Dalian Atkinson died 'after being tasered for 33 seconds and kicked in head' by police

Ross McGuinness
·5-min read
Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is charged with assault and PC Benjamin Monk murder and manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson (PA)
PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, left, PC Benjamin Monk, centre, and ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016. (PA)

Former footballer Dalian Atkinson died after being tasered for 33 seconds and kicked in the head by police, a court has heard.

Mr Atkinson, who played in the Premier League for Aston Villa, was tasered three times and kicked at least twice to the head by officers, a murder trial jury at Birmingham Crown court was told on Tuesday.

West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk, 42, denies the murder and manslaughter of the 48-year-old former footballer, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday.

Monk was charged after a three-year inquiry into Mr Atkinson’s death in Telford, Shropshire.

FILE PICTURE Dalian Atkinson in 1998. A police officer has been charged with the murder of retired footballer Dalian Atkinson who died after being Tasered.  See SWNS story SWMDdalian.  The ex-Aston Villa striker, 48, was restrained by police officers at his father's house in Telford, Shropshire, on 15 August 2016.  A second police officer, also from the West Mercia Police force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.  Both have appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court.  The Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) has not named the officers because it believes their defence will apply for them to remain anonymous.  An alternative charge of an unlawful act manslaughter has also been put forward by the CPS for the officer charged with murder, known as
Dalian Atkinson in 1998. (SWNS)
FILE PICTURE - The scene in Telford where Former football player Dalian Atkinson was killed by a police taser on Meadow Close, Telford. August 15, 2016. A police officer has been charged with the murder of retired footballer Dalian Atkinson who died after being Tasered.  See SWNS story SWMDdalian.  The ex-Aston Villa striker, 48, was restrained by police officers at his father's house in Telford, Shropshire, on 15 August 2016.  A second police officer, also from the West Mercia Police force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.  Both have appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court.  The Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) has not named the officers because it believes their defence will apply for them to remain anonymous.  An alternative charge of an unlawful act manslaughter has also been put forward by the CPS for the officer charged with murder, known as
Dalian Atkinson died following the incident in Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016. (SWNS)

Monk’s colleague, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, is also facing trial - she denies the charge of assaulting Mr Atkinson occasioning actual bodily harm before his death on 15 August, 2016.

Prosecution counsel Alexandra Healy alleged the ex-footballer was tasered for 33 seconds, more than six times the standard five-second phase.

The QC told the court that Mr Atkinson, who had serious health problems including end stage renal failure, moved towards the officers after they were called to a disturbance in Meadow Close, Telford, at about 1.30am.

Outlining the Crown’s case, the prosecutor said the third deployment of a Taser by Monk was “completely effective” and caused Mr Atkinson neuro-muscular incapacitation before he fell forwards onto the road.

The barrister told the jury: “The standard default setting of a Taser is a five-second phase, but it is possible to override that by continuing to depress the trigger.

“And PC Monk continued to depress the trigger for over six times the length of a standard five-second phase.

“The taser was deployed for 33 seconds.”

West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left) arrive at Birmingham Crown Court to stand trial. Monk is accused of the murder, and an alternative charge of manslaughter, of former footballer Dalian Atkinson and Bettley-Smith is charged with assaulting former footballer Dalian Atkinson. Picture date: Tuesday May 4, 2021.
West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith (left) arrive at Birmingham Crown Court to stand trial. (PA)

The prosecution counsel added: “Pc Monk also proceeded to kick Dalian Atkinson.

“At least two kicks were delivered by him to Dalian Atkinson’s forehead with enough force to leave the imprints of the pattern of the laces from the top of his boot on two separate areas of Mr Atkinson’s forehead.”

The court heard that Monk, who has 14 years’ service in uniform, and Bettley-Smith, who joined the force in February 2015, were in a relationship at the time of the incident.

Addressing Bettley-Smith’s alleged role, Ms Healy claimed the younger officer had struck Mr Atkinson, whilst he was lying on the ground, a number of times with her baton.

The prosecutor added of Monk: “In kicking Dalian Atkinson in the head not once, but on two separate occasions, PC Monk was not, the prosecution say, acting in self-defence or in defence of another.

“He was no doubt angry that he had been put in fear by this man. He chose to take that anger out on Dalian Atkinson by kicking him in the head.”

The court heard Mr Atkinson had “a number of serious health issues”, including high blood pressure, heart disease and renal failure.

Describing Mr Atkinson’s behaviour at the scene as disturbed and erratic, Ms Healy said: “He was shouting in the street, demanding to be let into his father’s house.

“It awoke some of the neighbours, one of whom was so concerned that she phoned the police.

“The two defendants were the two police officers who attended the scene in response.”

After knocking at the door of the ex-footballer’s father’s home, Monk attempted to taser Mr Atkinson but it was ineffective, the court heard, possibly because the two probes did not attach properly.

Mr Atkinson then came out of the address and advanced to the end of the drive, prompting Monk to deploy a second Taser cartridge towards Mr Atkinson’s back, which was also ineffective.

Kenroy Atkinson, the brother of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, arrives at Birmingham Crown Court where, PC Benjamin Monk is accused of the murder, and an alternative charge of manslaughter, of his brother. Monk's colleague, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is charged with assault of the former footballer. Picture date: Tuesday May 4, 2021.
Kenroy Atkinson, the brother of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, arrives at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday. (PA)
Britain Football Soccer - Aston Villa v Manchester United - Coca Cola Cup Final - 27/3/94
Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson celebrates scoring
Action Images via Reuters

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Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson celebrates scoring against Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup final at Wembley. (Reuters)

Ms Healy went on: “Dalian Atkinson then proceeded to punch the glass pane in the top half of the door to his father’s address, causing it to smash.

“He did not enter the house and there was a further confrontation between the officers and Dalian Atkinson.

“He had come back towards the two officers who were moved backwards away from him in the road.”

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It is alleged that Mr Atkinson was then the subject of an unlawful attack after a Taser was used for a third time.

Ms Healy told the court: “A number of residents living in Meadow Close witnessed this attack.

“Their view was that once Dalian Atkinson had fallen to the ground he was unresponsive and still. He was no longer posing any threat to the officers. Nonetheless the two officers set about him.”

The court heard an ambulance was called but Mr Atkinson, who had lost consciousness and was unresponsive, went into cardiac arrest en route to hospital and was pronounced dead at 2.45am.

Ms Healy said: “The pathologists and intensive care expert instructed by the prosecution agree that whilst his underlying health conditions meant that Dalian Atkinson was at a greatly increased risk of dying, were it not for the third Taser deployment and the kicks to his head, Dalian Atkinson would not have died that night.”

The trial continues.