This is not your typical Villa post. It isn’t meant to be because this is not so much a football story. A man, known more to me for his footballing skill than anything else, was pronounced dead just after midnight less than an hour’s drive from Villa Park. This blog was founded from many more miles away.
First and foremost all thoughts/prayers/condolences to the family and friends of Dalian Atkinson. I knew him for his talent. Many other people know him for his personality. The feelings of sadness and grief are not the same.
With that said, here’s what happened: (Caveat — news reports by their definition are a snapshot — the picture can and will change over time)
The Press Association reported the death of an unknown man.
And followed that up an hour later with a positive identification.
The local police released a statement:
"West Mercia Police can confirm that officers responded to a report for the concern for the safety of an individual at approximately 1.30am this morning at an address in Telford. Upon arrival Taser was deployed and a 48-year-old man, who subsequently received medical attention, was pronounced dead at approximately 3am."
The spokesman for the Ambulance Service followed up:
"As he was being conveyed to Princess Royal Hospital, his condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest. Despite the efforts of the crew and hospital staff, it was not possible to save him and he was confirmed dead at hospital, shortly after arrival."
The West Mercia Police department — following the normal procedure — referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and offered their assistance with the enquiries.
The Police Commissioner told the BBC:
"It is an important part of my role to hold the police to account. I want to be absolutely clear and reassure our communities that I will be doing that fairly and proportionately with regard to this incident once the full facts are available."
The IPCC promised a full and thorough investigation in a statement that read in part:
"At this stage the IPCC is aware a Taser was used on the man before he became ill. IPCC investigators are at the scene gathering the available information and are attending the post-incident procedures to supervise the recovery of initial evidence."
Local neighbours, and friends have been interviewed by many news organizations. Some have offered what they saw and experienced on the ground. Most have already been linked in the above reports and are there for your consumption.
UPDATE 18:19 BST 15/08/16:
The IPCC says none of the officers involved in tasering #DalianAtkinson were wearing body worn video cameras.— LBC Breaking (@lbcbreaking) August 15, 2016
UPDATE 19:32 BST 15/08/16
The Independent are carrying quotes to the BBC from an eyewitness to the account:
Paula Quinn, who lives in a first-floor flat near the Atkinson property in Trench, told the BBC: "They were shouting and kicking so much all I could hear were the boots hitting him.
"And then the officer who released the Taser stepped back while the other officer still continued to kick and then I could hear him shout to the other officer that was still kicking, 'Back off, back off, back off.'
"And then the officer with the Taser asked the gentleman to put his hands behind his back and did so probably two or three times and reactivated the Taser another four or five times after that."
Update: 23:44 BST
New IPCC statement:
IPCC deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said:
"I would like to assure people that we have begun a full and thorough investigation into police contact with Dalian Atkinson prior to his death, including the level and type of force used.
"Our investigation team have been securing and preserving relevant evidence, and identifying witnesses.
Investigators have met Mr Atkinson's immediate family to explain our role and we have appointed a family liaison manager to keep them updated.
"My thoughts are with Mr Atkinson's family and friends, and all those affected, at this difficult time."
Update 09:30am BST - 16/08/16
The Telegraph reported on the scenes leading up to Dalian's death. Pictures of broken glass at the property of Atkinson's father have surfaced on the internet.
Mr Atkinson's brother, Kenroy, 53, said that the ex-Premier League star had undergone dialysis for kidney failure and was "not in his right mind".
He said his brother had attacked their 85-year-old father, Ernest, at his home on Monday before police were called to the scene.
"My brother had lost it. He was in a manic state and depressed - out of his mind and ranting. He had a tube in his shoulder for the dialysis and he had ripped it out and was covered in blood," he told the newspaper.
"He got Dad by the throat and said he was going to kill him. He told Dad he had already killed me, our brother Paul and sister Elaine and he had come for him.
"He was not in his right mind. We are all devastated. Our family is heartbroken."
We will continue to update as news comes in.