LONDON (AP) — A British police officer was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for the killing of Dalian Atkinson, a former professional soccer player who died after being Tasered and kicked in the head.
Benjamin Monk was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after jurors heard he left bootlace imprints on Atkinson’s forehead.
Monk, 43, claimed he acted in lawful self-defense as officers tried to subdue former Aston Villa star Atkinson, 48, during an altercation in August 2016. Police were called to Atkinson’s home in Telford, central England after neighbors reported disturbances. Monk told the court he had been afraid for his life after Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made threats and smashed a glass door pane.
Prosecutors said Monk used a stun gun for 33 seconds against Atkinson — more than six times longer than was standard — and kicked the soccer player at least twice in the head.
Atkinson died in the hospital around an hour after the incident.
It is extremely rare for police in Britain to be convicted of manslaughter or murder over deaths in custody or during contact with the public.
According to the charity Inquest, which supports the bereaved in cases of deaths involving the state, the last such conviction was in 1986. The group said Monk’s conviction is believed to be the first time a British police officer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a Black man.