So after eight years, we finally have the verdict in the Azelle Rodney public enquiry. Mr Rodney was shot by armed police following a high speed chase through North London, ending outside the Railway pub in Mill Hill. Many of my friends were drinking outside the pub and witnessed the scene. Most had been drinking all day, so have no clear recollection of the events, but all agreed that the Police were serious in their intent.
Reading the verdict, I am amazed at the conclusion. A car full of gangsters, full of guns needs to be stopped. The Police are not dealing with choirboys, they are dealing with armed and dangerous people. Those of us who abide by the law and don't drive around armed to the teeth, stop when the police flag us down. We try and deal with them in a reasonable manner. In return, we hope the Police are reasonable with us.
I know many members of the Metropolitan Police. I don't envy them for a second, especially when I see ridiculous verdicts like this. The statement that the officer had no rational reason to think that Mr Rodney had picked up the firearm is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If I was the officer, I think that it would be fairer to say that given the circumstances, there was no rational reason to suspect Mr Rodney didn't have the gun at the ready.
I happen to believe that the moment a criminal carries a firearm illegally, they have suspended their rights to be treated with care and courtesy by the police. I believe that the only time they regain it is when they have their hands high above their head and they are submitting to the rule of law.
In all other cases, I believe the Police have every right to shoot them dead. I am very sorry if this view offends anyone, but if an armed man breaks into my house, or threatens me in the street, or threatens my children, I want the police to take them out. I understand the motivation of the family of Azelle Rodney and their wanting "justice" and some understanding of what happened but I don't for one second share their views that what happened was wrong or unfair.
To me this is another case where the law is an ass. The met don't routinely shoot people who are not involved in crime. They don't shoot people who are unarmed, except by mistake. There are some high profile cases where the police got it wrong and shot the wrong person. In these cases, the family are perfectly justified to seek justice, but a car full of gangsters, with guns on board is different. It seems that the fact that Mr Rodney didn't have the gun cocked and ready for action was a key part of the verdict. To me it means nothing. The mere fact the gun was in the car was all the justification the Police needed. Just suppose that the Police hadn't intercepted the car? What would have happened then? I doubt that there would be justice for the victims gunned down in cold blood.
In some ways I am pleased we are the sort of country where such cases are properly investigated. I would never want the police to be able to feel they could "take people out" who they didn't like. The sad thing is that I really don't believe this case is an example of this. It was a case where the Police had a reasonable expectation that a gangster carrying a firearm may pose a threat to them. That to me is all the justification they need. My biggest concern is that the Police will find it impossible to do their job. Their job is dangerous and anything which makes it more so has to be a bad thing.