A police officer has been cleared for assaulting former footballer Dalian Atkinson before his death.
PC Mary Ellen Bettley-Smith has faced a retrial at Birmingham Crown Court over allegations she assaulted the former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town star before his death in Telford in 2016.
Juries deliberated for three hours and two minutes before acquitting the officer, who attacked Mr Atkinson three times with a baton after he was jailed by PC Benjamin Monk, who was jailed last year for the crime. manslaughter.
Judges were unable to rule on the assault charge during the officer’s initial trial last year, but convicted Monk.
The 43-year-old was jailed for eight years in July 2021 after forensic evidence proved he kicked Mr Atkinson in the head at least twice, after pinning him to the ground.
Mrs Bettley-Smith and Monk, who were romantically involved at the time, were dispatched to the scene to restrain Mr Atkinson after his mental state became disturbed, possibly due to a substance build up toxicity associated with renal failure.
Prosecutors accused Ms Bettley-Smith of losing her temper and “stabbing” the defenseless Mr Atkinson with a baton, causing actual bodily harm that they say did not contribute to what his death.
The retired athlete passed out shortly after performing the mission near his childhood home in Meadow Close, Trench, and died in the hospital about an hour later.
In court evidence, Ms Bettley-Smith said she used the baton because she thought the former footballer still threatened “serious harm” after he was tasked with a third time.
Ms Bettley-Smith told the court she was “shaking from head to toe” and was certain she would be seriously harmed if Mr Atkinson were to get up.
The 32-year-old told the jury she had legally used her baton as a last resort when trying desperately to control Mr Atkinson, who she said was “actively against”. resist and try to get up.”
Bettley-Smith, a graduate student in social work, said that being informed of Mr Atkinson’s death had left her feeling overwhelmed and that feeling could not have been easier over the past six years.
“I live it every day,” she said.