A police constable is facing the sack after being found guilty by a disciplinary panel of gross misconduct for using excessive force when she repeatedly hit an ex-footballer with her baton after he was Tasered to the ground.
An independent tribunal found on Friday that Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, a West Mercia Police officer, acted wrongly when she struck Dalian Atkinson three times with her police-issue baton during an incident in the early hours of August 15 2016 following which the ex-sportsman later died.
Former Aston Villa striker Mr Atkinson died after being kicked at least twice in the head by Ms Bettley-Smith’s more experienced colleague, Pc Benjamin Monk, outside the victim’s father’s home in Telford, Shropshire, six-and-a-half years ago.
After Mr Atkinson was Tasered to the ground and kicked in the head by Monk, Ms Bettley-Smith used her baton on him, claiming she “perceived” he was trying to get up, although several civilian witnesses recalled the 48-year-old “was not moving” and “was not resistant”.
Monk was jailed for eight years in 2021 after his conviction at Birmingham Crown Court for manslaughter.
Ms Bettley-Smith – known as Ellie – was cleared of assaulting Mr Atkinson after a trial, but the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found there was a gross misconduct disciplinary case to answer for her use of force.
While the panel found three initial strikes – before Monk’s kicks – were “lawful”, it found Bettley-Smith’s decision to then hit Mr Atkinson another three times, after police back-up arrived, were “unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances and therefore unlawful”.
The panel is now set to hear evidence on whether the 33-year-old, who was a probationary officer at the time of the incident, should be allowed to keep her job or face a lesser sanction later on Friday.