Dalian Atkinson verdict must be a 'watershed moment' for police to show black lives matter
‘The multiple and sustained Taser shocks used against Dalian Atkinson were part of a toxic cocktail of abusive and discriminatory policing’ - Oliver Feeley-Sprague
Black people eight times more likely to be Tasered in UK
Responding to today’s finding by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court that West Mercia police officer Benjamin Monk was guilty of manslaughter in relation to the 2016 death of the former professional footballer Dalian Atkinson after firing a Taser for 33 seconds and kicking Atkinson twice in the head as he lay on the ground, Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s policing expert and member of the independent advisory group to the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on Tasers, said:
“This distressing case must be a major wake-up call over how Tasers are being used and abused by the police.
“The multiple and sustained Taser shocks used against Dalian Atkinson were part of a toxic cocktail of abusive and discriminatory policing.
“Appallingly, you are eight times more likely to have a police Taser used against you if you are black, while people suffering from mental health distress are also disproportionately likely to be Tasered rather than responded to in less violent ways.
“Tasers are potentially lethal weapons - linked to hundreds of deaths in the USA and a growing number in Britain - and we’ve always said that UK police forces needed to restrict their use to highly-trained specialist officers.
“There has been enormous mission creep with Taser use in this country, with senior police voices now openly calling for the weapon to be seen as routine equipment carried by all officers. We urgently need a full review of police use of these dangerous devices and confirmation that Tasers will remain specialist weapons, limited for use in specific genuinely dangerous situations.
“Dalian Atkinson’s tragic death must become a watershed moment for policing, where our police forces show that black lives do really matter to them.”