The chief constable of West Mercia Police has formally apologised to the family of ex-footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died after being kicked in the head and tasered by an officer.
The former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, and Ipswich Town player died in hospital in 2016 after PC Benjamin Monk used excessive force while arresting him near his childhood home in Shropshire.
In June, Monk was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for eight years after jurors were told he had used a Taser on Atkinson three times and left two bootlace prints on the 48-year-old’s forehead.
One of the Taser discharges lasted 33 seconds – which is more than six times longer than the normal cycle.
‘A police uniform does not grant immunity’
The letter, seen by the PA news agency, is from the head of the police force, Pippa Mills, who took over from Anthony Bangham in September.
It stated that there was an “obligation” for her to write to the family to “acknowledge and accept” Atkinson’s rights were breached in this case due to the European Convention on Human Rights.
It read: “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.”
Ms Mills 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.”
She 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.”
Apology is ‘welcomed and overdue’
The family’s lawyer, Kate Maynard of Hickman and Rose solicitors, said the official apology is “welcomed and overdue”.
She said: “The chief constable’s acknowledgment that a police uniform does not grant immunity is especially pertinent in a year that has seen other terrible examples of deadly police violence.
“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.”
More on Monk’s conviction
Monk’s conviction is believed to be the first time in modern British criminal justice history that a UK police officer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a black man, according to Inquest, which supports the bereaved following state-related deaths.
He is also believed to be the first police officer in 35 years to be convicted of unlawful killing over a death in custody or following police contact in England or Wales.