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  • A police officer has been charged with murder over the Taser death of ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson. 

A police officer has been charged with the murder of retired footballer Dalian Atkinson who died after being Tasered.
A police officer has been charged with murder over the Taser death of ex-Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson

The ex-Aston Villa striker, 48, was restrained by police officers at his father’s house in Telford, Shropshire, on 15th-August-2016.

A second police officer, also from the West Mercia Police force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.

Both have appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.

The Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) has not named the officers because it believes their defence will apply for them to remain anonymous.
Forensic officers at the scene Trench, Telford after the incident on the street Dalian Atkinson grew up in August 2016

An alternative charge of unlawful act manslaughter has also been put forward by the CPS for the officer charged with murder, known as “Officer A”.

He was remanded in custody after appearing before magistrates.

The second officer, “Officer B”, indicated she would plead not guilty and was bailed ahead of their next appearance at Birmingham Crown Court later.

In a later hearing at Birmingham crown court, the defendants were granted unconditional bail. The case was adjourned for a plea and trial preparation hearing on December 9.

The CPS made the decision to press charges following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Officers had been called to Atkinson’s father’s home, where they fired the Taser after being confronted by the raging 6ft 2in former striker

Solicitor Kate Maynard, representing the footballer’s family, said: 
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.
Mourners comfort each other at Dalian Atkinson’s funeral in 2016.

The officers from the West Mercia force learned of the charges yesterday morning before appearing at Birmingham magistrates court.

Police officers attended Meadow Close in Trench, Telford, where Mr Atkinson was detained outside an address at about 01:30 BST.

He was taken by ambulance to the Princess Royal Hospital where he later died.

It’s rare for a police officer to be charged with murder following the death of someone they were in contact with on duty.
Dalian Atkinson collapsed in the road after the Taser was fired

The last time this happened in the UK was five years ago, when Anthony Long, a retired Metropolitan Police firearms officer, was charged with the murder of robbery suspect Azelle Rodney.

He was shot dead in north-west London in 2005, but 10 years later Mr Long was acquitted.

The exact circumstances of Dalian Atkinson’s death haven’t been revealed and it is not known whether the Taser contributed to, or caused his death.

However, this is believed to be the first time an officer has been charged with murder after a person has been Tasered by police.

Relatives said the former footballer was suffering from a number of health issues and had a weak heart when the Taser was deployed.

Mr Atkinson started his career at Ipswich Town also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City, Aston Villa Fenerbahce and Real Sociedad during a career spanning 16 years.

He is best remembered for scoring the Match of the Day goal of the season in 1992-93 when he dribbled the ball from inside his own half before chipping the Wimbledon keeper from the edge of the penalty area.

He scored in Villa’s 3-1 1994 League Cup final victory over Manchester United and went on to net 36 times for the club in 114 appearances.

In a statement, West Mercia Police said:
Our thoughts continue to remain with the family and friends of Dalian Atkinson at this difficult time.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said it would not be appropriate to comment on the circumstances around Mr Atkinson’s death, but added he would ensure the officers in question
have the appropriate support throughout the forthcoming criminal justice process. Anthony said. 
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 IOPC said it appreciates the “patience” shown during their investigation, which concluded in October 2018.

Actions of a third police officer, who was also investigated over Mr Atkinson’s death, were not referred to the CPS, the watchdog added.

Judges ordered that the pair should not be named overs fears for their “right to life”. The third officer who was investigated will not face charges.

“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.”
Atkinson’s siblings decribed him as kind, caring, funny and cheeky, but before his death, relatives said he was ‘not in his right mind’

Atkinson’s siblings decribed him as kind, caring, funny and cheeky. But before his death, relatives said he was “not in his right mind” and was suffering from health issues, including kidney problems and a weak heart.

His brother Paul, 55, said Atkinson had been acting irrationally as he was too “scared to sleep” due to medication he was on following dialysis treatment.

There have been recent plans to arm more officers with Tasers following the death of PC Andrew Harper, 28, as he probed a suspected burglary in August.

Last month Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed up to 60 per cent of cops in England will be able to carry Tasers in a crackdown on violent crime.

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