A jury at the Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday found a police officer guilty of the manslaughter of a retired footballer he excessively tasered and kicked during a confrontation in August 2016.
According to the Independent, former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town striker Dalian Atkinson suffered a cardiac arrest after Police Constable Benjamin Monk tasered him for 33 seconds and kicked him in the head “like a football” more than once. The 48-year-old ex-footballer later died in a hospital. And though Atkinson had underlying health conditions, jurors were informed the tasing and kicks to his head played a part in his death.
The 33 seconds Monk tasered Atkinson was said to be over six times longer than the required departmental standard. Prosecutors also argued Monk’s use of force was excessive and unreasonable and he acted out of anger.
The fatal August 15 incident occurred after the victim’s father called police to report Atkinson was yelling outside his home and trying to force his way in. Monk and another police officer reported to the scene but things escalated. During the trial, Monk testified he acted in self-defense and Atkinson was seemingly having a mental health crisis during the confrontation, the Independent reported.
Monk had also initially told investigators that he kicked Atkinson because he “formed the opinion that the only way to keep this man on the ground to ensure our safety was to kick him. And that’s what I did.”
However, witnesses said that even when Atkinson looked unresponsive on the ground, Monk did not stop attacking him. Monk did not also disclose he kicked Atkinson in the head and rather lied that he kicked the victim in the shoulder.
But neighbors testified they saw Monk attacking Atkinson in a “really violent stomping action”, adding that he also kicked the victim “like a football”.
“I was traumatized from what I saw, it was a nightmare. He was stamping his foot down,” a witness said. “He was kicking his head and stamping on it and I had to look away as I couldn’t keep up; it was too much for me and I had to look away.”
Atkinson’s family released a statement in response to the verdict, saying: “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.”
Monk was, however, not found guilty of murder. His colleague female officer who was also involved in the incident is facing an assault charge and a jury is yet to decide her fate.
Per charity Inquest, the last time a police officer in England or Wales was convicted of murder or manslaughter over the death of a victim while in custody or after police contact was in the 1980s, the Independent reported.