Dalian Atkinson death: Campaigner welcomes police officer’s conviction

Bishop Desmond Jadoo, of the Justice 4 All Coalition, said the organisation welcomed the conviction of West Mercia Police constable Benjamin Monk at Birmingham Crown Court.

Mr Jadoo and friends of the retired sports star led a march and demonstration outside Telford’s Malinsgate Police Station after the incident happened five years ago.

He said: “It does demonstrate that no police officer should ever believe that they are above the law when it comes to their interaction with members of the black community and importantly, in this case, someone has been held to account for their actions which have contributed to the death of Dalian Atkinson.

“Although many may well have welcomed a murder verdict, this is a historic day as a police officer has been held to account for the death of someone that they have had an interaction with and use forced upon, in this case, Dalian.

“While we welcome this benchmark and historic verdict we must be clear that there is a sentencing process to take place which should be an appropriate sentence for the severity of what happened to Dalian,” Mr Jadoo said.

Monk was found guilty of the manslaughter of the former footballer but was cleared of his murder following a trial. He had Tasered then twice kicked Mr Atkinson star in the head in a confrontation in Meadow Close, Trench, Telford, on August 15, 2016.

On Thursday, the jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict on his colleague, Pc Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, who was accused of assaulting Mr Atkinson.

She told her trial she used necessary force to defend herself and others, but prosecutors claimed she had exaggerated the threat posed by former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star Mr Atkinson to “help” Monk’s attempt to justify excessive force.

At the time of the incident, Mr Jadoo said Mr Atkinson’s death had brought concerns about police actions to the fore.

“For a lot of people, there are issues around disproportionality, particularly about Afro Caribbean communities, when they come into contact with the police.”

He also said it was also vital that all officers carrying Tasers were fitted with body cameras, which has since been implemented by West Mercia Police force.

Also responding to the verdict Mark Winstanley, deputy chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Our thoughts today are with the family of Dalian Atkinson.

“This was a deeply upsetting case which shone a spotlight on the treatment of people experiencing a mental health crisis, specifically black men who are over four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

“While recognising that supporting someone in crisis can be challenging, Police officers must have both the skills and aptitude to resolve such situations safely.

“That aptitude was clearly missing in this case and was responsible for Dalian’s death. We must see action to address the systemic failures that can increase the risk of violence or serious injury to people in crisis to prevent this from ever happening again.”

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