LONDON • Dalian Atkinson, the former Aston Villa footballer, died yesterday after being Tasered by English police, his father told British media.
Police confirmed that officers were called to an address in Telford, England around 1.30am.
"Upon arrival Taser was deployed and a 48-year-old man, who subsequently received medical attention, was pronounced dead at approximately 3am," said a police statement.
Neighbours said the address was the home of Atkinson's 85-year-old father Ernest.
"He got Tasered in the street," media cited Ernest Atkinson as saying.
"He was in a real state. I don't know if he was drunk or on drugs but he was very agitated and his mind was upset. He was threatening and very upset. I didn't call the police but someone else did."
A Telford resident, Paula Quinn, said Atkinson appeared to be "almost staggering" in the street before he was Tasered. She said Atkinson went down "like a lead balloon" after being hit by the Taser.
Quinn added: "I heard shouting and something smashing, which is what alerted me to look out of the window. I am feeling a bit sick knowing that the poor lad has passed. I don't care what anybody has done. Nobody deserves to die as a result of something like that."
The ambulance service said Atkinson went into cardiac arrest as he was being taken to the town's Princess Royal Hospital, and was confirmed dead shortly after arrival.
The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) watchdog, and is likely to trigger a debate about police use of electronic stun guns.
The IPCC confirmed it has launched an investigation. In a statement it said: "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.
"The IPCC is conducting a full and thorough investigation into all of the circumstances surrounding his death including the use of force."
Tasers deliver an incapacitating 50,000-volt shock, and critics say the weapon is too often lethal. It has been linked to 10,329 incidents last year in England and Wales with at least 10 deaths over the last decade.
Atkinson achieved acclaim for his goal of the season against Wimbledon in 1992 as part of an Aston Villa team that finished as runners-up in the Premiership's first year.
Villa paid tribute to their former player by tweeting a picture of Atkinson, along with the words "RIP Dalian Atkinson. You'll never be forgotten!"
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE