It has been sadly reported this morning that former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson has died after being tasered by police close to his home in Telford.
Full details of this incident have not yet been released, however, shortly after 1.30am this morning (15.08.2016) West Mercia police confirmed that officers fired a taser at a man after responding to reports of concerns for the safety of an individual in the town.
It is reported that the ambulance service was called to the scene but Mr Atkinson sadly failed to respond to medical attention and was pronounced dead 90 minutes later.
As is correct and normal procedure with this type of incident it was automatically referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and an independent investigation into the death of Dalian Atkinson has been confirmed.
When a death involves or is suspected to be caused by police officers the IPCC takes over conduct of the investigation. This process is to ensure that there is a fair, open and independent investigation for all interested parties involved.
The IPCC will now take steps to ensure that evidence is gathered as quickly and as accurately as possible. This could involve separating officers so that statements can be taken, gathering CCTV within the area and liaising with emergency services to track and timeline events leading up to the death.
The IPCC are due to release a statement on Dalian Atkinson’s death shortly and their initial response will attempt to reassure the public that a full and prompt investigation is to be carried out, and to request that anyone who has information into the incident do come forward urgently.
The use of tasers is intended as a non lethal weapon used by the police as an aid to restrain or detain a person. The police use of tasers rose slightly in 2015 with 10,329 uses by forces in England and Wales – a 2% increase compared with 2014.
The fact that an assumed healthy young man has died as a result of the use of a taser which is intended as a non lethal weapon will raise a number of concerns. This, teamed with the fact that the death has arisen as a result of police intervention will mean an Inquest into the death of Dalian Atkinson should be inevitable.
The death will be reported to HM Coroner and an Inquest should be called to determine the events which led to Mr Atkinson’s death. This inquest will seek to ascertain the medical cause of death and how Mr Atkinson died. The inquest is likely to explore the police intervention surrounding Mr Atkinson’s death, the use of a non lethal weapon, and will seek to determine if this was an appropriate use of force by Mercia police in the circumstances.
Under the European Convention on Human Rights everyone has the right to life under Article 2. Article 2 says that the state must not take someone’s life, except in very limited circumstances, and it imposes a duty on the state to protect life, so if life is taken there must be a proper and thorough review of how someone died through an Inquest. An example of an article 2 inquest includes where an individual has died as a result of the use of lethal force by state agents (such as police officers). This type of inquest is required to be in many ways, more thorough and far-reaching than inquests into deaths that do not engage this duty.
This is a complex area of law and if you have questions about whether this applies to your relative’s death you should seek advice from a solicitor.
If you have recently lost a loved one and have been informed that an Inquest will be called our Inquests department are available to offer you the advice and support you need. Our solicitors will do everything in our power to assist you at this extremely difficult time and to ensure the inquest delivers the answers you require, which may go some way to assisting you in dealing with your grief.
To arrange a free initial consultation with a specialist inquest solicitor call Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or submit an enquiry online.