team searching outside The Railway Tavern at the scene where armed Police shot Azelle Rodney dead in Edgware

17 December 2012

A retired High Court judge has been urged to conclude that Azelle Rodney was unlawfully killed as a long-running inquiry into his shooting drew to a close.

Leslie Thomas, for Susan Alexander, mother of Mr Rodney, claimed he had been the victim of "naked, violent aggression" on the part of the police officer, named only as E7, who shot him dead when the car in which he was travelling was stopped in Edgware, north London, in April 2005.

"This was naked, violent aggression on the part of this officer. He used extreme violence against Azelle Rodney and took his life," Mr Thomas said in a closing speech to the inquiry.

Addressing Sir Christopher Holland, chairman of the inquiry, Mr Thomas said the circumstances of Mr Rodney's death were unlawful and there had been "certainly" no need to shoot at him eight times, including four times in the head.

"There was no lawful reason to deprive Azelle Rodney of his right to life on April 30, he should be here today," he said.

The inquiry has heard that the police team believed 24-year-old Mr Rodney was part of an armed gang who were on their way to rob Colombian drug dealers.

Anne Studd, QC, for the Metropolitan Police, warned against using the benefit of hindsight against police officers she said were making "difficult split-second dynamic decisions" in fast moving situations.

"Police were in a position where in order to comply with their duties to protect life, they were authorised to deploy with a firearms team to seek to apprehend a group that intelligence suggested were arming themselves with automatic weapons in order to achieve an unlawful and violent end," she said.

Samantha Leek, QC, for E7, highlighted her client's "distinguished" record as a firearms officer.

"There was reliable evidence to suggest that they (the men in the car) were in possession of fully automatic firearms, that they were prepared to use them and that they were already in the area where the planned robbery was to take place," she said.

The 11-week inquiry concluded today. Sir Christopher is expected to publish his findings in spring next year.

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