A police officer who kicked a former Premier League star in the head after tasering him for a total of 33 seconds has been jailed for eight years for manslaughter.
PC Benjamin Monk was acquitted of murdering Dalian Atkinson, who played for Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town during a glittering career in the 1990s.
Atkinson, who was black, died in the early hours of 15 August 2016 after police were called to an incident at his father’s home in Telford, near Birmingham.
Judge Melbourne Inman QC told Monk on Tuesday, 29 June: "It was when he was on the floor that you used force that was beyond reasonable.”
BREAKING: West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk has been jailed for eight years at Birmingham Crown Court for the manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson.— Nadine White (@Nadine_Writes) June 29, 2021
"Although they were difficult, you failed to act appropriately in the circumstances as they developed The obvious aggravating factor is that you committed this offence while on duty as a police officer," said the judge.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct said it was the first time in more than 30 years that a British police officer had been convicted for killing someone while on duty.
I’ve not yet had a chance to digest this, but here are the judge’s sentencing remarks in the case of Benjamin Monk, the police officer sentenced to 8 years’ custody for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson. https://t.co/jfkoEbXRKS— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) June 29, 2021
Since 1990 there have been 10 murder or manslaughter trials involving police officers, all of which ended in acquittals or charges being dropped.
PC Monk was the first officer to be charged with murder in connection with the use of a Taser.
Police officer Ben Monk jailed for eight years for the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson.— Tristan Kirk (@kirkkorner) June 29, 2021
A judge found the PC acted lawfully in Tasering Mr Atkinson in a bid to control a volatile situation, but used unlawful force by kicking him twice as he lay on the ground.
Mr Atkinson's family said Monk had been guilty of "a callous attack and a terrible abuse of a police officer's position of trust."
They called for the police to address the way they treat black men and added: "As his fellow footballers take the knee, we hope that they will honour the memory of Dalian.”
Hickman & Rose partner @KateMaynard2 reads out statement on behalf of her clients, the bereaved family of Dalian Atkinson, following sentencing of police officer found guilty of his manslaughter pic.twitter.com/5E2m8ijByc— Hickman & Rose (@hickmanandrose) June 29, 2021
England and Germany players are expecting to take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter before their Euro 2020 game.
Prosecutor Alexandra Healy had told Birmingham Crown Court Atkinson, 48, was behaving in a “disturbed and erratic” manner as he demanded access to his father’s home and was claiming to be the “Messiah”.
Giving evidence, PC Monk said he was terrified of Mr Atkinson, who made death threats and smashed a glass door.
The police officer told the jury Mr Atkinson said: “You can put 100,000 volts through me. I am the f***ing Messiah. Your Taser won’t work. I’m going to take you to the gates of hell.”
PC Monk then added: “He was very, very scary, very scary.”
It later transpired that Mr Atkinson was suffering a mental health crisis on the night he died.
When the England players take the knee this evening, I think it would be nice to hear fans sing "There's only one Dalian Atkinson..." to honour Dalian, drown out any racists that are booing, and highlight why players take the knee. https://t.co/fxqiP0FXpA— Nicky Cunningham (@pacifistfighter) June 29, 2021
She said PC Monk and another officer, Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, tried to get Atkinson under control.
PC Monk used his Taser on Atkinson for 33 seconds - six times longer than is recommended - and then kicked the former footballer twice in the head as he lay on the ground.
Ms Healy said the imprint of PC Monk’s shoelaces were found on Mr Atkinson's forehead.
The jury were unable to reach a verdict in the case of Ms Bettley-Smith, who denied assault.