Police Officer Charged With Murdering Former Footballer Dalian Atkinson Is Named

A court order protecting the identity of two police officers charged after an inquiry into the death of Dalian Atkinson has been lifted by a judge.

Atkinson, 48, who played for Aston Villa, Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, died after police used a Taser near his father’s house during an incident in the Trench area of Telford.

Judge Simon Drew QC overturned the Contempt of Court Act order at Birmingham Crown Court, allowing the naming of West Mercia Police Constables Benjamin Monk and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, after submissions by media organisations.

Both officers were present at the hearing, at which their lawyers agreed that anonymity could not be justified, instead arguing that their home addresses should not be revealed in media reports.

Bettley-Smith is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. 

Monk is charged with murder and unlawful act manslaughter as an alternative offence which, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said, “is a lesser offence that a jury may consider if it first finds that the more serious charge has not been proved”.

The decision to charge both officers comes after the case was referred to the CPS to consider potential charges by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Dalian Atkinson played for Aston Villa, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday (Photo: Jon Nicholson/Mail On Sunday/Shutterstock)

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

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 a Taser, followed by a period of restraint and other uses of force.

Relatives said Atkinson was suffering a number of health issues and had a weak heart when he was Tasered. He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital and medics were unable to save him.

Speaking on behalf of the family of Atkinson, solicitor Kate Maynard, of Hickman and Rose, 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.”

A plea and trial preparation hearing has been set for December 9.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.