Ex-footballer killed in police Tasering

Dalian AtkinsonImage copyright
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Dalian Atkinson achieved most success at Aston Villa, but also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday

Former footballer Dalian Atkinson has died after being shot with a Taser by police at his father’s house.

Police said the weapon was deployed at about 01:30 BST in Telford, Shropshire after officers were called to a report of concern for a man’s safety.

A neighbour described seeing the former Aston Villa star, 48, being Tasered after “stumbling towards” the police.

Mr Atkinson was treated by paramedics but pronounced dead in hospital at about 03:00.

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He is best remembered for scoring the Match of the Day goal of the season in the 1992-93 campaign – the inaugural Premier League season. Memorably, the Villa star dribbled the ball from inside his own half before chipping the Wimbledon keeper from the edge of the area.

Paramedics said he went into cardiac arrest on his way to hospital. The death has been referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

His nephew, Fabian Atkinson, said his uncle was having dialysis treatment for kidney problems: “And obviously that’s inevitably why his heart was weaker.

“They need to, as soon as they deploy a Taser, they need to deploy an ambulance. As soon as, it should be mandatory.

“Because, how do they know, unnaturally putting volts through a body, how do they know they’re going to survive that, eventually, in the long run, that they’re not going to need any medical attention?”

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Police were called to Meadow Close in Telford in the early hours

Paula Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat near the Atkinson property in Trench, told the Shropshire Star she had witnessed the Taser being fired after hearing shouting.

“I stuck my head out the window to look out and I saw two police officers shouting at the gentleman and he sort of was stumbling towards them and the police officers warned him they would Taser him, but he just seemed a bit, perhaps, inebriated.

“And because he continued to step forward once or twice – non-threatening – they deployed the Taser,” she said.

“As the Taser hit him in the stomach he just went ‘doof’, down like a lead balloon.”

‘On his day he was unplayable’

Media captionDalian Atkinson’s 1992 goal of the season

Ipswich Town, where the footballer started his career, tweeted his death was “terribly sad news”.

Aston Villa, for whom the striker scored in the club’s 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup final, tweeted: “RIP Dalian Atkinson. You’ll never be forgotten!”

Villa legend Paul McGrath also tweeted his reaction, describing his former team-mate as a “huge part of the Villa family”, while former Villa winger Tony Daley described it as “devastating news”.

Former manager at Villa and Sheffield Wednesday Ron Atkinson said: “He was popular in the dressing room, had terrific ability and did it in the big games.”

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Tony Harris

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Dalian Atkinson is pictured here with his namesake and then club manager Ron Atkinson after Villa’s 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup final

West Midlands Ambulance Service crews called by West Mercia Police arrived to find a man had been Tasered.

“As he was being conveyed to Princess Royal Hospital, his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest,” a spokesman said.

“Despite the efforts of the crew and hospital staff, it was not possible to save him and he was confirmed dead at hospital, shortly after arrival.”

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Ipswich Town

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Atkinson started his career at Ipswich Town, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday, Real Sociedad, Aston Villa and Fenerbahçe

Neighbours Tina and Matthew Bothwell told BBC News their son had heard “a bang and shouting” outside on Sunday night but thought nothing of it.

“We woke up just before seven, and saw all the police outside and police just said it’s all cordoned off,” Mr Bothwell said.

Ms Bothwell said they had been told “someone had been Tasered and passed away”.

Mr Bothwell, 43, said the former striker was a popular visitor to the neighbourhood.

He said: “Every time he would come he would have crowds around him. It’s a close-knit community.

“I just can’t bear to think what his family are going through.”

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Footballers past and present have been reacting to the death of Dalian Atkinson

Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Mercia force John Campion said his thoughts were with the former footballer’s family.

He added: “It is an important part of my role to hold the police to account.

“I want to be absolutely clear and reassure our communities that I will be doing that fairly and proportionately with regard to this incident once the full facts are available.”

In a statement, the IPCC said “a full and thorough investigation” was taking place.

“At this stage the IPCC is aware a Taser was used on the man before he became ill,” it said.

“IPCC investigators are at the scene gathering the available information and are attending the post-incident procedures to supervise the recovery of initial evidence.”

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