Socialist Worker

Police were ‘kicking the shit’ out of Dalian Atkinson before his death, jury hears

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2753

Dalian Atkinson was tasered in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016

Dalian Atkinson was tasered in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


At least two kicks by a police officer to Dalian Atkinson’s forehead had “enough force to leave imprints”, a court has heard.

PC Benjamin Monk of West Mercia Police has pleaded not guilty on charges of murder and manslaughter in the death of Atkinson in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016. PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who also pleaded not guilty, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to the former professional football player.

Monk is alleged to have fired a Taser at Atkinson for 33 seconds—six times longer than the standard five-second use.

The court heard that Monk kicked Atkinson and at least two kicks to his forehead had “enough force to leave the imprints of the pattern of the laces from the top of his boot”.

Meanwhile Bettley-Smith struck Atkinson “a number of times” with her baton.

One witness account saw Monk kick Atkinson’s head three to four time with “full force”. Healy said another “saw the officer pull his right foot all the way back” and give a “powerful kick”.

“The officer’s leg went straight back and snapped forwards as though he was kicking a football,” they added.

A further witness said the officers were “kicking the shit” out of Atkinson.

Monk had served for 14 years at the time of the incident and the two officers were “in a relationship”.

Prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC explained that police were called when an “agitated” Atkinson visited his father's house in Telford shouting and demanding to be let in.  

On arrival at 1:30am, Monk attempted to Taser Atkinson. “It didn’t appear to affect him” and a second attempt was also “ineffective,” the jury heard.

Following a further confrontation between Atkinson and the two officers, Monk fired a third Taser cartridge.

Healy told the court, “This deployment was completely effective.” Atkinson’s muscles “were overcome and he fell forward onto the road”.

Default 

The jury heard that the standard default setting of the Taser had a phase of five seconds—but it could be overridden “by continuing to depress the trigger”.

“PC Monk continued to depress the trigger for more than six times the length of a standard phase. The Taser was deployed for 33 seconds,” Healy said.

Neighbours who saw the attack reported that when Atkinson fell to the ground “he was unresponsive and still”.

Experts agree that Atkinson’s underlying health conditions meant he was at an increased risk of dying. But the jury was told “were it not for the third Taser deployment and the kicks to his head, Dalian Atkinson would not have died that night.”

Healy told the jury Atkinson “was no longer posing any threat to the officers” once on the ground.

She added that the two officers “were confronted with a man clearly acting in a disturbed and erratic way" and “were entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves or protect another”.

But argued “it was not reasonable to continue to depress the Taser for 33 seconds.”

Healy added, “PC Monk was not acting in self-defence” but chose to take his anger out by kicking Atkinson. She said he could “only have intended to cause really serious harm.”

And Bettley-Smith “was not acting in self-defence” and also took out her anger “on a man who had earlier put her in fear.”

When other officers arrived on the scene Monk had his foot “rested” on Atkinson’s head. Unresponsive and breathing in “a low pitched prolonged grunt type noise”, he was then placed in an ambulance.

The officer accompanying him was “concerned he was feigning illness” so decided not to remove his handcuffs.

Atkinson went into cardiac arrest as medics waited for the resuscitation bay to be opened.

Healy said, “Chest compressions were commenced and further treatment of adrenaline and defibrillator shocks were given.” But Atkinson was pronounced dead at 2:44am.

The trial continues.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.