07 May 2021

Dalian Atkinson ‘confused and agitated’ before being Tasered, court told

07 May 2021

Dalian Atkinson went to the ground “like a ton of bricks” when he was Tasered, moments before he was kicked by a police constable, an eyewitness has told a murder trial jury.

Julia Shilton told the trial of PCs Benjamin Monk and Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith the ex-Aston Villa star changed from appearing confused to an intimidating stance before he was brought to the ground by a Taser near his father’s home in Meadow Close, Telford, Shropshire.

Monk, 42, denies murder and manslaughter, while Bettley-Smith, 31, denies assaulting the retired footballer using a police baton in the early hours of August 15, 2016.

Les Sealey (PA Archive)

Mrs Shilton, who witnessed the alleged killing from the window of her home, told Birmingham Crown Court she heard what sounded like an argument and then a police officer shouting to a man to get on the ground.

The witness said of Mr Atkinson: “At that point he was moving up and down the driveway not really at any speed. He was almost ambling, as if he didn’t know what he was doing.

“As he was pacing, it was as if he didn’t really know what he wanted. It was a confused sort of pacing.

“He looked agitated, that’s the sort of feeling I got.”

The female officer at the scene kept looking towards the end of the close, as if she was waiting for back-up, while the male officer seemed reluctant to confront Atkinson, Mrs Shilton told the jury.

After hearing the 48-year-old former Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town player hammering on his father’s door, the witness said there was the sound of breaking glass.

She added: “The male police officer told him to get down on the ground a couple of times.

“Mr Atkinson didn’t and he turned towards the officer and he sort of made his manner like a bit more menacing.

“At that point the officer drew something in his hand and I hoped it wasn’t a gun.

“I just thought it was a Taser and I heard a crackling sound… but Mr Atkinson was still stood there.

“I was almost sure I heard this crackling noise but when nothing happened, I thought I hadn’t heard right.

“Then I heard a crackling noise and the officer had obviously brought the Taser up again and fired again.

“At that point Mr Atkinson fell down to the ground. In layman’s terms, like a ton of bricks. He just went down.”

Mrs Shilton said a parked 4×4 meant she could only see the lower half of Mr Atkinson after he fell into the road.

“There was no movement (from him) whatsoever,” she told the court. “The male officer approached Mr Atkinson and just looked at him and then he just started kicking him.”

Dalian Atkinson death (PA Wire)

During cross-examination by Patrick Gibbs QC, Mrs Shilton said there were “maybe five or six” kicks, but added: “I really don’t know, I wasn’t counting the kicks. I couldn’t believe what I had seen to be honest.”

Earlier, another eyewitness told the court he had seen two kicks.

Victor Swinbourne, who also watched the events from the window of his home, said: “I saw a middle-aged gentleman facing my direction with a red dot on his chest, and I saw a male police officer with a Taser in his hand.

“I think I heard him (Atkinson) say ‘10,000 volts is nothing to me’.”

Mr Swinbourne also recalled hearing a sound like someone breaking a window, before two police officers backed away from Mr Atkinson while telling him to put his hands up and stand still.

The witness went on: “He said ‘I am the Messiah. You will remember this day.'”

Mr Atkinson did not put his hands out to break his fall as he was Tasered for what appeared to him to be a second time, Mr Swinbourne said.

He added: “As soon as he went down they both went in. I think the male may have been slightly first.

“I saw the male (officer) kick him a couple of times. He lifted his leg up and as he kicked him, he kicked him in his torso area.

“I remember that he kicked him in the chest and I remember it sort coming off his chest… and moving his head back.”

“It was a long time ago, however I would say the first one was probably with a bit more force than the second.”

The trial continues.

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