Azelle Rodney inquiry: Firearms officer had killed before

A police officer who killed a man in north-west London seven years ago had shot two other people dead earlier in his career, an inquiry has heard.  Azelle Rodney, 24, was shot six times in Edgware after the car he was in was stopped on 30 April 2005.

Now the officers are giving evidence at an inquiry that began on September 3rd.  The experienced firearms officer is being questioned relating to this incident, and he was and still is convinced that Rodney had a gun.

The officer was also involved in a firearms incident where two men were shot by officers in the 1980’s. Inquests into the mens deaths later found they had been lawfully killed and the officer received a commendation from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his conduct.

The officer said that on the day he had opened fire on Mr Rodney, he had seen him looking left and right and ducking down in the back seat of the car and the officer opened fire less than a second after pulling up beside the car, which had been under surveillance for several hours.

He said: “His posture was of someone who was preparing to fire a weapon. I’m as convinced today as I was on the day that Azelle Rodney had a gun in his hands. It was nothing to do with the fact I couldn’t see his hands, it was everything about his body language that he had picked up a firearm and was prepared to use it.” he then went on to say  “It led me to believe I had no choice but to open fire.”

The officer gave no verbal warning before opening fire, because he said there had not been enough time. and said he had shot Mr Rodney six times because he had thought the rounds were having no effect.

He said: “These things happen very quickly. My impression was that my rounds had no effect on him whatsoever and I saw nothing that implied that he was no longer a threat to my colleagues.”

He said they believed the men had had a sub-machine gun that could fire in excess of 1,000 rounds a minute.

After Mr Rodney was shot, detectives found three guns in the car and the other two people in the vehicle, Frank Graham and Wesley Lovell, were subsequently jailed for possession of firearms.

An inquiry is being held into Mr Rodney’s death instead of an inquest because of sensitive intelligence information that would have to be withheld from a coroner.

So the officer has killed before – in the 1980’s – and received a commendation.  He is clearly an officer who has years of experience and during his career has had to use deadly force.  Is that not his job?  He does his regular training, he received a commendation before for his efforts in protecting the public and the innocent so now why is this being questioned – is it relevant?

Part of a firearms officers role is to keep calm, assess a situation very quickly, and in the inquest, it has been proven that firearms were seized from the vehicle and the other two males were found guilty and jailed, so why do not people understand this?

I can understand that the male who lost his life are going to be angry and will never get over the death of Rodney, but if anyone has a firearm and they are perceived to be preparing to use it, or do use it, then safety of officers and the public is adamant isn’t it?  If you honestly believe that someone is in possession of a firearm capable of 1000 a minute, and you believe that they have it in their hands just about to use it then what choice do you have?

I cannot think that officers in countries who carry firearms as standard issue would have to go through this  – as it happens more regular, however, because it doesn’t, officers are putting themselves in the spotlight – and for what?

Having spoken with firearms officers, they are getting jaded because they are having to justify their existence, and they are training hard, working to the best of their abilities, but not getting the recognition of just what *could* happen, and what risk they put themselves in to for the sake of keeping the public and other officers safe.

I know the argument is that if they don’t want to put themselves in that position then they shouldn’t do it, however, I admire those that are willing to go that extra mile, keep up the training, fitness and put themselves in life threatening situations, and without them we wouldn’t have that extra protection.

It is rare that persons get shot by firearms officers, but when it does happen they are having to re justify their existence.  I would like to thank firearms officers in this country for putting others before themselves.

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