24-year-old Rodney was shot dead by a Metropolitan Police Officer on April 30, 2005. Rodney was the rear passenger in an acquaintance’s car and was unarmed.
“After the Metropolitan Police had brought the vehicle to a halt, a firearms officer, described as ‘E7’ in the inquiry’s report, shot Mr Rodney 6 times without warning with a Heckler & Koch assault rifle. The fifth and sixth of these shots were a military-style ‘double tap’ to Mr Rodney’s head and would have been fatal. E7 then briefly paused before shooting Mr Rodney a further two times in the head. These shots would also have been fatal.”
The inquiry was held in order to satisfy the UK’s obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life. The inquiry’s report was clear that the factors surrounding the case and the pressure the police were under did not justify the killing of Mr Rodney, who did nothing to cause the officer involved, E7, to rationally believe that he was about to use a gun.
Just some of the failures that the report highlights, after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (“IPCC”) found no significant fault on the part of the police and rejected all complaints against the police:
- Firearms officers failed to wear caps identifying themselves as police officers.
- There was a failure to debrief the firearms officers to see what, if anything, had gone wrong or whether there were lessons to be learned.
- No single officer of sufficient seniority and common sense was put in charge of managing the scene of the incident, which meant that Mr Rodney’s body was left where it lay, after being pulled out onto the pavement, for more than 16 hours; his blood had not been fully cleaned away by the time his family attended the scene.
The situation was first investigated by the IPCC who issued a statement saying they re-referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider whether any criminal charges should be brought. The IPCC carried out an investigation into Mr Rodney’s death in 2005, in which the officer who fired the fatal shots, ‘E7’, was criminally interviewed for the offences of murder and manslaughter. In January 2006 the IPCC provided the CPS with a file of evidence in relation to the investigation. The CPS subsequently decided there was insufficient evidence to mount a criminal prosecution.
According to the ICCP, the Azelle Rodney Inquiry has had the benefit of a great deal of evidence that was not available to the IPCC or CPS, including lengthy cross-examination of E7, who had declined under caution to answer the IPCC’s questions, and further forensic and technical work we had been advised in 2005 was not possible.
The IPCC also wrote to the MPS on Monday 1 July asking the force to consider both the contents of the Inquiry Report and the evidence heard to determine whether either indicate that any person currently serving with the MPS, or retired, may have committed a criminal offence or behaved in a manner which would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.
The MPS has now confirmed that it has done so and advised in its view that there is no such indication that would justify criminal or disciplinary action.
The IPCC is in the process of reviewing the way it investigates all deaths, and will be drawing on the experience of this and many other cases within that process.
See the full article on the UK Human Rights Blog by Sarabjit Singh.