Police officer charged with murder over taser death of footballer

A policeman has been charged with the murder of former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died after being tasered near his father's home in 2016.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the officer would be appearing in court in Birmingham on Thursday along with a colleague who has been accused of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Jenny Hopkins, from the CPS, said in a statement: "Following the death of Dalian Atkinson in Telford on 15 August 2016, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised a charge of murder against a West Mercia police constable.

"A second police constable, from the same force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm."

Speaking on behalf of the family of Atkinson, solicitor Kate Maynard said: "Dalian's family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died."

The case was referred to the CPS to consider potential charges by the police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Three West Mercia Police officers were interviewed twice under criminal caution and served with gross misconduct notices following Atkinson's death.

The 48-year-old, who also played for Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, died after police used a Taser electroshock weapon during an incident.

Relatives said Atkinson was suffering a number of health issues and had a weak heart when a the device was deployed in the early hours August 15, 2016.

He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital and medics were unable to save him.

At the time, West Mercia Police said officers were called amid concerns "for the safety of an individual".

The IOPC said its investigation gathered evidence which indicated that police contact with Atkinson involved the use of the weapon, followed by a period of restraint and other uses of force.

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