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Police officer charged with murder 3 years after former striker Dalian Atkinson's death

Cassandra Negley
Aston Villa's Dalian Atkinson celebrates a goal against Tottenham Hotspur.  (Photo by Steve Morton/EMPICS via Getty Images)
Dalian Atkinson, a former player for Aston Villa, died in August 2016. (Getty Images)

A police officer in England was charged with murder in the death of retired Premier League player Dalian Atkinson three years after the striker died.

Atkinson, a standout for Aston Villa, was restrained by police officers at his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire, on Aug. 15, 2016, per BBC. West Mercia Police said at the time they were called to the home “for the safety of an individual,” according to reports, and used a Taser on Atkinson.

He was suffering from health issues, including a weak heart, and went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance en route to the hospital. He died at the age of 48.

The officer appeared in court Thursday on murder charges, according to Birmingham Live, as did a colleague who is charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. Their identities have not been revealed due to an interim court order blocking it.

The officer charged with murder, who is referenced as Constable A, was taken into custody and not asked to give a plea, per Birmingham Live. The officer was also charged with “unlawful act manslaughter,” which the jury can consider if the initial charge isn’t proved.

The second officer, Constable B, pleaded not guilty and was granted bail, per the report.

The charges were made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which said in a statement, via Birmingham Live:

"This decision was made following a careful review of all the evidence presented to us by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following an investigation."

The IOPC said its investigation concluded in October 2018. A spokesperson for the Atkinson family also released a statement. Via ESPN:

"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."

According to the BBC’s Danny Shaw, the last time an officer was charged in the UK after the death of someone they were in contact with was five years ago. It is believed to be the first time, per Shaw, that an officer was charged after a person was Tasered. He said there are no released reports on if the Taser contributed to or caused Atkinson’s death.

Atkinson scored 25 goals in 87 appearances for Aston Villa between 1991-95. He’s best known for netting the goal of the 1992-93 season against Wimbledon. The striker earned one cap for England and played for Ipswich, Sheffield, Spain’s Real Sociedad, Manchester City and clubs in Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

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