3rd July 2015

Azelle Rodney was shot dead while seated in the back seat of a car, during a police hard stop in North London in April 2005.   The court heard that Anthony Long shot eight times while no more than two metres from Mr. Rodney, shooting him in the right arm, back, twice around his right ear, and twice into the top of his head. He said the reason he shot Mr Rodney was because he believed  that Mr Rodney was reaching for, and preparing to fire, a machine gun. This was after Mr Long saw movements from Mr Rodney as his unmarked police car came alongside the Golf car Mr Rodney was seated in. However, the prosecution claimed during the trial that such movements could not have happened in the very short space of time (0.2 of second at most) that the police car was alongside the Golf before Mr Long opened fire.

This trial followed the Public Inquiry, which took place in 2012 and reported its findings in July 2013 (over 8 years after the death), in which the Chairman said that he was ‘sure and satisfied’ that there was no lawful justification for the fatal shooting of Azelle Rodney.

Susan Alexander, Azelle Rodney’s mother said:

“Almost exactly two years ago, I welcomed the thorough and excellent Pubic Inquiry report of Sir Christopher Holland published on 5 July 2013. I said then that I hoped the report would be ground-breaking and cause a shift in thinking by the police. I fear there are too few signs of any such shift and that this verdict today may be misinterpreted by officers of all ranks, and hold up needed reforms. I am still unclear on whether the police fully accept the recommendations made two years ago and that similar deaths in the future have been made less likely.

I also said in July 2013 that Azelle’s death was wholly avoidable. I repeat that his death was wholly avoidable, but I of course accept that the jury has spoken, albeit there didn’t seem to me to be very much of the prosecution’s case in the judge’s summing up and legal directions. This prosecution was completely justified. Clearly, Mr Long had a case to answer, but now that the jury has done its job my family and I have to draw a painful line under the last 10 years; I need some time to myself to grieve properly for the loss of my 24 year old son.

I said two years ago, and repeat now, that I do not seek to justify what Azelle was doing on the day he died. But he was entitled to be apprehended, and - if there was evidence - to be charged and brought before a court of law to face a trial before a jury, but not to die at the hands of the police. We do not have the death penalty in this country.

I still seek an unreserved apology from the police and IPCC. The police owe me an apology for the avoidable killing of my son, including the way tactics were decided on 30 April 2005.

The IPCC still owe me an apology for the wholly inadequate investigation in 2005. A better investigation may have resulted in a trial nine years ago – I can never get those years back – the IPCC must stop failing families in this way.

Having said that, I thank those at the IPCC who worked on this case with commitment from 2013 onwards and those at the CPS who during the same period made considerable efforts to prepare the case for trial – and I particularly thank the barristers who prosecuted the case with courage and determination, Max Hill QC and Alison Morgan."

Daniel Machover, the family solicitor said:

"This verdict does not change the outcome of the Inquiry, which found that the fatal shooting violated the right to life of Azelle Rodney.

The CPS and the legal team that prosecuted this case has demonstrated that the criminal justice system applies to all those suspected of crime, including police officers, and the verdict should not be taken as a sign that such prosecutions are wrong or in any way inappropriate – the evidence should determine charging decisions according to the Code for Crown Prosecutors and, if justified, the jury should then be given the opportunity to hear and give their verdict."

Helen Shaw, Co-Director of INQUEST said:

“The experience of Susan Alexander in trying to find out exactly why her son was shot dead by Metropolitan Police in 2005 has exemplified all that is wrong about the way deaths involving police use of force are investigated. A democratic society needs a criminal justice system that ensures scrutiny and accountability of the police and ensures that timely prosecutions are brought in appropriate cases.”

Notes to editors

There has never been a successful prosecution for manslaughter or murder in any case in the UK, even where an inquest jury has returned a finding of ‘unlawful killing’. Since 1990 there have been 995 deaths in police custody or following police contact and 55 fatal shootings by police officers. Whilst the number of deaths involving the use of force by the police is a small proportion of the total number of deaths in custody, these deaths have often been the most controversial. (See INQUEST’s website for background and comment on police shootings and further information)

Since 1990, there have been 9 unlawful killing verdicts/findings returned by juries at inquests into deaths involving the police and 1 unlawful killing finding recorded by a public enquiry none of which has yet resulted in a successful prosecution.

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Daniel Machover  and Helen Stone from Hickman and Rose solicitors, and barristers Leslie Thomas QC, of Garden Court Chambers, and Adam Straw of Doughty Street Chambers