The Azelle Rodney inquiry and Article 2

Leslie Thomas considers the recent Azelle Rodney inquiry and the impact on matters relating to Article 2.

The full inquiry report into Azelle Rodney’s death has been released and is available to download here. Sir Christopher Holland essentially finds that Azelle’s death was in violation of Article 2 (poor planning and preparation McCann v UK) and unlawful by ordinary domestic law of homicide principles.

If you are involved in any matter concerning the application of Article 2 and how that interrelates with domestic law homicide, a police shooting case or a public inquiry it is an interesting and important read.

The report covers Article 2 planning and control situations and risk and threat assessments for firearms operations:

  • The proper implementation of plans
  • The roles of Gold, Silver and Bronze commanders and whether it is appropriate for them to ‘double hat’ (have dual roles e.g. the Bronze commander was the tactical advisor to Silver as well as being Bronze)
  • Honest belief in the context of murder
  • Reasonable force (the discharge of a number of shots)

The relevant sections in the report are chronology (section 3), Hale Lane where the shooting takes place outside a pub (section 15), local impact, members of the public who were at risk (section 18), the shooting (section 21) and the threat and risk assessment (section 24).

In the report Sir Christopher makes the following findings:

  • “I similarly have to find that there was no lawful justification for shooting so as to kill.” (Section 21.13)
  • “Azelle Rodney was not engaged in any attack justifying shooting at sight. Shooting at him could only be justified as a reasonably necessary response to the threat on the basis of observed actual conduct indicative of imminent armed response…There was no such observed actual conduct.” (Section 21.2)

Further, he found that there was no legal basis provided by criminal law to justify the action of the officer.

  • He found E7 ‘overreact[ed]’ when he shot Azelle Rodney (section 24.42)
  • “I am wholly satisfied that firing so as to kill him (shots 5, 6, 7 and 8) was disproportionate and therefore unreasonable and unlawful. There was little justification for shots, 2, 3 and 4 and no justification for the ensuing shots.” (Section 21.13)
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