Azelle Rodney inquiry: Firearms officer had killed before

Azelle Rodney, 24, was shot six times in Edgware, north-west London in 2005

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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.

Armed police claimed they feared the occupants were armed with a sub-machine gun to rob a Colombian drugs gang.

Mr Rodney's mother Susan Alexander walked out of the hearing after accusing the police of lying.

Commissioner's commendation

The inquiry heard that as police surrounded Mr Rodney's vehicle, a specialist firearms officer, identified only as E7, opened fire on him.

He said he was "convinced" that Mr Rodney had had a gun in his hands.

Ms Alexander interrupted his evidence and asked him: "How many more lies are you going to tell?"

The inquiry also heard that E7 had shot dead two men and injured a further two during an incident in the 1980s.

Police forensics team searching outside The Railway Tavern in Edgware Mr Rodney was sitting in the back of the car when police opened fire

Inquests into the men's deaths later found they had been lawfully killed and the officer received a commendation from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his conduct.

The two injured men were later tried and jailed.

E7 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.

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 [Mr Rodney's] 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.

"It led me to believe I had no choice but to open fire."

E7 gave no verbal warning before opening fire, because he said there had not been enough time.

'Threat to colleagues'

The officer 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.

"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.

Leslie Thomas, counsel for Mrs Alexander, asked E7 how he could have shot five people during his career, three of them fatally.

He accused the officer of being trigger happy, even though the two earlier deaths were later found to be lawful killings.

Police did not find a machine gun in the car, however the occupants had been carrying other firearms.

The other two people in the vehicle, Frank Graham and Wesley Lovell, were subsequently jailed for possession of firearms.

Mr Thomas suggested that E7 and colleagues had "planted" evidence by moving one weapon closer to the dead man.

"That's outrageous," said E7. "That's insulting."

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.

The hearing, which began on 3 September, continues.

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