PC who killed Dalian Atkinson jailed
Benjamin Monk, 43, has been sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty last week of killing former Aston Villa player Dalian Atkinson.
The West Mercia Police constable tasered the victim for 33 seconds. When Mr Atkinson fell to the ground, Monk kicked him at least twice with such force that his bootlaces left an imprint on Mr Atkinson’s forehead.
On 23 June the jury at Birmingham Crown Court found him not guilty of murder but convicted him of the alternative charge of unlawful act manslaughter. The prosecution was brought by the CPS’s Special Crime Division, a unit of expert prosecutors specialising in complex cases.
Forensic pathologists gave evidence that the powerful kicks he received significantly contributed to Mr Atkinson’s death.
Neighbours had called the police in the early hours of 15 August 2016 when they heard Dalian Atkinson kicking his father’s door and shouting. Monk and a colleague, PC Ellen Bettley-Smith were the first on the scene.
The jury was discharged after being unable to reach a verdict on PC Bettley-Smith who was charged with causing actual bodily harm after striking Mr Atkinson with her police baton.
Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "From the medical evidence it was clear that if not for the excessive force used by Benjamin Monk then Dalian Atkinson would not have died when he did.
“Monk forcefully kicked Mr Atkinson at least twice to the head. The force used was unreasonable because it was not necessary to restrain and control Mr Atkinson who was prone on the ground.
“The jury rejected any claim that Mr Atkinson’s death resulted from reasonable self-defence in the line of duty.
“Policing is a difficult job and officers deserve our respect, but they are not exempt from the laws they uphold.”
Monk denied killing Mr Atkinson and said he used proportionate force to bring him under control after he behaved aggressively towards him.
Monk told Mr Atkinson that if he did not stop coming forward he would be tasered. The first two Taser attempts failed but the third was successful.
After tasering Mr Atkinson for 33 seconds, Monk kicked him twice in the head when he was on the ground.
Giving evidence in his defence Monk said when Dalian Atkinson fell onto the road he was conscious and trying to remove the Taser barbs from his chest and attempting to get up. Asked what he did next, Monk said “I kicked him”. He claimed he was aiming the kick at his shoulder.
Two other officers who arrived shortly afterwards recalled seeing Monk with his foot resting on Mr Atkinson’s head. Monk did not dispute doing so but said he had no recollection.
Rosemary Ainslie added: “Monk claimed he had exhausted all other options to control Mr Atkinson before kicking him in the head but admitted in the witness box that he did not make use of his baton or the synthetic pepper spray he carried.
“The expert called by the defence agreed that kicks to the head were not part of police training."
The prosecution argued Monk deliberately exaggerated Mr Atkinson’s size to make him seem more threatening as justification for the excessive use of force. He was in fact shorter and weighed less than Monk. Monk described him as running after him and claimed to be running for his life. The prosecution said Mr Atkinson was walking and at no point was he armed and nor did he touch the officer during the incident.
While giving evidence Monk said he did not think he had activated the Taser for 33 seconds and thought it was closer to five seconds. The prosecution showed that the trigger had been pressed for 33 seconds from data downloaded from the X26 Taser model.
Despite kicking him at least twice PC Monk said he did not intend to harm Dalian Atkinson. He maintained his actions were reasonable and necessary.
The compelling case put forward by the CPS resulted in the jury rejecting this defence and finding him guilty.
Notes to editors
- Rosemary Ainslie is Head of the Special Crime Division in the Crown Prosecution Service.
- Dalian Atkinson (21/3/1968 – 15/8/2016) was 48-years-old at the time of his death.
- The trial began on 4 May at Birmingham Crown Court.
- Benjamin Monk (DOB 15/05/1978) was charged with murder and an alternative count of unlawful act manslaughter. He was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter on 23 June. He joined West Mercia Police in 2002.