A police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct for using excessive force after he repeatedly struck former Aston Villa player Dalian Atkinson with a baton, a disciplinary panel has found.
An independent disciplinary tribunal found that PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith, a West Mercia police officer, acted improperly when she struck Atkinson three times with her police baton, during an incident in the early hours of August 15, 2016 in which the ex-Villa player later died.
Atkinson died after being kicked in the head twice by PC Bettley-Smith’s more experienced colleague, PC Benjamin Monk, outside the victim’s father’s home in Telford, Shropshire.
After Atkinson was thrown to the ground and kicked in the head, PC Bettley Smith, 33, used her police baton on him claiming she “sensed” him trying to get up, although several civilian witnesses recalled the 48-year-old. . he “didn’t move” and “didn’t resist.”
While the panel found that three initial punches, before Monk’s kicks, were “legal”, it found that PC Bettley-Smith’s decision to then punch Atkinson three more times, after police backing arrived, was “unnecessary, disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances.” and therefore illegal.
Monk was jailed for eight years in 2021 after his conviction at Birmingham Crown Court for manslaughter.
PC Betley-Smith was cleared of assaulting Atkinson after a trial, but the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found there was a serious misconduct disciplinary case to answer for her use of force.
While the panel found that three initial punches, before Monk’s kicks, were “legal”, it found that Bettley-Smith’s decision to then punch Atkinson three more times, after police reinforcements arrived, was “unnecessary.” , disproportionate and unreasonable in all the circumstances and therefore illegal”.
The panel is now set to hear evidence on whether the 33-year-old woman, who was a trial officer at the time of the incident, should be allowed to keep her job or face a lesser penalty later on Friday.