A West Mercia Police officer has been acquitted of assault causing actual bodily harm on Dalian Atkinson following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
A jury found PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith not guilty of assaulting Mr Atkinson on 15th August 2016, at the end of a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
At a trial last year, PC Benjamin Monk was convicted of unlawful act manslaughter for the death of Dalian Atkinson and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.
PC Bentley-Smith was accused of striking Mr Atkinson with her ASP during an incident in August 2016.
Officers tasered Dalian after he reportedly threatened his elderly father in Telford. The officers had responded to a 999 call that Dalian’s family made.
Mr Atkinson was said to have been in a disturbed mental state – likely due to a build-up of toxins linked to renal failure.
His partner Karen Wright said he had mentioned “the messiah” on 14 August and removed a dialysis line, leaving him in constant pain.
He had also smashed a window at his father’s home.
Monk would go on to deploy three Taser cartridges, but after the first PC Bettley-Smith said “there was literally no reaction” from Mr Atkinson.
“All of this happened in such a quick amount of time,” she told jurors. “It’s hard to put into words all these years later, but it was terrifying. You have had a Taser fail.
“It was a very frightening experience. I think in my interview I said my life flashed before my eyes and that is still to this day a good representation of how I feel.”
The court heard she had only started as a probationary officer six months earlier.
Prosecutors had argued that PC Bettley-Smith, while not contributing to Mr Atkinson’s death, caused him actual bodily harm during the attempts to try and restrain him.
Jurors deliberated for just over three hours before acquitting PC Bettley-Smith.
IOPC regional director, Derrick Campbell, said:
“As part of our detailed investigation into the tragic events of 15 August 2016, we carefully examined the nature and level of force used by PC Bettley-Smith and whether it was in line with national policies and guidelines.
“Police officers are given extraordinary powers to use force, and the way they use force must be reasonable and proportionate.
“We analysed the sequence of baton strikes by PC Bettley-Smith to Mr Atkinson’s body when he was lying on the ground after he had been Tasered.
“After we presented our evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, it authorised the charge of actual bodily harm.
“It was important that the officer’s actions were brought before a court and the jury has now made its decision.”
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Seriously, six years?? Why on earth would ANY investigation take that long… was the Officer removed from duties? With/without pay? By all means hold Officers accountable, but to have an investigation hanging over you, likely blocking your career path, for that long is just insane and should itself be illegal… when exactly are the iopc going to be held to account?
Disgusting that this investigation should have gone on for so long. Equally disgusting that the other officer was prosecuted for manslaughter for doing his job!
The IOPC is not fit for purpose six years is a ridiculous length of time for any investigation