Police officer, 43, charged with murder of Dalian Atkinson, tells court he was ‘terrified’ he would die
A police officer charged with the murder of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson claims he was ‘terrified’ that he and his fellow lover would ‘die’.
Prosecutors allege that West Mercia police officer Benjamin Monk, who denies murder and manslaughter, used unlawful and unreasonable force during a final 33-second shelling of the Taser, and then kicked former Aston Villa star Atkinson in the head.
Jurors heard Monk deployed three Taser cartridges before Atkinson, who later died in hospital, was handcuffed near his father’s home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire, on the early morning of August 15, 2016.
Monk gave his first testimony in his defense at Birmingham Crown Court today and said he felt ‘great relief’ when Mr Atkinson was knocked out after being tasered for a third time.
Two previous Taser attacks had been ineffective, he told the jury, leaving behind his third and final cartridge.
Monk said Mr Atkinson allegedly told him during the incident that ‘you can put 100,000 volts through me, I’m the damn messiah – your taser won’t work and now I’m taking you to the gates of hell’.
West Mercia Police Officer Benjamin Monk arrives at Birmingham Crown Court, where he is accused of killing former footballer Dalian Atkinson. PC Monk denies wrongdoing
Dalian Atkinson Was Hit By Three Taser Cartridges Deployed By PC Monk
Benjamin Monk and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith leave Birmingham Crown Court earlier in case
When asked how he felt after the second Taser attack failed, the then 14-year-old officer said, “I remember thinking, ‘We’re ready’.”
When Patrick Gibbs QC, Monk’s attorney, asked the officer what he did next, he replied, “I ran for my life – we ran,” something he told jurors he’d never done in his entire career. .
The 43-year-old said: ‘He (Mr Atkinson) was very, very scary.’
“And the device I thought might work for me didn’t work and I was terrified.”
Monk and a younger colleague, whom he was dating at the time, Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, withdrew from Atkinson, in the residential area, while waiting for more officers.
By this time, Mr. Atkinson had smashed the glass on the front door of his father’s property.
Both officers had been sent to the Meadow Close address after members of the public called 999 shortly after Mr Atkinson arrived citing concerns for the elderly resident’s welfare.
During the first two failed Taser attacks, Bettley-Smith called for reinforcements, activated her emergency button and called all available units to the location.
Kenroy Atkinson, brother of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, arrives at Birmingham Crown Court in May
Monk then described hearing one of the backup units radio bells to tell the couple they were “six minutes” away.
He said, “That’s a broadcast I definitely remember, because I got absolute terror of thinking the nearest crew was that far away.”
Monk said that after he backed out down the street, he tasered Mr Atkinson a third time, and this time “the ex-football star stopped toward me and seemed to stop where he was.”
He added: ‘He fell to the ground.
“I know he was a carpenter, but I can’t tell if it was standing.”
When asked how he felt at the time, Monk replied, “The fear I had when he came to me, knowing I was on the last (Taser) cartridge, and everything else had failed.
“Related to that, if this cartridge didn’t work, Ellie (Bettley-Smith), I, the gentleman in the house, might have been ready — so the fact that it worked was a big relief.”
Monk said he had considered “very much” about running from Mr. Atkinson and leading him away from the lock, but he said, “We had to protect the man in the house.”
With Mr Atkinson now on the ground, Monk said the former Villa striker had begun “picking” at his clothes, which the officer said was an attempt to detach the Taser’s power hooks to get back on his feet.
At that point, he remembered Bettley-Smith coming up to him and “she delivered some batons to the lower part of Mr. Atkinson’s legs.”
Monk said Mr Atkinson was then trying to get into a “position where he is on the verge of restoring himself.”
“His left palm was flat on the floor and that gave me genuine faith that Mr. Atkinson was trying to get up,” he added.
When asked what he did, Monk told the court, “I kicked him.”
The court has already heard evidence linking Monk’s boot to Mr Atkinson’s head, but the officer said at the time that he believed he had “kicked the 48-year-old in the shoulder.”
Monk said, ‘I didn’t mean to kick him anywhere, it was an instinctive act, a desperate, instinctive act, because this was the last thing I had.
“I believe in my interview I said my intention was to kick him on the shoulder, but it’s more realistic to say it was instinctive.”
He added: “I wanted Mr. Atkinson to stop getting up because I thought if he got up we would die.”
The court has previously heard that the Taser-trained monk held the trigger of the weapon for 33 seconds during the third strike.
When asked if he was aware of this, he replied, “Absolutely not. Absolutely not.’
Monk had only signed his taser five times before the fatal incident; once in 2010 and four times in 2016 — but at no point had the device fired at any of those previous four incidents, jurors have heard.
Monk also denied telling his colleague Bettley-Smith that, as one eyewitness described, he “beat him f******” in reference to Mr Atkinson, while the ex-sportsman was on the floor, after he shot the third and last time.
Monk would have intended to inflict really serious injuries on Mr Atkinson, who also played for Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town, after those two initial uses of the Taser proved ineffective.
Bettley-Smith, 31, is also on trial, denying a charge of assault involving actual bodily harm using her retractable baton.
The process continues.