Former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson died after being verbally abused for 33 seconds and kicked in the head at least twice by an “angry” police officer, a murder jury heard.
West Mercia Police Officer, 42, Benjamin Monk, who denies the murder and manslaughter of the 48-year-old former soccer player, appeared today at Birmingham Crown Court along with 31-year-old colleague Mary Bettley-Smith on charges of assault.
Prosecutor Alexandra Healy opened the Crown’s case against Monk, indicted after a three-year investigation into Mr Atkinson’s death in Telford, Shropshire in 2016.
When he was incapacitated, he was allegedly kicked twice in the head by Monk, so hard that his shoe was stamped on the skull of the former soccer player.
Bettley-Smith is said to have hit the disabled Mr. Atkinson with a baton.
The court also heard today that Monk and Bettley-Smith were in a relationship at the time of Mr. Atkinson’s death.
West Mercia Police Officers Benjamin Monk (right) and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith arrive at Birmingham Crown Court where Monk is charged with the murder and an alternate charge of manslaughter of former soccer player Dalian Atkinson and Bettley-Smith assaulted Mr. Atkinson to have
Mr Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, died in Telford, Shropshire in 2016
Police were called to see Mr Atkinson’s father’s home after the former Premier League star, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, acted erratically outside the property.
Monk and Bettley-Smith attended the scene where Atkinson, who had serious health problems including end-stage kidney failure, was confronted while scolding him for being the “Messiah.”
Monk shot Atkinson twice with his taser, which proved ineffective before using the gun again. Judges were told that the default setting for a taser is a five-second phase – but Monk overrode that and held the trigger for a total of 33 seconds.
Atkinson, unarmed, fell to the ground where Monk kicked him at least two times on the forehead. Bettley-Smith is said to have hit him with her extendable baton when the two “angry” officers took care of him when he was “unresponsive and quiet” on the floor.
Quality control informed the court Tuesday that Mr. Atkinson, who had serious health problems including end-stage kidney failure, approached officers after they were called to a disturbance in Meadow Close, Telford, at around 1:30 a.m.
The prosecutor said Monk’s third use of a taser was “completely effective” causing neuromuscular incapacity in Mr. Atkinson before falling forward onto the street.
The attorney told the jury, “The default setting for a taser is a five second phase, but it is possible to override this by further pulling the trigger.
‘And Pc Monk pressed the shutter button more than six times as long as in a standard five-second phase.
West Mercia Police Officer Benjamin Monk arrives at Birmingham Crown Court to stand on trial
Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith arrives at Birmingham Crown Court for attacking former footballer Dalian Atkinson
“The taser was used for 33 seconds.”
The prosecutor added: ‘Pc Monk also joined Dalian Atkinson.
“He gave at least two kicks on Dalian Atkinson’s forehead, with enough force to leave the imprints of the lace pattern from the top of his boot on two separate areas of Mr. Atkinson’s forehead.”
Ms. Healy addressed Bettley-Smith’s alleged role, claiming that the younger officer hit Mr. Atkinson several times with her baton while he was on the floor.
The prosecutor added von Monk, “When Pc Monk kicked Dalian Atkinson in the head not just once but twice, he was not acting in self-defense or someone else’s defense.
‘He was no doubt angry that he had been terrified by this man.
“He chose to take the anger off Dalian Atkinson by kicking him in the head.
“His training will have taught him, and it is obvious that the head is a sensitive area.
“If Pc Monk Dalian Atkinson kicks in the head, prosecutors say he can only intend to cause really serious injuries.”
Mr Atkinson (left) was a successful professional footballer who played for Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995. His brother Kenroy (right) took part in today’s murder trial
The court heard that Mr. Atkinson was a successful professional footballer who played for Aston Villa between 1991 and 1995.
Ms. Healy told the court, “He has had a number of serious health problems in recent years.
He had high blood pressure and actually had a heart disease – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – a disease in which the heart muscles become unusually thick, which can make it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.
“He also suffered from end-stage kidney failure.”
Describing Mr. Atkinson’s behavior on the scene as disturbed and unpredictable, Ms. Healy said, “He yelled in the street, demanding to be allowed into his father’s house.
It woke up some of the neighbors, one of whom was so concerned that she called the police.
The two defendants were the two police officers who visited the scene in response.
Dalian Atkinson Tributes will be left outside Villa Park in 2016 shortly after news of his death became known
Police officers at the scene following the death in 2016 of Mr Atkinson who died of cardiac arrest
Dalian Anderson celebrates after a goal for Aston Villa against Ipswich Town in August 1992
‘Police Constable Monk was the more experienced officer and was armed with a taser. It was equipped with three taser cartridges as standard. Pc Bettley-Smith was armed with an extendable baton. ‘
After knocking on the door of the ex-soccer player’s father’s house, Monk tried to verbally abuse Mr. Atkinson, but it was ineffective, the court heard, possibly because the two probes were not properly attached.
Mr Atkinson then came out of the address and advanced to the end of the ride, prompting Pc Monk to insert a second taser cartridge in the direction of Mr Atkinson’s back, which was also ineffective.
Ms. Healy continued, ‘Dalian Atkinson then struck the glass panel in the top half of the door on his father’s address and had it smashed.
He did not enter the house and there was another confrontation between the officers and Dalian Atkinson.
“He had returned to the two officers who were being moved backwards away from him on the street.”
The Crown claimed that Mr. Atkinson was then the subject of an unlawful attack after a taser was used for the third time.
Ms. Healy told the court, “A number of Meadow Close residents witnessed this attack.
They believed that after Dalian Atkinson fell to the ground, he stopped responding and was silent. He was no longer a threat to the officers. Nevertheless, the two officers tackled him.
‘Pc Monk is charged with murder. You will want to examine this claim very carefully. A person is guilty of murder when he unlawfully – and by that I mean that he is not acting in self-defense – kills another person with the intent to kill him or her or to inflict serious bodily harm.
From left behind, former footballers Nick Barmby, Jamie Redknapp, Dalian Atkinson (circled) and from left in front Ray Parlor, Chris Waddle, Paul Ince and Gary Speed share a hot tub
Police were called to see Mr Atkinson’s father’s home after the former Premier League star, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield on Wednesday, was spotted sporadically outside the property
Former Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson held the 1994 League Cup with Atkinson
The two officers that night were on duty responding to an emergency call. In any case, they were confronted with a man who was clearly disturbed and unpredictable.
They were entitled to use appropriate force to defend themselves or to protect others. The public prosecutor did not criticize her behavior before the third taser cartridge was unloaded.
“However, when the use of that last cartridge was fully effective and Dalian Atkinson experienced this neuromuscular disability and fell to the ground, prosecutors said there was no point continuing to press the taser for 33 seconds.”
The court heard that an ambulance had been called, but Mr. Atkinson, who had passed out and was unresponsive, fell into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was pronounced dead at 2:45 a.m.
Ms. Healy said, “The prosecution’s pathologists and critical care physicians agree that Dalian Atkinson had a greatly increased risk of death due to his basic health, if not the third taser and the kicks in his head. Dalian Atkinson would not have died that night.
The two defendants claim they have the right to use force on Dalian Atkinson while he was lying on the ground because he tried to stand up and they feared for their safety.
“Of course, if you listen to the evidence, you will take that into account with great care.”
The process continues.