A police officer murdered former soccer star Dalian Atkinson, first shooting him with a Taser stun gun for 33 seconds and then kicking him in the head as if hitting a soccer ball, causing his head to back down violently, a jury heard Tuesday.
PC Benjamin Monk denies murder and manslaughter following the August 15, 2016 incident in Telford, Shropshire, which began at Atkinson’s father’s home.
Monk is also alleged to have fired an electric taser at Atkinson for nearly seven times longer than the standard five-second deployment.
Then, while Atkinson was on the ground and apparently unresponsive, the officer kicked him twice in the head with such force that the imprint of Monk’s shoelaces was left on Atkinson’s forehead, the Birmingham court heard.
One witness, the jury heard, said that police “just started ‘kicking the shit out of him.” The jury was told that Atkinson’s blood was found on Monk’s boots and after he was heard saying to a paramedic, “He may be a bit bloody because I had to kick him.”
Another officer, PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, which she denies. It is alleged that he struck Atkinson with a cane while he was on the ground. The jury heard that the officers were in a relationship.
Opening the prosecution’s case, Alexandra Healy QC told the jury that concerned neighbors had called the police around 1.30am, with Atkinson yelling and his behavior described as strange and erratic. Monk had used a Taser on Atkinson twice to no obvious effect. The former footballer broke a glass and was heard screaming that he was the Messiah and could not be hurt.
The jury heard that Monk fired the stun gun a third time, knocking Atkinson down on the street in front of his father’s house.
Healy said a neighbor, Victor Swinbourne, saw what happened: “He saw the Taser officer, the black man… When he fell, he collapsed, making no effort to prepare.
“The male officer immediately gave him a couple of light kicks in the torso area using the top of his right foot. Swinbourne described the kickoff kicks as provisional. He then saw the officer pull his right foot all the way back and give the black male a massive and powerful final kick, using the toe of his right foot as the male lay motionless on the ground.
“The officer’s leg went back and he moved forward like he was kicking a soccer ball. He described the movement as similar to the type of kick that would have been required to move a ball onto the field with significant force … He believed the kick was initially to the black man’s chest, but given the force of the impact, it seemed like the kick bounced. from the chest and hit him on the chin, because he saw that the black male’s head was thrown back. “
The jury was told that Swinbourne saw Atkinson in a fetal position on his right side, with officers sitting on him as they tried to handcuff him. They told the court that the neighbor heard that “the black man made horrible noises. He described the noise as distinctly short of breath, as if he couldn’t get air into his lungs. I was amazed at how strong she was. “
Another witness said he heard a male officer yell “keep your head down” before stomping on Atkinson’s head. The witness said Atkinson was not resisting.
The jury heard when another officer arrived at the scene “he realized that PC Monk had his right foot resting on Dalian’s head,” the prosecutor told the court. Monk was overheard by two fellow PCs, who arrived later, saying that he had kicked Atkinson in the head.
Healy said both officers would later say they had been feared for their lives and were so scared that at one point they had fled the man before boarding him.
Atkinson rose to fame as a forward for the Aston Villa football club in Birmingham. He retired from soccer in 2001.
Healy said: “PC Monk also proceeded to kick Dalian Atkinson. He kicked at least two kicks to Dalian Atkinson’s forehead with enough force to leave traces of the lace pattern on the upper part of his boot in two separate areas of Mr. Atkinson’s forehead.
“Several neighbors who live in Meadow Close witnessed this attack. His opinion was that once Dalian Atkinson had fallen to the ground, he was unresponsive and was still. He no longer posed any threat to the officers. However, the two officers got around him. “
Healy said Atkinson had underlying health problems, but the force used contributed to his death: “On the night of Sunday the 14th and the early hours of Monday, August 15, 2016, Dalian Atkinson’s behavior was disturbed and erratic.
“They faced a man who was clearly acting disturbed and erratic. They had the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves or protect others.
“The prosecution does not criticize his conduct before the discharge of the third taser cartridge.
“However, when the deployment of the third cartridge was fully effective, causing Dalian Atkinson to suffer neuromuscular incapacitation and fall to the ground, the prosecution says it was not reasonable to continue pressing the Taser for 33 seconds.
By kicking Dalian Atkinson in the head not once, but twice, PC Monk did not act, prosecutors say, in self-defense or in defense of another. He was undoubtedly angry that this man had scared him.
“He chose to take that anger out on Dalian Atkinson by kicking him in the head … By kicking Dalian Atkinson in the head, PC Monk could only have intended to cause a really serious injury.”
The jury was told that just over an hour after the use of force by the police, Atkinson was dead: “The pathologists and the intensive care expert trained by the prosecution agree that, while his health conditions underlying it meant that Dalian Atkinson had a much higher risk of dying, if it weren’t for the third Taser deployment and the kicks to the head, Dalian Atkinson would not have died that night. “
The trial continues.