Crime & the Law

Police marksman who shot dead suspected armed robber Azelle Rodney has been found not guilty by an Old Bailey jury

Still from police surveillance video released to public inquiry and shown as evidence during trial. Image: Met Police

Still from police surveillance video released to public inquiry and shown as evidence during trial. Image: Met Police

The experienced police marksman who shot suspected armed robber Azelle Rodney six times at short range has been acquitted of murder at the Old Bailey.

This is the culmination of 10 years of controversy surrounding the killing.

It was alleged 58 year old Anthony Long took just six hundredths of a second to open fire on the 24-year-old from his unmarked police car.

It was part of a stop operation to foil an attempted robbery on Colombian drug dealers.

The trial heard he fired off eight shots in 2.1 seconds, six of which fatally injured Mr Rodney who was the back seat passenger of a Volkswagen Golf that had been boxed in.

Police had been applying what they called a ‘hard stop’ by armed police in Hale Lane, Mill Hill, north London.

The prosecution argued that in making the split-second decision to open fire with his police-issue Heckler and Koch G36C Carbine, Mr Long would not have had time to see whether Mr Rodney was doing anything that might pose a risk to the public and police.

The court heard that Mr Long’s gun was a short-barrelled semi-automatic rifle and therefore the trigger had to be pulled for each shot fired.

The retired officer was commended seven times during a distinguished 33-year career with the force.

He denied murder and maintained that he believed his colleagues were in ‘imminent’ danger.

He told jurors: ‘I was absolutely convinced that he’d ducked down, picked up a firearm, that he posed an imminent threat to my colleagues.’

At the time, police intelligence had suggested that Rodney and the two other occupants of the car, were armed with at least one deadly machine gun.

They were suspected of preparing to strike the Colombians in Edgware, north London on the evening of Saturday, 30th April 2005.

A search of the car later revealed that although there were three weapons, none were automatic and only one was loaded.

The jury was not told the outcome of a judge-led inquiry in 2013 which concluded that the shooting was not legally justified and Mr Long’s accounts of what he saw in the seconds before opening fire should not be accepted.

Details of Mr Long’s operational history, which included an incident in which he shot two other suspects dead, were not divulged in evidence either.

The jury deliberated for 12 hours and nine minutes before finding Mr Long not guilty of murder.

In a statement after the verdict Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, in charge of Specialist Crime and Operations, said:

Police officers are not exempt from the law, and would not wish to be. However, standing trial for murder will have been a very stressful and difficult time for Tony Long, a police officer for over 30 years. The impact that this will have had upon him, and his family, should not be underestimated.

This must also have been a difficult time for Mr Rodney’s family. The MPS regrets Mr Rodney’s death, and we express our full sympathy to his family.

No police officer sets out to take part in an operation that results in taking someone’s life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s