Fans’ tribute to Taser-death footballer

Dalian AtkinsonImage copyright
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Dalian Atkinson played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday as well as Aston Villa

Aston Villa fans are planning to pay tribute to the club’s former striker Dalian Atkinson, who died after being shot with a Taser by police.

The weapon was used on the 48-year-old at his father’s house in Trench, in Telford, in the early hours on Monday.

He went into cardiac arrest on his way to hospital where he was pronounced dead. His death is being investigated.

Supporters will hold a minute’s applause during the club’s Championship game against Huddersfield later.

It will begin 10 minutes into the game at Villa Park as 10 was Atkinson’s shirt number, the club said.

‘Weakened heart’

Umbrellas will also be held up at various locations around the ground during the tribute to commemorate the moment a fan held an umbrella over Atkinson’s head after the Villa star celebrated scoring a memorable goal against Wimbledon in the 1992-93 season.

‘On his day he was unplayable’

Media captionDalian Atkinson’s 1992 goal of the season

Home Office statistics show there were 10,329 uses of Tasers by police in England and Wales in 2015, a 2% increase on the previous year.

In a statement, the UK chapter of Black Lives Matter said black people were three times more likely to have Tasers used on them in the UK today, and those with mental health issues were potentially more at risk.

“The increased use of Tasers by police forces in England and Wales has been commonly presented as a non-lethal alternative to the use of firearms. However, as the tragic death of Dalian Atkinson and at least 10 other such cases in England and Wales over the last decade show, all too often Taser use is fatal.”

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Dalian Atkinson opened the scoring in Aston Villa’s win against Manchester United in the 1994 League Cup final

Many of Atkinson’s former team-mates and clubs he played for have paid tribute to the ex-striker, described by former manager at Villa and Sheffield Wednesday Ron Atkinson as popular in the dressing room with “terrific ability”.

His death has been referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

West Mercia Police said it responded to a report expressing concern for the safety of an individual at about 01:30 BST on Monday.

Neighbour Paula Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat near Atkinson’s father’s house in Meadow Close said she saw officers shouting and kicking him before the Taser was deployed several times.

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Police were called to Meadow Close in Telford in the early hours of Monday morning

She told the Shropshire Star newspaper the former footballer had “seemed a bit, perhaps, inebriated”.

He was declared dead at 03:00 at Princess Royal Hospital, in Telford.

Mr Atkinson’s nephew, Fabian, said his uncle was having dialysis treatment for kidney problems which had weakened his heart.

He said it should be “mandatory” to deploy an ambulance when a Taser was going to be used.

West Mercia Police is not commenting further on the incident while the IPCC investigation is on-going.

The watchdog said “the level and type of force used” was one of the elements of its investigation into police contact with Mr Atkinson before his death.

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Dalian Atkinson’s nephew Fabian said an ambulance should be called when a Taser is going to be used

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