A police officer who unlawfully killed ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson by Tasering him to the bottom and kicking him within the head has been jailed for eight years.
PC Benjamin Monk was cleared of homicide however convicted of manslaughter after jurors heard he left two bootlace imprints on the previous Premier League star’s brow following an “extreme” 33-second Taser deployment.
Monk’s six-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court docket was instructed he was “not trustworthy” after the demise of the previous Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich City striker, having claimed to have aimed a single kick on the sufferer’s shoulder.
Mr Atkinson, who had smashed a window whereas struggling a psychological well being disaster, died in hospital about an hour after an ambulance was known as to the scene close to his father’s dwelling in Meadow Shut, Telford, Shropshire, on 15 August 2016.
In line with the charity Inquest, Monk is the primary police officer in England and Wales since 1986 to be discovered responsible of illegal killing over a demise in custody or following police contact.
Monk, who denied homicide and manslaughter, claimed to have acted in affordable self-defence whereas “terrified” of Mr Atkinson, 48, who had a coronary heart situation, was present process dialysis therapy and was smaller and lighter in weight.
However photos of two separate areas of head damage accepted to match Monk’s bootlaces had been uncovered by forensic examinations utilizing polarised gentle, proving his account was false.
In addition to the marks to either side of Mr Atkinson’s brow, a pathologist discovered 15 areas of bruising below the pores and skin, together with marks to his neck, shoulder, shoulder blade, flank, buttock, thigh, bicep, elbow and shin.
It emerged on Monday that Monk had been discovered responsible of gross misconduct 5 years earlier than he killed Mr Atkinson after failing to say on his utility type to affix the West Mercia power in 2001 two cautions.
The courtroom heard he stored his job in February 2011 – a yr after particulars of the cautions got here to gentle – regardless of being discovered to have breached required requirements for honesty and integrity.
Addressing the courtroom on Monday, prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC mentioned: “Mr Monk was cautioned for theft from a store as an worker – he was employed on the time at Woolworths in 1997. There was an extra warning in 1999 for being discovered drunk.”
The courtroom was instructed the warnings weren’t recorded on a pc system due to insurance policies on the time for coping with spent cautions.
Jailing Monk on Tuesday, the Recorder of Birmingham, Melbourne Inman QC, mentioned: “You have got let your self and the power down.
“Though they had been tough, you did not act appropriately within the circumstances as they developed and also you used a level of power in delivering two kicks to the top, which was extreme and which had been a explanation for Mr Atkinson’s demise.
“The plain aggravating issue is that you just dedicated this offence whereas on obligation as a police officer.
“The police play a central and necessary position in upholding the rule of regulation in our society. The sentence should mirror the significance of sustaining public confidence in our police.”
Monk, whom the choose accepted had proven real regret, was ordered to serve two-thirds of his eight-year sentence earlier than being entitled to launch on licence.
In line with those that had been current in courtroom, he nodded in obvious settlement with a number of the choose’s remarks, however remained emotionless as he was sentenced, pausing to wave in the direction of a lady within the public gallery earlier than being led away.
Reacting to the sentencing, Mr Atkinson’s household condemned the “callous assault” as a “horrible abuse of a police officer’s place of belief”.
They added in an announcement: “PC Monk used horrendous violence in opposition to Dalian, who was in an especially susceptible place in psychological well being disaster and wanted assist.
“He then failed to offer a full and trustworthy account of what occurred, together with at his trial. We’re happy that each one these components have been mirrored within the sentence.
“We pay tribute to all of the bereaved households of Black males who’ve died by the hands of the police and whose struggle for justice has not led to profitable prosecutions.
“It shouldn’t take the demise of a well-known footballer for the prison justice system to work correctly and we hope extra households can safe justice in future no matter whether or not the deceased is a high-profile individual.
“As his fellow footballers take the knee, we hope that they’ll honour the reminiscence of Dalian.”
Deborah Coles, director of the charity Inquest, which offers assist after state-related deaths, mentioned: “That is the primary manslaughter conviction of a police officer for over three a long time. Police can’t be above the regulation however for too lengthy they’ve acted with impunity following deaths.
“Dalian was topic to dehumanising and extreme police violence, while in want of safety. It’s shameful that the household have needed to wait over 5 years for this.
“The imprisonment of 1 police officer doesn’t cease systemic racism and police violence. Dalian’s demise shouldn’t be an remoted case, neither is this officer a ‘unhealthy apple’.
“True justice requires structural change throughout our society to deal with racism and state violence and higher reply to psychological sick well being.”
Black Lives Matter UK described Monk’s sentencing as, “historic in that it recognises some stage of police wrongdoing”.
It mentioned: “It’s additionally arduous to think about that this verdict would have been reached with out the BLM motion final yr. However sending particular person violent officers to jail solely serves to legitimise the damaged logics of the prison punishment system. We don’t imagine in ‘unhealthy apples’ – the system is rotten to the basis.
“Atkinson was within the midst of a psychological well being disaster when he was killed; the police’s response was to make use of a stun gun on him for 33 seconds and repeatedly kick him within the head till he died.
“Of all deaths in or following police custody in England and Wales in 2019-20, 61 per cent of victims had been recognized as having ‘psychological well being considerations’. It’s evident that killings like Atkinson’s is not going to be prevented till individuals experiencing a psychological well being disaster obtain enough healthcare, relatively than policing.”
Vicki Nash, head of coverage, campaigns and public affairs at Thoughts, advised police coaching on de-escalation is “not match for function”.
She mentioned: “This landmark sentencing exposes the shameful undeniable fact that Black males constantly undergo and die by the hands of an outdated and unjust psychological well being system.
“Black males stay at an unacceptably increased threat of being Tasered, sectioned in a psychological well being disaster and being positioned in seclusion, bodily or chemically restrained once they attain this level.
“We urge the police to make sure they’re outfitted with the instruments they should make the correct name in tough conditions and count on this to be included within the Nationwide Police Chiefs’ Council evaluate into using Tasers. We additionally count on the UK authorities to prioritise responding to its session on the Psychological Well being Act and the NHS to urgently deal with racial inequality in its use.”
Derrick Campbell, Unbiased Workplace for Police Conduct regional director, mentioned: “PC Benjamin Monk has been held accountable for his actions that night time, which tragically ended the lifetime of Dalian Atkinson prematurely.
“Felony costs had been laid and in the end the jury have decided concerning the actions of PC Monk. There is no such thing as a doubt police do tough jobs in tough circumstances. They’re given extraordinary powers to make use of power, and the way in which they use power should be affordable and proportionate.
“The jury’s determination highlights the significance of impartial scrutiny when somebody dies following police contact.”
Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Particular Crime Division, mentioned: “From the medical proof it was clear that if not for the extreme power utilized by Benjamin Monk then Dalian Atkinson wouldn’t have died when he did.
“Monk forcefully kicked Mr Atkinson a minimum of twice to the top. The power used was unreasonable as a result of it was not essential to restrain and management Mr Atkinson who was susceptible on the bottom.
“The jury rejected any declare that Mr Atkinson’s demise resulted from affordable self-defence within the line of obligation.
“Policing is a tough job and officers deserve our respect, however they don’t seem to be exempt from the legal guidelines they uphold.”
Further reporting by Press Affiliation