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  1. ITV Report

Azelle Rodney: Police marksman found not guilty of murdering suspected armed robber

A police marksman who shot dead suspected armed robber Azelle Rodney has been cleared of his murder.

Anthony Long shot the 24-year-old after his unmarked police car pulled up as part of an operation to foil an attempted robbery on Colombian drug dealers in London in April 2005.

Azelle Rodney died in London in 2005. Credit: Police

Mr Rodney - who was in the back seat of a Volkswagen Golf - was shot six times during the "hard stop" by armed police in Hale Lane, Mill Hill, north London.

The prosecution said Mr Long would not have had enough time to see whether Mr Rodney was doing anything that might pose a risk to the public and police, allegedly taking just six hundredths of a second to open fire.

Long, who had a 33-year career in the police, denied murder, insisting he believed his colleagues were in "imminent" danger.

Police intelligence had suggested that Rodney and the two other people in the car were armed with at least one deadly machine gun, as they prepared to strike the Colombian gang in Edgware, north London.

However, search of the car afterwards turned up three non-automatic weapons, only one of which was loaded.

Detailed analysis of the shooting was pieced together thanks to a video recorded on a hand-held camera by one of the other officers present, filmed for training purposes.

The jury found Mr Long not guilty of murder following more than 12 hours of deliberations.

Anthony Long received seven commendations during his 33-year career Credit: PA

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Long - who received seven commendations during his 33-year career - thanked the jury.

It has been very difficult facing trial for something that happened 10 years ago when I had acted to protect the lives of others as a part of my job and based on my training and experience.

Police firearms officers do not go out intending to shoot people and, like me in this case, have to make split second life or death decisions based on the information available to them at the time.

– Anthony Long, police marksman

He also thanked his friends and family for their support throughout the legal ordeal.

But Mr Rodney's mother, Susan Alexander, said she still believed her son's death was "wholly unavoidable" - and said she was still waiting for an unreserved apology from the police.

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.

– Susan Alexander, mother