In Depth

What happened to Dalian Atkinson?

Police officer charged with murder of ex-Aston Villa striker

An officer from West Mercia Police has been charged with murder over the death of former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson three years ago.

The 48-year-old ex-striker died after being tasered in an incident at his father’s house in Telford, Shropshire.

The unnamed police constable has also been charged with unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence.

Another officer from the same force has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

Both suspects are due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

“Neither officer has been named as it is understood an application for anonymity will be made when they appear in court later today,” says The Telegraph.

What happened to Atkinson?

Police were called to his father’s house in the Telford suburb of Trench shortly before 2am on Monday 15 August 2016. A Taser was used on Atkinson and he subsequently became ill.

He was taken to the Princess Royal Hospital in an ambulance but then went into cardiac arrest and died.

“His family later revealed that he had been suffering from kidney problems which may have weakened his heart,” says The Telegraph.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) - known as the Independent Police Complaints Commission at the time - immediately launched an investigation into the circumstances of his death.

A post-mortem was held on 17 August 2016 but the results were inconclusive.

The case was subsequently referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in October 2018.

A spokesperson for the Atkinsons this week welcomed the decision to put the officers before a jury but said the family “regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died”.

West Mercia’s Chief Constable Anthony Bangham 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.”

The IOPC said that the actions of a third officer had been investigated but were not referred to the CPS.

The watchdog’s regional director, Derrick Campbell, 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”.

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