On August 15, 2016, PC Benjamin Monk fired a stun-gun at Dalian Atkinson—a known football player for the likes of Manchester City and Aston Villa—for 33 seconds, and kicked him in the head twice as he lay on the ground.
Police had responded to a call after it was claimed that Atkinson had threatened to kill his father. At the scene, Monk deemed Atkinson to be a threat and a danger to life, and stated that he was acting in self-defense. However, his actions superseded police standard procedure over six times what it should have been when he stunned Atkinson, ultimately killing him.
According to Monk’s account, he ran after Atkinson in a panic after he appeared to have a mental health crisis, made death threats, and shattered a glass door.
Monk’s statements were refuted in the trial, as he was accused of lying in court—the boots worn by Monk contained the blood of Atkinson on the laces, proving the kicks to Atkinson’s head were beyond reasonable force.
Atkinson had numerous underlying health conditions and went into cardiac arrest shortly after being taken to hospital, but died shortly after.
After a lengthy six-week trial, jurors took just over 18 hours to reach unanimous verdicts on Monk, who had 14 years of service under his belt at West Mercia Police before the altercation.
Monk now holds the title of the first police officer in England or Wales to get charged with murder or manslaughter since the 1980s.
Throughout Atkinson’s career, he played for ten clubs, spanning across seven countries. He was a top goal-scorer for Ipswich Town and Aston Villa, where he famously scored a “wonder goal” in 1992, having glided through the heavy Wimbledon opposition and landed with a chipped finish.
“He had a huge impact,” former teammate Luis Dadíe said. “It was absolutely marvellous watching him; he left us open-mouthed. Dalian was a modern player: direct, so fast, he could run with the ball, carry it, take people on. It was incredible. In our age, we hadn’t really seen players like that. These days, that would be pure gold.”
Rest in peace, Dalian Atkinson.