Northumbria - confronted armed man

Northumbria Sgt Elliott Richardson, PC Sarah Currie and PC Michael Otterson

Sgt Elliott Richardson, PC Sarah Currie and PC Michael Otterson

Three Northumbria PCs Michael Otterson, Sarah Currie and Sergeant Elliott Richardson have been nominated for a Police Bravery Award after they confronted, fought with and arrested a mentally-ill man wielding a firearm.

On 11 September 2014, a community nurse contacted police to express concern about a patient who had made threats to be violent towards local drug dealers. The man had a history of violence, schizophrenia and paranoia.

After establishing the man was likely to be at an address in Gateshead, PCs Currie and Otterson began a search, and were told the man had left the estate wearing a backpack and carrying a bag. They spotted the man a short while later, making his way into a nearby pub. When officers Currie and Otterson opened the door to the pub, they were confronted by the man, holding a firearm and levelling it at them.

When Sergeant Richardson, who had been dispatched to assist, arrived on the scene the officers were in a struggle with the man and he ran to help. During the struggle, the firearm was discharged, but did not hit anyone. Sergeant Richardson used his baton to strike the fighting man in an attempt to overpower and disarm him.

Eventually, and with the help of a member of the public, the gun was taken off the man and he was able to be arrested. A search of his belongings revealed he had two handguns, a crossbow, a pack of throwing knives, home-made petrol bombs, smoke grenades and a baseball bat. He was also wearing body armour.

During his interview, the man said he had reached a crisis level in his state of mental health and felt his illness wasn’t taken seriously enough. To get the help he thought he needed, he said he planned to arm himself with weapons and cause harm to police officers. He was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.

Jim Gray, Chair of Northumbria Police Federation said: “This was an incredibly dangerous and volatile situation, in which these brave officers thought they were fighting for their lives. It is sad that this man felt his best way of getting help was to threaten the police, but we are lucky to have officers who fought so hard to ensure not only the safety of the public, but their own.”

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