Armed police officer charged with murder over Azelle Rodney shooting

 

A decorated former Scotland Yard marksman involved in a botched armed operation against a drugs gang was charged yesterday with murdering one of the suspects.

Known only as E7, he is just the third officer in the last two decades to be charged with murdering a suspect in the line of duty.

The officer was charged after a public inquiry found last year that the decision to fire two fatal bursts of gunfire at Azelle Rodney nine years ago was irrational and without “lawful justification”.

Mr Rodney, 24, was killed after undercover police teams rammed a car carrying him and two others who were believed to be on their way to rob a group of Colombian drug dealers of a stash of cocaine. The officer had been due to provide cover for his colleagues during the operation and told the inquiry that he believed Mr Rodney had picked up a gun and was about to use it.

The prosecution comes eight years after the Crown Prosecution Service had previously declined to charge the officer after an investigation by a watchdog which found nothing to criticise in the police operation.

“I am very pleased at the CPS’s decision to prosecute the officer who killed my son,” said the dead man’s mother Susan Alexander. “I have waited a long time to see this day and hope this prosecution will lead to justice for Azelle.”

Suspects of crime are normally named when they are charged but the now-retired officer was given anonymity before he gave evidence at the 11-week inquiry into the fatal shooting. The inquiry heard that the officer had lawfully previously shot four people, including two fatally, during the 1980s and had been commended for bravery for his role in arresting an armed man.

The head of the inquiry, Sir Christopher Holland, found that E7 had changed his story and there was little or no justification for seven of the eight shots that he fired within two seconds.

“I have to find that there was no lawful justification of shooting Azelle Rodney so as to kill him,” the report said. In relation to the four fatal shots, Sir Christopher concluded: “I am wholly satisfied that firing so as to kill him … was disproportionate and therefore unreasonable and unlawful.”

Backed by Scotland Yard and the Police Federation, the officer went to court to challenge the finding that the shooting had been “irrational” but lost his case. The Federation indicated it would continue to pay the officer’s legal expenses when the case went to court. The former officer declined to comment through his solicitor.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “We have carefully considered the new file of evidence submitted to us and have decided that a former Metropolitan Police officer, currently identified only as E7, will be prosecuted for murder. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.”

The family said that it was disappointed that prosecutors did not support a prosecution against the force because of failures over the planning and oversight of the operation on April 30, 2005.

Sir Christopher reported there had been a “systemic failure of communication” between the firearms team and senior officers running the operation, and opportunities were missed to arrest Mr Rodney before his car was stopped outside a packed pub in north London. “Due to the active legal proceedings against E7, we are unable to provide further reasoning for our decisions at this stage,” said the CPS.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015