Six months after one of its officers was sentenced for the death of ex-Premier League footballer Dalian Atkinson, a police agency in western England formally apologised to his family on Monday.
In 2016, Atkinson, 48, died in a hospital about an hour after police officer Benjamin Monk fired three Taser shots at him, including one that lasted 33 seconds, then booted him twice in the head.
Monk was sentenced to eight years in prison in June for causing the death of the former Aston Villa midfielder, with the judge stating that the penalty was important to maintain public trust in the police.
Pippa Mills, who took over as chief of West Mercia Police in September, wrote to Atkinson’s family, expressing her “deep regret” for Monk’s actions.
“A police uniform does not exempt officers from acting improperly or abusing their authority,” she wrote in the letter.
Mills stated that it had a “duty” under the European Convention on Human Rights to “acknowledge and recognise” that Atkinson’s rights had been violated.
Kate Maynard, the family’s lawyer, said in a statement that the public apology was “welcomed and long overdue.”
“It is hoped that the first conviction of a serving police officer on a manslaughter charge related to his policing responsibilities in over 30 years will serve as a deterrence, as well as embolden those seeking police accountability,” she said.
After police were called to his father’s home in Telford, north of Birmingham, in August 2016, Atkinson’s heart stopped and he died in hospital.
Atkinson’s mental state “had suddenly and dramatically deteriorated,” according to the judge in Monk’s trial. Atkinson also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, and Real Sociedad in Spain.
However, after a six-week trial, the judge sentenced Monk, finding that the officer’s actions were excessive.
During the hearings, it was also revealed that Monk had been found guilty of gross misconduct twice before being reinstated.