Essex - intervened in attack in Israel

Essex Sergeant Richard Burgess

Sergeant Richard Burgess

An Essex officer who intervened in an attack whilst on a pilgrimage in Israel nominated for a national Police Bravery Award.

While on holiday in Jerusalem, in February 2016, Sergeant Burgess was on a guided tour at the site of Oskar Schindler’s grave. As the group approached the coach, their tour guide told them an incident was occurring on a nearby street. A local woman approached Sergeant Burgess, pointing down the street saying “please help them, please help them”.

The officer noticed two children crying at the entrance to an alleyway.  As he looked down it, he saw a man he believed, based on his clothing, to be Jewish, being dragged and hit by three young Arab men.  Without a second thought, Sergeant Burgess ran down the alleyway, where he saw the man’s eyes streaming as if having received some form of noxious substance. One of the Arab men had a leather belt wrapped around his fist, with the large silver buckle forming a sort of 'knuckleduster'.

He ran at the group, ‘clotheslining’ one of the men, and holding him in a headlock under his right arm. This despite a recent injury meaning his right hand was not fully functional. With his left hand, he pulled at the Jewish man, freeing him and yelling at him to run. Two other members of the tour [who happened to be off-duty Met Police officers] arrived to help the man to safety.

The offenders then turned their attention to Sergeant Burgess. The man with the belt began hitting him, and he released his grip on the other man. The third man then appeared at the gateway to the compound, wielding a claw hammer. He hit Sergeant Burgess over the head, stunning him, and he slumped against the wall.

As he sat staring up, he saw the man raise the claw hammer above his head. Realising this may be a fatal blow, Sergeant Burgess gathered his remaining strength and raised his arms wide and open as he tried to stand. It was enough to make the offender pause, and two of the men began yelling at him to get away.

Back on the coach, he applied ice to the large bruise that had appeared, and tried to get on with his holiday. Israeli Police informed him the following day that the suspects had been arrested, but did not ask for a witness statement. Two men were convicted of assault in the Israeli courts.

Steve Taylor, Chair of Essex Police Federation said: “A police officer is never truly off-duty, and it is brave and courageous acts like that of Sergeant Burgess that prove that. He put himself in true danger, in a foreign country, because he could see someone in need. He is truly deserving of this nomination.”

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