World, Europe

UK police officer convicted of manslaughter of ex-footballer

Dalian Atkinson, who died in 2016 after being shocked by police stun gun, played for Turkish side Fenerbahce in 1995-1997

Karim El-Bar   | 23.06.2021
UK police officer convicted of manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson ( FILE PHOTO - Anadolu Agency )

LONDON

A British police officer was convicted on Wednesday of the manslaughter of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, local media reported.

Benjamin Monk, of the West Mercia police force, was convicted by a Birmingham crown court jury of the 2016 killing. The jury took over 18 hours to come to its verdict, acquitting Monk of murder, but convicting him of manslaughter.

The police officer fired his stun gun into Atkinson for 33 seconds, far longer than the five seconds that is standard police procedure.

Monk – who is white – also kicked Atkinson in the head twice as the former footballer lay on the ground. Atkinson – who is Black – was kicked so hard that his blood was on Monk’s boot laces, and the imprint of Monk’s boot was found on Atkinson’s head.

Monk is the first police officer to be convicted of manslaughter while on duty for over 30 years. He had claimed that he feared for his life during the incident.

Vulnerable’ player met with violence

Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, a police officer as well as Monk’s co-accused and former girlfriend, is still awaiting to hear her verdict. She is accused of actual bodily harm, a charge she denies, for hitting Atkinson with a baton while he was on the ground.

The event took place on Aug. 15, 2016, and Atkinson, 48, was pronounced dead 70 minutes after the incident.

It took place at the home he had bought for his father, after a neighbor called the police following a disturbance caused by the former footballer.

Atkinson found fame as a striker for Aston Villa. He also played for other clubs in England and Spain. In 1995-1997, he also played for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce. He retired from football in 2001.

A statement by Atkinson’s family released after the verdict said: “We are hugely relieved that the whole country now knows the truth about how Dalian died.

“While it has been hard for us not to be able to talk about the details of Dalian’s death, it has been even harder to sit through this trial and to hear PC Monk try to justify the force he used.

“On the night he died, Dalian was vulnerable and unwell and needed medical attention. He instead received violence, and died with PC Monk’s boot lace prints bruised onto his forehead.

“We have been sickened to hear PC Monk try to minimise the force he used on Dalian and exaggerate the threat he posed. Fortunately, the jury has seen through the lies and the pretence. We would like to thank the jury members for all their hard work and attention.”

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