An ex-Premier League soccer player is the latest casualty of taser use in the UK, where police rarely carry guns

Dalian Atkinson, scoring in the FA Cup final for Aston Villa in 1994.
Dalian Atkinson, scoring in the FA Cup final for Aston Villa in 1994.
Image: Action Images via Reuters
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Dalian Atkinson, a former Premier League soccer player, has become one of the highest profile casualties of tasers used by police in the UK.

Police confirmed the death of a 48 year old from a heart attack after being tasered by officers following an incident in Telford, near Birmingham, in the early hours Monday (Aug. 15).

Details of the incident have not been released, but witnesses told the BBC that they saw a man stumbling towards police officers who warned they would taser him. The man—later revealed as Atkinson by witnesses and the media—was treated by paramedics and went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. He was pronounced dead 90 minutes after the incident.

The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for investigation.

Taser use has been on the rise in England and Wales over the past decade, where fewer than 6,000 police officers across the two nations (population 57 million) are authorized to carry guns.

There were 10,329 police uses of tasers in 2015, according to the latest statistics. While the number of tasers fired showed a 3% decrease compared with 2014, the number of times the weapon was drawn increased by 4%, over half of which were “red dot” incidents where the taser was aimed and primed to fire.

As Quartz reported last year, an IPCC review addressing the rise in taser use (pdf) warned of tasers becoming “a default choice where other tactical options, including communication, could be effective.”

Atkinson played for a seven clubs during his 16-year career, including Aston Villa, Ipswich, Manchester City, Fenerbahçe, and Real Sociedad, where he was the first black player to play for the Spanish side. He is perhaps best known for scoring the goal of the season, as voted by the BBC’s flagship soccer highlights show ”Match of the Day,” in the English Premier League’s inaugural 1992-93 season.