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PC who used baton against Dalian Atkinson ‘seemed reluctant’

West Mercia PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is facing gross misconduct proceedings.

A probationary response officer accused of using “excessive force” against Dalian Atkinson “showed bravery under extreme pressure”, a disciplinary hearing has been told.

PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith is facing gross misconduct proceedings for allegedly using “excessive” force by hitting Mr Atkinson with a baton.

Mr Atkinson died after being kicked at least twice in the head by West Mercia PC Benjamin Monk, outside the victim’s father’s home in Telford, Shropshire, in August 15, 2016.

At the time Mr Atkinson had health issues, including heart problems and end-stage kidney failure, the disciplinary panel were told.

PC Monk, who had earlier tasered 48-year-old Atkinson to the ground before delivering the kicks, was later jailed for eight years in 2021, after his conviction at Birmingham Crown Court for manslaughter.

PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith was then a probationary response officer who attended the incident in the early hours of the morning in Meadow Close, alongside her colleague.

She was tried alongside PC Monk after she delivered three blows from her police-issue baton after Mr Atkinson had collapsed to the ground.

She was acquitted after a retrial in 2022.

The two officers had responded to a 999 call, arriving to find Mr Atkinson outside his father’s address, appearing “in the grip of a psychotic episode”.

Patrick Gibbs KC, representing PC Bettley-Smith, said: “She does not accept she misconducted herself grossly – or at all.

“She denies her conduct breached standards of professional behaviour, on a fair view of this sad but terrifying incident.

“Quite the contrary is true; she showed bravery under extreme pressure and was in no way responsible for the tragic outcome.”

After Mr Atkinson was Tasered to the ground, three eyewitnesses – all neighbours in the road who were woken after hearing a commotion – described what they saw.

Jean Jeffrey-Shaw, watching the incident from her bedroom window, said she watched Monk “stomping on Dalian’s head”, adding: “The female officer (Bettley-Smith) then took out her baton and began striking the fleshy part of his body, his thigh and buttock.

“I could not understand why because Dalian did not move, after he went to the ground.”

Mrs Jeffrey-Shaw described how later, PC Bettley-Smith tried to cuff the unmoving Mr Atkinson, but his “hands were limp, floppy and lifeless”.

She added: “The female officer appeared to be panicky and frightened, while the male officer looked calm, like he’d done this kind of thing before.”

Another neighbour said she saw PC Bettley-Smith “whacking the top of Dalian’s legs”. However she said it seemed to be “a reaction as though she was following his lead”.

She described how PC Bettley-Smith was delivering the strikes as “like a jerking motion – she seemed reluctant to do it – a draw-back and pause each time; three or four times.”

A third neighbour, Janet Lewis, said Bettley-Smith used “substantial force”.

“She appeared to be angry and this was clear from the strikes,” she said.

“Even with my window closed I could hear the impact of the strikes on the clothing of Dalian’s body.”

DC Julia Hiller had responded to PC Bettley-Smith’s emergency red button alarm activation. She said she sounded “frightened…afraid  as if she didn’t particularly want to speak, because she didn’t want to raise an alarm – or wherever she was, she couldn’t speak very loudly”.

During Monday’s sitting, Dijen Basu KC, bringing the case against PC Bettley-Smith, told the panel that she had struck Mr Atkinson up to six times including “to his back and the back of his legs, about three times” after he had been kicked by Monk, in an incident lasting about five minutes.

“None of these blows was reasonable, necessary or proportionate, in the circumstances, either to defend yourself or another from Mr Atkinson or to effect his lawful arrest,” he continued.

“All the blows were excessive.”

He stressed PC Bettley-Smith’s blow “did not in any away contribute to the death of Mr Atkinson”, adding the hearing was “not about the death of Mr Atkinson”.

Mr Basu said: “In any event we say the force she used was unreasonable.”

The hearing continues.

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