A police officer has been charged with murdering former footballer Dalian Atkinson, who collapsed and later died after being Tasered in 2016.
The policeman, who has not been named by authorities, will appear in court today alongside another officer, who is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.
Mr Atkinson was struck by a 50,000-volt shock after reportedly threatening his elderly father on the doorstep of the pensioner’s home in Trench, Telford in August 2016.
The former Aston Villa striker, who was 48, went into cardiac arrest and died in hospital 90 minutes after the incident.
A witness claimed at the time that officers discharged their stun guns more than once during the confrontation, which took place in the street where he was raised.
Former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson died after he was Tasered by police outside his father’s home in 2016. Two police officers were today charged over his death
Family and friends, including former teammate Ian Taylor, carried Mr Atkinson’s coffin into the crematorium chapel in Telford ahead of his funeral last year
The Crown Prosecution Service today confirmed two officers have been charged over the death, one of those has been charged with murder.
In an unusual move, the officers have not yet been named by authorities ahead of a planned hearing at at Birmingham Crown Court this afternoon. The CPS attributed the decision to ‘legal reasons’.
Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins said: ‘Following the death of Dalian Atkinson in Telford on 15 August 2016, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised a charge of murder against a West Mercia police constable.
‘A second police constable, from the same force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm (ABH). Mr Atkinson’s family has been informed.’
The case is believed to be the first time a police officer has ever been charged with murder over the deployment of a Taser.
Lawyers for Mr Atkinson’s family later released a statement saying: ‘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.’
Forensics experts were at the scene in Trench, Telford after the incident in August 2016
The incident unfolded outside Mr Atkinson’s father home, where the footballer grew up
What are the charges against the two PCs?
The two police officers have only been named as ‘Police Constable A’ and ‘Police Constable B’.
- ‘Police Constable A’ has been charged with the murder of Dalian Atkinson. He has also been charged with unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence.
- ‘Police Constable B’ has been charged with assault causing ABH.
The two police officers will appear together at Birmingham Crown Court today.
The incident was initially investigated by the police watchdog, the IOPC, which referred a file of evidence to the CPS last year.
Witnesses said Mr Atkinson had arrived at his father’s house and shouting was heard before the police arrived.
A former friend of the striker later said he had come out of hospital a week earlier, following an extended stay.
Atkinson’s nephew, Fabian, 32, from Telford, said: ‘He had some health issues that he was trying to get through and that’s why his heart was weak.’
In a statement issued by Mr Atkinson’s siblings after his death, they said: ‘Dalian grew to be a kind, caring and protective brother, with a lively personality: he was funny and cheeky.
‘He always brought life and energy to family gatherings – when Dalian turned up, we knew there would be laughter and banter.’
As well as Aston Villa, Atkinson also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Manchester City, Fenerbache and Real Sociedad. He scored in Villa’s 1994 league cup final victory over Manchester United.
Dalian Atkinson was a cult hero among fans of the teams he played for. He is pictured in 1992
After his death, a banner was placed at Villa Park during the team’s match with Huddersfield
In a statement which did not identify the officers who have been charged, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, of West Mercia Police, said: ‘Our thoughts continue to remain with the family and friends of Dalian Atkinson at this difficult time.
‘We understand the need for answers, however as court proceedings are now under way it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment regarding the circumstances of Mr Atkinson’s death.
‘The officers involved have a right to a fair trial and we will continue to make sure they have the appropriate support throughout the forthcoming criminal justice process.’
Derrick Campbell, regional director of the IOPC, said: ‘We appreciate the patience shown by all concerned during our thorough and independent investigation and the period it was with the CPS for consideration. We have kept Mr Atkinson’s family, West Mercia Police, and the coroner informed throughout.’