A police officer has been charged with the murder of the former premiership footballer Dalian Atkinson, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
Atkinson, who played for Aston Villa and Manchester City, died aged 48 in 2016 following a clash with police outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire.
Two officers, both police constables, were facing charges, the CPS said. One officer has been charged with murder. Another officer would be charged with actual bodily harm, a CPS spokesperson said.
The incident was investigated by the police watchdog after officers from the West Mercia force used a Taser as they tried to detain Atkinson.
The watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service in October 2018 to consider whether any criminal charges should be brought.
Atkinson died at the Princess Royal hospital in Telford on 15 August 2016 following the incident.
The IOPC had previously said of its inquiry: “The investigation gathered evidence which indicates that police contact with Mr Atkinson involved the use of a Taser, followed by a period of restraint and other uses of force.”
Jenny Hopkins from the CPS said: “Following the death of Dalian Atkinson in Telford on 15 August 2016, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised a charge of murder against a West Mercia police constable. A second police constable, from the same force, has been charged with assault causing actual bodily harm. Mr Atkinson’s family has been informed.
“This decision was made following a careful review of all the evidence presented to us by the Independent Office for Police Conduct following an investigation.” The CPS said the officer charged with the murder of Atkinson had also been charged with manslaughter as an alternative offence.
Atkinson started his career at Ipswich Town and played for Sheffield Wednesday and Real Sociedad before moving to Villa.
At Villa he scored more than 20 goals in the top flight of English football between 1991 and 1995 before going on to play less successfully for teams including Fenerbahçe and Manchester City.
The two police officers will appear in court in Birmingham on Thursday.
Kate Maynard, solicitor for the Atkinson family, said: “Dalian’s family welcomes the decision to put the conduct of police officers before a jury but regrets that already more than three years have passed since Dalian died.
“They ask for their privacy to be respected and press for the criminal proceedings to progress without delay or obstruction.”