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Policeman guilty of gross misconduct for using a baton to strike Dalian Atkinson

After being Tasered, a police officer smacked former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson with a baton and was later found guilty of gross misconduct.

Outside of his father’s Shropshire home, West Mercia Police officer Benjamin Monk kicked former striker Mr. Atkinson at least twice in the head, causing him to pass away.

When Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith and Monk responded to the incident in Telford on August 15, 2016, they were both probationary response officers.

Monk had already Tasered Mr Atkinson, 48, to the ground before ‘stomping’ on his head repeatedly, with one witness describing a blow as ‘ferocious’.

Bettley-Smith, accused of assaulting Mr Atkinson, struck the star six times with her baton.

Undated handout file photo issued by Karen Wright of Dalian Atkinson as West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk has been jailed for eight years at Birmingham Crown Court for the manslaughter of the ex-footballer. Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS Atkinson. Photo credit should read: Karen Wright/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Dalian Atkinson died after suffering from a cardiac arrest.

Monk was jailed for eight years in 2021 after being convicted of manslaughter.

She was acquitted following a retrial in 2022.

But the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), a police watchdog, said there was a gross misconduct disciplinary case.

A disciplinary panel today found her guilty of this, meaning she will face immediate dismissal from West Mercia Police.

The panel heard how the two officers responded to a 999 call to find Mr Atkinson ‘in the grip of a psychotic episode’ outside his father’s home.

His brother, Ernest, described how Mr Atkinson had been suffering from heart and kidney problems and arrived at the family home in a ‘manic state and depressed’.

File photo dated 02/06/21 of West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk who has been jailed for eight years at Birmingham Crown Court for the manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson. Issue date: Tuesday June 29, 2021. See PA story COURTS Atkinson. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

In response to the player’s mental breakdown, Monk kicked him before Bettley-Smith struck him three times with her police-issued baton.

He was then floored by the Taser.

Bettley-Smith struck him a further three times, however, after telling the panel she was ‘looking over her right shoulder’ to see backup arriving.

She told the panel during her evidence on Wednesday: ‘I just remember what I perceived to be a really aggressive, hostile, growling and just thought we had antagonised him even more by Tasering him.

‘I perceived him to be trying to propel himself to get up and proceeded to strike Mr Atkinson to the fleshy areas of his body to try and get him down and under control.’

Though, eye-witnesses said Mr Atkinson was ‘not moving’ and ‘was not resistant’.

Barrister Dijen Basu KC said: ‘The second set (of strikes) was clearly wholly unjustified – we say all of the strikes were unjustified.

‘But the second set were wholly unnecessary, wholly unreasonable, wholly unjustified and above all, to use normal language, it was outrageous to do that in the circumstances.

‘The man had just been kicked in the head, having been Tasered, and dropped to the floor, and with other officers arriving.’

Medical experts said Mr Atkinson likely hit his head as he fell to the road during the 33-second Taser burst, causing a ‘concussion, exacerbated by any kick or kicks to the head’.

Mr Atkinson sustained cardiac arrest on the way to the Princess Royal Hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 3am.

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