Two West Mercia Police officers are under criminal investigations and could be struck off from the force after former Aston Villa player Dallian Atkinson died following a Taser shot at a home in Telford. The 48-year-old was shot with a 50,000-volt electrical charge in the early hours of Monday morning (15 August) after police received a concerned call about his well-being
A British police officer has been charged with the murder of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died after he was Tasered three years ago.
The 48-year-old former forward for English soccer team Aston Villa went into cardiac arrest after officers used a Taser on him in Telford, central England, in August 2016, according to the UK's PA news agency. Paramedics were unable to save him and he died around 90 minutes later. A second officer from the West Mercia Police Force has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. Relatives said Atkinson was "not in his right mind" and had health complaints including kidney issues and a weak heart at the time of the incident, reported PA. During his 16-year career, the talented striker also played for Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday in England as well as teams in the Spanish, Turkish and South Korean leagues. Both officers, who have been identified only as police constables A and B for legal reasons, are due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, according to the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Jenny Hopkins, head of the special crime and counter terrorism division of CPS, said in a statement: "This decision was made following a careful review of all the evidence presented to us by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following an investigation." Police Constable A, who faces the murder charge, has also been charged with manslaughter as an alternative offense, according to the CPS. This is for a jury to consider if "it first finds that the more serious charge has not been proved." On behalf of Atkinson's family, solicitor Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose, said: "Dalian's family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died."
A policeman charged with murdering former footballer Dalian Atkinson arrived at court for a further hearing today.
Benjamin Monk, 41, walked into Birmingham Crown Court this morning alongside his colleague Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 29, who is accused of assaulting the ex-Aston Villa striker.
Monk and Bettley-Smith were at the court for a plea and trial preparation hearing today, having previously been granted unconditional bail
Mr Atkinson was pronounced dead in hospital after being restrained and Tasered when police were called to his father's home in August 2016.
Last month, Judge Simon Drew QC lifted interim restrictions that had prevented the two constables being identified when charges were laid against them the previous week.
In 'almost wholly unprecedented' circumstances, the pair had been granted anonymity by a deputy district judge. Their lawyers successfully argued naming them could infringe their 'right to life' under the European Convention of Human Rights.
But on November 13, a barrister representing media groups including DMG Media, publishers of MailOnline and the Daily Mail, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court to argue against any continuation of the restrictions. It is four years since an officer has faced a murder charge in such circumstances. Retired Scotland Yard firearms officer Anthony Long was acquitted over the death of robbery suspect Azelle Rodney, 24.
Mr Atkinson, 48, also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City and Ipswich Town during a distinguished career at the highest level of the game. He died at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital. The circumstances surrounding his death have not been revealed, although at the time of the incident independent police watchdogs said none of the officers attending the incident had body cameras.
The Crown Prosecution Service made the decision to press charges following a two-year probe.
Monk and Bettley-Smith were suspended while the initial investigation was under way. This was reviewed in February 2018 and the officers returned to work on restricted duties.
West Mercia Police said last month that that decision would be reconsidered following the decision to charge them.