'Police cannot be above the law': Reaction after police officer is jailed over death of Sheffield Wednesday striker
A charity which supports the bereaved following state-related deaths has reacted to the jailing of a police officer – saying they cannot be above the law.
PC Benjamin Monk was jailed for eight years yesterday after being found guilty of the manslaughter of former Owl Dalian Atkinson.
The 43-year-old tasered Mr Atkinson after being deployed to a disturbance involving the former footballer in 2016.
Mr Atkinson, who played for the Owls in the 1989/90 season, was tasered for 33 seconds and kicked in his head while he was on the ground, jurors heard.
He then suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest.
Monk, who has 14 years’ policing service, is the first officer to be convicted of manslaughter during the course of his duties in over three decades.
Deborah Coles, director of the Inquest charity, which supports the bereaved following state-related deaths, said: “This is the first manslaughter conviction of a police officer for over three decades.
“Police cannot be above the law, but for too long they have acted with impunity following deaths.
“Dalian was subject to dehumanising and excessive police violence, whilst in need of protection. It is shameful that the family have had to wait over five years for this.
“Dalian’s death is not an isolated case, nor is this officer a ‘bad apple’. True justice requires structural change across our society to address racism and state violence, and better respond to mental ill health.”
Derrick Campbell, regional director of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, said: “PC Benjamin Monk has been held accountable for his actions that night, which tragically ended the life of Dalian Atkinson prematurely.
“Criminal charges were laid and ultimately the jury have made a decision about the actions of PC Monk.
“There is no doubt police do difficult jobs in difficult circumstances.
“They are given extraordinary powers to use force, and the way they use force must be reasonable and proportionate.
“The jury’s decision highlights the importance of independent scrutiny when someone dies following police contact.”
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones, of West Mercia Police, said: “I want to say again to Dalian’s family and friends, I am sincerely sorry for his death and for the tragic circumstances in which he died.”