A British police officer was allowed to keep his job on Friday after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of gross misconduct for illegally clubbing former professional soccer player Dalian Atkinson, who died after being stun gunned by another officer. was used and kicked in his head.
An independent police disciplinary tribunal handed Constable Mary Ellen Betley-Smith a written warning after it found she struck the black former Aston Villa striker three times with her baton after being subdued by her partner during an altercation in August 2016. was killed illegally.
A West Mercia officer could have been stripped of his badge by a panel convened in Telford after being acquitted of a criminal trial for causing bodily harm.
Police officer convicted of murder in soccer star’s death
Prosecutor Dijen Basu said during the hearing, Betley-Smith’s conduct was “really serious”, but she was on the periphery of the incident and her partner’s role was “different at several stages”.
Constable Benjamin Monk was sentenced in 2021 to eight years in prison for Atkinson’s murder.
Monk claimed self-defense and said he feared for his life after Atkinson made threats and broke the glass in the door.
Monk used a Taser on Atkinson for 33 seconds—six times longer than the standard—and kicked him in the head at least twice, leaving bootleg marks on his forehead.
Police were called to Atkinson’s father’s Telford home in central England after neighbors reported a disturbance.
The panel found that 33-year-old Bettley-Smith initially legally used his baton to strike Atkinson three times. But the shocks that occurred after Monk was kicked and fell to the ground were “unnecessary, disproportionate and inappropriate in all the circumstances and were therefore illegal.”
Betley-Smith claimed that he felt Atkinson trying to get up, although witnesses said he was not moving.
Atkinson, 48, died at the hospital about an hour later.
Attorney Patrick Gibbs, who represented Betley-Smith, said the 6 1/2 years he had to reflect on that night “should in itself be a significant sentence.” He said that his conduct before and after 27 seconds when he took the last three blows was commendable.
“It involves a miscalculation in the heat of the moment in degrees of force that still needed to be used,” Gibbs said.
Atkinson’s sister said she was disappointed Betley-Smith did not lose her job.
Former UK soccer player dies after police use Taser on him
She said of her brother’s death, “Our family is shattered by this, absolutely shattered.” “At the end of the day, Dalian is gone and it’s up to those officials.”
In December 2021, the chief of West Mercia police force apologized to Atkinson’s family, saying he was deeply sorry.
Chief Pippa Mills wrote, “Police uniforms do not give officers immunity to behave unlawfully or abuse their powers.”
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Monk’s conviction was rare in Britain. A lawyer for Atkinson’s family said it was the first time in more than 30 years that a serving officer had been convicted of manslaughter in connection with his duties.
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