07 November 2019 18:39
A police officer has been charged with murdering former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson. The England B star, who also played for Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town, died after being Tasered near his father's home in Telford in 2016. The Crown Prosecution Service announced on Thursday it was charged a West Mercia constable with murder. He has also been charged with manslaughter as an alternate charge. A second constable has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm.
The pair will appear at Birmingham Crown Court later today. CPS spokeswoman Jenny Hopkins said today: "Mr Atkinson's family has been informed. "This decision was made following a careful review of all the evidence presented to us by the Independent Office for Police Conduct following an investigation. "Criminal proceedings against the two police officers are now active and they have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings." The CPS has not named either officer, saying that there may be applications in court to suppress their identities. Speaking on behalf of the family of Mr 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. "They ask for their privacy to be respected and press for the criminal proceedings to progress without delay or obstruction." Mr Atkinson - remembered for scoring one of the greatest goals in Premier League history when he skipped through the Wimbledon defence before chipping the goalkeeper in 1992 - died in the early hours of August 15, 2016. Relatives said he had been suffering a number of health issues and had a weak heart when he was shot with a Taser. He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on the 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". Tributes flooded in at the time of the star's death. Current Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish said: "RIP Dalian Atkinson. Loved watching videos of him & always remember his great goal vs Wimbledon. My thoughts are with his family & friends." Atkinson began his career at Ipswich, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday. Real Sociedad bought him for £1.7m in 1990, making him the Spanish side's first ever black player. He returned to English football after one season, joining Aston Villa and becoming part of the side that beat favourites Manchester United 3-1 in the 1994 League Cup final. Atkinson also played in France for Metz, in Turkey for Fenerbache and in Saudi Arabia. He had a short loan spell at Manchester City in 1996-97. He retired in 2001.