Two West Yorkshire Police officers, who wrestled a knifeman to the ground after he had terrorised a bus full of passengers, have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards.
PS Mike Watkins and PC Tom Swift were called to deal with reports that the man was swinging a large knife around his head and threatening passengers on the Number 75 bus in Holbeck, Leeds on 21st December last year.
As the officers arrived at the scene shortly after 11.30pm, they could see the man sitting down in the middle of the bus. He was still brandishing the large knife. At this stage, the bus driver had stopped the vehicle as he and a trainee driver, on board to learn the route, had real concerns about their safety and the safety of their late-night passengers.
The officers realised the man posed a severe threat and decided they had to act instantly rather than wait for backup to arrive.
They boarded the bus from the front after calling in to get Taser use authority. Given the seriousness of the situation, they realised they couldn’t wait and decided to ensure their Tasers were ready to be used.
They then calmly told the man to stay where he was and to drop the knife, a request he flatly refused. Instead, he began to swing the large blade around again and advanced menacingly towards them.
The officers then deployed their Tasers, but they had minimal effect due to the baggy layers of clothing the man was wearing. The officers knew they had to keep themselves and the passengers out of knife range, so PC Watkins took the incredibly courageous step to draw his baton and approach the man in a bid to knock the blade from his hand.
Seeing the drawn baton, the man began to retreat back down the aisle. Given the confines of the bus, PS Watkins’ baton fell from his grasp, and the man stepped forward to pick it up.
With a knife in one hand and the police baton in the other, the man turned towards the officers, again swinging both weapons around his head. All the while, the officers had managed to keep themselves and the passengers and drivers on the bus out of harm’s way.
Bravely stepping forward, PC Swift then drew his own baton to strike the man while his colleague deployed PAVA spray.
Still the man came forward, and the melee spillled out over the bus steps and into the street. With Taser, a baton strike and PAVA spray deployment all failing to stop the knifeman in his tracks, the officers had to revert to more direct hands-on tactics.
As the man went to swing at them again with the knife and the baton, the officers managed to rush at him, grabbing both his arms in a bid to neutralise the weapons.
Pinning him to the ground, the officers managed to de-arm him before getting him into handcuffs.
The man was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act and received the treatment he required.
West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Brian Booth said the officers had displayed incredible courage and professionalism to protect the lives of everyone on board.
“It’s another fantastic example of West Yorkshire Police officers doing everything in their power to stop people coming to harm,” he said.
“This was a very tough assignment, and it got tougher given both Taser and the PAVA spray weren’t enough to stop this knifeman in his tracks.
“Mike and Tom had to think fast and act fast, they potentially saved lives that night, and we are extremely proud of their actions and of them as officers.”