Dalian Atkinson had a number of underlying health conditions including heart disease and kidney failure. Photo: BBC
Police have sent a written apology to the family of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson, six months after an officer who tasered him and kicked him in the head was jailed for manslaughter.
West Mercia’s Chief Constable Pippa Mills said she was “deeply sorry”.
“A police uniform does not grant officers immunity to behave unlawfully or to abuse their powers,” she wrote.
BBC reports that PC Benjamin Monk’s conviction was the first for a death in custody in 30 years.
The family of Mr Atkinson, a former Premier League star with Aston Villa, had said the case showed the need for change in the way black people were treated by police and the criminal justice system, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Ms Mills only took over as chief constable of West Mercia Police in September, three months after the legal proceedings ended.
In her letter to the family, she said that due to the European Convention on Human Rights, there was an “obligation” for her to “acknowledge and accept” on behalf of the force that Mr Atkinson’s human rights were breached.
“Ben Monk’s conduct was in direct contradiction to the standards and behaviour of the policing service, and understandably undermined public confidence,” she said.
The chief constable 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.”
Mr Atkinson, who was suffering from a serious illness that had affected his physical and mental health, died in hospital in 2016 after he was arrested outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire.
The former footballer was in the midst of a mental breakdown and had been shouting outside his father’s house claiming to be the Messiah, neighbours reported at the time.
Monk used his taser on the 48-year-old for 33 seconds and kicked him as he lay in the street, hard enough to leave bootlace prints on Mr Atkinson’s forehead. The judge at Monk’s trial described his actions as an “obvious” use of excessive force.