A British police officer was allowed to keep her job on Friday after a disciplinary panel found her guilty of gross misconduct for unlawfully assaulting former professional footballer Dalian Atkinson, who died after another officer used a stun gun and kicked him in the head.
Police Mary Ellen Betley-Smith has been issued a written warning by an independent police disciplinary tribunal after she was found to have unlawfully struck the black former Aston Villa striker three times with her batons after her partner subdued him during an altercation in August 2016.
A West Mercia officer would have been stripped of her badges by the commission held in Telford after she had been acquitted in a criminal trial of causing bodily harm.
The police officer is guilty of Manslaug in the football star’s death
Prosecutor Dejen Basu said at the hearing that Betley Smith’s behavior was “really dangerous” but that she was on the sidelines of the event and her partner’s role was “several stages of varying magnitude”.
Officer Benjamin Monk is sentenced in 2021 to eight years in prison for manslaughter in Atkinson’s murder.
Monk claimed self-defense and said he feared for his life after Atkinson made threats and smashed a pane of glass.
Monk used the Taser on Atkinson for 33 seconds — more than six times longer than normal — and kicked him at least twice in the head, leaving boot marks on his forehead.
Police were called to Atkinson’s father’s home in Telford, central England, after neighbors reported a disturbance.
The commission found that Betley Smith, 33, initially legally used her bullshit to hit Atkinson three times. But the blows which occurred after Monk kicked him and reached the ground were “unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances, and therefore unlawful”.
Betley Smith claimed that she realized Atkinson was trying to get up, although witnesses said he was not moving.
Atkinson, 48, died about an hour later in hospital.
Solicitor Patrick Gibbs, who represented Betley Smith, said the six and a half years she had to think that night “must have been a great sentence in itself”. He said her behavior before and after the 27 seconds she landed the final three strikes was remarkable.
“This implies a miscalculation in the heat of the moment with the degree of force you still need to use now,” Gibbs said.
Atkinson’s sister said she was disappointed that Betley Smith did not lose her job.
A former footballer dies in the UK after police use a stun gun on him
“It broke our family, and it was absolutely shattered,” she said of her brother’s death. “At the end of the day, Dalian is gone and it is up to these officers.”
In December 2021, West Mercia’s Chief Constable apologized to the Atkinson family, saying they were very sorry.
“Police uniforms do not give officers immunity to act illegally or to abuse their powers,” Chief Pippa Mills wrote.
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Monck’s conviction was rare in Britain. An attorney for the Atkinson family said it was the first time in more than 30 years that a serving officer had been convicted of manslaughter in connection with their duties.
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