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Police formally apologise to family of Dalian Atkinson after he died following arrest
27 December 2021, 11:00 | Updated: 27 December 2021, 11:07
Police have formally apologised to the family of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died after being kicked in the head and tasered by an officer.
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Pc Benjamin Monk used excessive force in kicking the 48-year-old in the head at least twice, hard enough to leave two bootlace prints on his forehead.
He also fired a taser three times including a single 33-second discharge.
Monk was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for eight years in June, the first time in three decades a British officer has been convicted of such a crime during the course of their duties.
Former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town player Atkinson died in hospital after losing consciousness following the arrest near his childhood home in Telford, Shropshire, in August 2016.
Chief constable of West Mercia Police, Pippa Mills, wrote to the family saying she is "deeply sorry".
She said due to the European Convention on Human Rights, there was an "obligation" for her to write on behalf of the force to "acknowledge and accept" that Atkinson's human rights were breached in this case.
The letter said: "A police uniform does not grant officers immunity to behave unlawfully or to abuse their powers.
"Ben Monk's conduct was in direct contradiction to the standards and behaviour of the policing service, and understandably undermined public confidence."
She added: "I am deeply sorry for the devastating impact the actions of a West Mercia officer has caused you and I extend my deepest condolences to you all, and Dalian's wider family and friends."
Ms Mills also said she recognised the incident was "devastating" for the family, adding: "I cannot imagine the immense pain you have felt and how the significant delays with the trial have also added to your burden of grief.
"You have demonstrated great strength and dignity throughout the past five years."
Ms Mills took over as the new head of the force from Anthony Bangham in September.
The family's lawyer, Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose solicitors, said in a statement the official apology is "welcomed and overdue".
"The chief constable's acknowledgement that a police uniform does not grant immunity is especially pertinent in a year that has seen other terrible examples of deadly police violence," she said.
"With the first conviction of a serving police officer on a manslaughter charge connected with his policing duties in over 30 years, it is hoped that this will serve as a deterrent, and also embolden those who seek police accountability."
West Mercia Police has been contacted for comment.