Socialist Worker

Cop felt ‘big relief’ when Dalian Atkinson hit the floor after being tasered

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2758

The police used a taser against former footballer Dalian Atkinson

The police used a taser against former footballer Dalian Atkinson (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The police officer charged with the murder of Dalian Atkinson told the court last week his “fear was through the roof” when he tasered the former footballer.

PC Benjamin Monk from West Mercia Police is on trial following the death of Atkinson in Telford, Shropshire, in 2016.

Last week the cop’s defence began and he was cross-examined by the prosecution.

Monk told jurors he thought he and PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who was also on the scene, “were going to die” after being called to Atkinson’s father’s house. Monk also told the jury that Atkinson ignored warnings after being threatened with a Taser.

Bettley-Smith, who was in a relationship with Monk at the time, has been charged with assault.

Both officers deny all charges.

Monk deployed his Taser twice unsuccessfully. “I thought we were done for,” he said, adding that he then “ran for my life”.

Atkinson did not make physical contact with either officer during the six-minute confrontation.

Monk told the jury he and Bettley-Smith “had to protect the man inside the house”, and he aimed his Taser at the footballer for the third time.

He then overrode the safety switch on the Taser, holding it down for 33 seconds, which is six times longer than the standard length.

Monk told the court he felt a “big relief” when Atkinson hit the floor, and had no idea how long he fired at him.

After thinking Atkinson was trying to get up, Monk admitted to kicking him.

The court has already heard that Monk kicked Atkinson at least twice and left imprints of his bootlaces on him.

In an interview after the event, Monk said he kicked Atkinson “in the shoulder”. Yet he told colleagues who arrived on the scene, “I had to kick him in the head”.

When asked why his story changed Monk answered, “I think it was influenced by wishing things could have been different—wishful thinking. There wasn’t an intention to kick him anywhere, it was an instinctive act, a desperate, instinctive act because this was the last thing I had.”

Monk told the court the force he used to kick the former footballer who lay on the ground was “about a four” out of ten.

He also said he “didn't want to hurt Mr Atkinson in any capacity”. Monk added that he was “devastated” after hearing Atkinson had died in hospital following the altercation.

Monk’s barrister Patrick Gibbs QC asked if he felt his actions were reasonable on the night of 15 August.

He replied, “In all the circumstances, with everything I faced, I am confident my actions were reasonable, they were necessary and I just did the best I could.”

Acceptable 

Retired expert police trainer Ian Mills also told jurors that pinning a head down was acceptable “but not with the foot”.

“I’ve never trained it, I would never train it and I've never seen it,” he said. Mills also said he would not train officers to kick subjects in the head, citing “medical implications related to each part of the body and the tactics used”.

He also said he had seen officers freeze in stressful situations and hold on to the trigger of a Taser.

PC Samuel Wright and Sergeant Gemma Bridgwood were two of the first back-up officers on scene the night Atkinson died.

Both have already given evidence that they saw Monk standing next to Atkinson, with his boot resting on his head.

Prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC asked Monk last week, “Why did you have your boot on Mr Atkinson's head when officers arrived at the scene?”

Monk replied, “The police constable and the sergeant made mention of this, but this is a memory which I don't have.”

Healy claimed Monk had “deliberately sought to lie” about kicking and tasering Atkinson. He replied, “Absolutely not.”

The prosecution also said that, after the incident, Monk was spending nights at Bettley-Smith's home where the two came up with a story together.

Healy asked, “You and she agreed to pretend that Mr Atkinson was trying to get up in order to justify your and her excessive force?”

“Absolutely not,” Monk replied again.

Healy then suggested Monk encouraged Bettley-Smith to attack Atkinson while he was on the floor. Monk said he did not. “She made her decision based on her own observations,” he answered.

And after telling Monk he took his anger out on Atkinson “in a wholly unprofessional and unlawful way”, Monk replied, “Absolutely not”.

The trial continues.


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