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Former Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson died after being tasered three times and kicked at least twice to the head by an “angry” police officer, a jury heard on Tuesday at the start of a murder trial.
Birmingham Crown Court in central England was told that West Mercia Police Constable Benjamin Monk denies the murder and manslaughter of Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday.
Prosecutor Alexandra Healy alleged that Atkinson, who was 48, was tasered for 33 seconds – more than six times the standard five-second duration – in the incident in 2016.
She told the court that the footballer, who had serious health problems including end-stage renal failure, moved towards the officers after they were called to a disturbance in the town of Telford, 30 miles (50 kilometres) from Birmingham, at about 1:30am on August 15, 2016.
Healy said the third deployment of a Taser by Monk was “completely effective” and caused Atkinson neuro-muscular incapacitation before he fell forwards onto the road.
The lawyer told the jury: “The standard default setting of a Taser is a five-second phase, but it is possible to override that by continuing to depress the trigger.
“And PC Monk continued to depress the trigger for over six times the length of a standard five-second phase. The Taser was deployed for 33 seconds.”
She added: “PC Monk also proceeded to kick Dalian Atkinson.
“At least two kicks were delivered by him to Dalian Atkinson’s forehead with enough force to leave the imprints of the pattern of the laces from the top of his boot on two separate areas of Mr Atkinson’s forehead.”
Monk’s colleague, Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, 31, is also facing trial, charged with assault. She has pleaded not guilty.
Healy described the behaviour of Atkinson, who was demanding to be let into his father’s house, as disturbed and erratic.
The prosecutor added of Monk: “In kicking Dalian Atkinson in the head not once, but on two separate occasions, PC Monk was not, the prosecution say, acting in self-defence or in defence of another.
“He was no doubt angry that he had been put in fear by this man. He chose to take that anger out on Dalian Atkinson by kicking him in the head.”
The prosecution alleges that Atkinson was the subject of an unlawful attack after a Taser was used for a third time against him.
“They were entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves or protect another,” said Healy. “The prosecution do not criticise their conduct prior to the discharge of the third Taser cartridge.
“However, when the deployment of that last cartridge was completely effective, causing Dalian Atkinson to experience that neuromuscular incapacitation and fall to the ground, the prosecution say it was not reasonable to continue to depress the Taser for 33 seconds.”
The trial is due to last for at least six weeks, jurors were told during selection last week.
The case has touched off a debate about the use of stun guns in a country where police rarely carry firearms.