A police officer has been charged with the murder of black footballer Dalian Atkinson.
Cops shot the former Aston Villa player with a Taser near his father’s home in Telford, West Midlands, in August 2016. He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital.
Another officer from the West Mercia force has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.
The two cops are set to appear in court in Birmingham later on Thursday.
The officer charged with murder has also been charged with a lesser offence of “unlawful act manslaughter”. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) explained a jury may consider it “if it first finds that the more serious charge has not been proved”.
The family’s solicitor, Kate Maynard, 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.
“They ask for their privacy to be respected and press for the criminal proceedings to progress without delay or obstruction.”
The CPS decision to charge the two officers follows an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Complaints. The police watchdog said its investigation found that police contact involved a Taser, restraint and other uses of force.
Three West Mercia officers were interviewed twice under criminal caution and served with gross misconduct notices following Dalian’s death.
Deborah Coles, director of the Inquest charity, said his death “raises concerns of significant public interest, not least at a time when we are seeing the increased arming of police with Tasers”.
She also pointed out how delays in prosecuting police officers have a negative impact on bereaved families. Coles said, “The hope of many bereaved families, that police officers involved in a death are held to account to a criminal standard, is too often denied.
“As such, today’s decision from the Crown Prosecution Service—though long awaited—is welcome.
“Two years ago, an independent review of deaths in police custody by Dame Elish Angiolini QC highlighted the negative impact of delays in investigations and prosecutions.
“Angiolini recommended that such cases be dealt with in the same time scales as a civilian homicide case.
“Clearly there is still much work to be done to meet those standards.
“We hope the next stages of this prosecution are pursued promptly and that the upmost scrutiny of the actions of these officers is ensured.”