The man accused of murdering Azelle Rodney opens up about his career
Ben Travis – @BenSTravis
Thursday 18th August 2016
Usually a documentary surrounding a person who has taken several lives will feature their subject behind bars.
But for Tony Long, it was part of his job – he was a firearms officer in the Metropolitan Police for 25 years.
During that time, he shot five people, and killed three of them in the line of duty.
He’s the subject of Channel 4’s documentary Secrets of a Police Marksman, in which he talks about his career and the things he’s had to do to for the public good.
“If they pose an immediate threat to you, they cease to be a human being,” Long says of his victims.
“They are a target. Your brain has said, they have to be shot, and you shoot them. “Some people might find the taking of a human life absolutely abhorrent. But there are circumstances where that has to happen, and somebody has to do it. That somebody happens to be people like me.”
One case in particular that Long opens up about is the 2005 killing of Azelle Rodney in North London. At the time, intelligence suggested that Rodney had collected fully-automatic machine guns, set to be used against a gang of Colombian drug dealers.
“I’ve seen him duck down and spring back up again, and at that point I’m convinced he’s got a MAC-10 in his hand, and he’s about to open fire,” he explains. “At that point I’ve got not option.”
However, after Rodney was killed in the back seat by Long, a search of the vehicle revealed that none of the three weapons in the car were automatic, and only one was loaded.
Long found himself accused of murder – with a ‘not guilty’ verdict only reached in 2015.
The one-off film offers an uncompromising insight into those who have to make these split-section decisions with lives at stake – and the effects and consequence that ripple from those actions.