Inquest To Open This Week Into Death Of Dalian Atkinson

22 August 2016, 17:42 | Updated: 22 August 2016, 17:43

Taser Telford scene Dalian Atkinson

It's been revealed inquest will open later this week into the death of Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson.

The 48-year-old former sportsman died 90 minutes after a West Mercia Police officer Tasered him in the street where he grew up in Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours of August 15.

The Coroner for Shropshire is set to open the inquest at the Shirehall in Shrewsbury on Wednesday.

The retired striker's death is currently being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which said it would carry out "a full and thorough'' inquiry into the circumstances.

Two police officers with the West Mercia force are currently suspended pending a criminal investigation into Mr Atkinson's death.

Last Thursday, the IPCC announced that the officers were ``under criminal investigation'' and that they had also been served with gross misconduct notices.

The watchdog has said it will look into the level and type of force used during the incident.

The results of a post-mortem examination on Mr Atkinson were ``inconclusive'', according to investigators, and further tests have been ordered.

Relatives said Mr Atkinson was ``not in his right mind'', had been suffering a number of health issues and had a weak heart when he was hit with the weapon at about 1.30am.

He went into cardiac arrest in an ambulance on his way to hospital and medics were unable to save him.

IPCC Commissioner Derrick Campbell said: ``Having carefully considered the evidence gathered so far, we are undertaking a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Atkinson's death and the level and type of force used.

"Two police officers will be interviewed under criminal caution by IPCC investigators."

Mr Atkinson's family had welcomed the IPCC's announcement and expressed their desire for a "robust'' investigation.

In a statement released through charity Inquest, they said: "We are still in shock as to the circumstances in which Dalian died.

"We are determined to get justice for him, which means getting to the truth.

"We welcome the IPCC's decision that this will be a criminal investigation and emphasise their request that there should be no speculation in the media as to what happened to Dalian, as this could prejudice the criminal investigation and any potential prosecution.

"We ask that anyone with information about what happened to Dalian in the early hours of Monday August 15 2016 contacts the IPCC.

"We are looking to the IPCC to carry out a thorough and robust investigation that will ultimately provide transparency and accountability. Dalian's memory requires nothing less.''

Mr Atkinson's brother, Kenroy, 53, previously said the ex-Premier League star had undergone dialysis for kidney failure and was "in a manic state and depressed'' at the time of the incident.

He said his brother had attacked their 85-year-old father, Ernest, at his home before police were called to the scene.

West Mercia Police said officers were called amid concerns "for the safety of an individual" and then deployed the stun guns.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham has since offered his condolences to Mr Atkinson's family and said the force will "fully co-operate" with the investigation.

Mr Atkinson was a top-flight striker in the 1990s, starting his career at Ipswich Town, then playing for Sheffield Wednesday and Spanish side Real Sociedad before moving to Villa.

He scored 23 goals in 85 appearances for the Birmingham side between 1991 and 1995, before going on to play less successfully for teams including Turkish side Fenerbahce and Manchester City. He ended his playing career in South Korea in 2001.

Police use of Tasers, which are intended as a non-lethal weapon, went up slightly last year with 10,329 uses by forces in England and Wales, a 2% rise on the previous year.

However, of those, 19% (1,921) were discharges - a decrease of 3% from the previous year.