Dalian Atkinson: Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct for using excessive force against ex-Aston Villa player | UK News – Reported Crime

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A police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct for using excessive force after she repeatedly struck former Aston Villa player Dalian Atkinson with a baton, a disciplinary panel has found.

The tribunal found on Friday that PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, a West Mercia officer, acted wrongly when she struck Mr Atkinson three times during an incident on 15 August, 2016, in which the former footballer later died.

PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith arriving at Birmingham Crown Court
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PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith outside Birmingham Crown Court last September

Mr Atkinson died after being kicked at least twice in the head by PC Bettley-Smith’s more experienced colleague, PC Benjamin Monk, outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire.

Mr Atkinson had been tasered to the ground before he was kicked and then PC Bettley-Smith used her police-issue baton claiming she “perceived” he was trying to get up.

Eyewitnesses said the 48-year-old former player was “not moving” and “was not resistant”.

The tribunal found three initial strikes before Monk kicked Mr Atkinson were “lawful”, but it found PC Bettley-Smith’s decision to then hit him a further three times – after police back-up had arrived – was “unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable”.

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West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk was found guilty of the manslaughter of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson
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Benjamin Monk was found guilty of the manslaughter of Dalian Atkinson

Monk was jailed for eight years in 2021 after he was convicted of manslaughter by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court.

His conviction is believed to be the first time in modern British criminal justice history that a UK police officer was found guilty of the manslaughter of a black man, according to Inquest, which supports the bereaved following state-related deaths.

PC Bettley-Smith was last year cleared of assaulting Mr Atkinson after a trial – but the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found there was a gross misconduct disciplinary case to answer for her use of force.

Karimulla Khan, chairman of the panel, said on Friday the three baton strikes by PC Bettley-Smith were “unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances and were therefore unlawful”.

The panel is now set to hear evidence on whether the 33-year-old, who was a probationary officer at the time of the incident, should be allowed to keep her job or face a lesser sanction.

Patrick Gibbs KC, representing PC Bettley-Smith, said: “The six and a half years… must be a significant punishment in itself and there will have been a long time of reflection for what happened on that night.”

He said the conduct of the police officer, a University of Hull graduate originally from Staffordshire, “had, until that moment, been admirable” and that her unlawful baton strikes had occurred in the space of a 27-second period.

“This involves a miscalculation in the heat of moment in the degree of force which still now needed to be used,” he added.

Dalian Atkinson: Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct for using excessive force against ex-Aston Villa player | UK News

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