Calls for 'rigorous and transparent' probe into death of ex-Sheffield Wednesday footballer

Dalian Atkinson
Dalian Atkinson
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Activists have called for a 'rigorous and transparent' investigation into the death of former Owl Dalian Atkinson after he was shot with a police Taser.

The 48-year-old died 90 minutes after a West Mercia Police officer shot him with a stun gun in the street where he grew up in Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours of Monday.

A petition calling on the Prime Minister to urgently review the police use of Tasers has gathered more than 50,000 signatures.

Rights activist Desmond Jaddoo, who has campaigned to raise awareness about the deaths of black men after police contact, said officers had questions to answer over Mr Atkinson's death.

He said: "The one thing I'd call for is a clear, rigorous and transparent investigation process, which is not going to be delayed by bureaucracy. We don't want to see any closing of police ranks."

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

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Relatives said Mr Atkinson was 'not in his right mind, was 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.

Mr Jaddoo said the question of police use of force on a black man was again under the spotlight following Mr Atkinson's death.

He added: "At the end of the day, Dalian Atkinson - a black man - has lost his life. You should call the police and the police should go in to defuse, to de-escalate the tension.

"Why did the officers feel it necessary to apply that amount of force on a black man? It's a question that needs to be answered."

Commenting on the IPCC probe, he said: "What lessons learned, if any, will not bring back Dalian Atkinson, or anyone else who lost their lives as a result of police contact.

"Let's have an end to lessons learned and start doing something about it."

Mr Atkinson is reported to have attacked his 85-year-old father, Ernest, and threatened to kill him before police were called to the family home.

West Mercia Police said officers were called amid concerns 'for the safety of an individual'.

Mr Atkinson played for Sheffield Wednesday in the 1989-90 season.