English cop who stopped attack in Israel nominated for award

Richard Burgess, training to be priest, beat off Arab men on Mt. Zion.

July 13, 2017 03:16
2 minute read.
Mount Zion aerial view from south

Mount Zion aerial view from south. (photo credit: BiblePlaces.com)


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An off-duty police officer from England, who is also training to be an Anglican priest, has been nominated for a bravery award for stopping a beating while on holiday in Israel.

According to the London-based website Police Oracle, in February 2016, Sgt. Richard Burgess, of Essex police, was visiting the grave of Righteous Among the Nations Oskar Schindler on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion when just before they were leaving he helped stop an attack that was taking place in a nearby alley. His actions have only been made public now with the UK’s Police Federation’s annual Police Bravery Awards, which honor officers in England and Wales who have performed incredible acts of bravery, on or off duty.

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A woman came up to Burgess and asked him to “please help them, please help them”. He saw that there were two children crying at an alleyway’s entrance, and upon further encroaching the alley he saw three Arab men beating and dragging what he believed to be a Jewish man, based on his clothing. Burgess ran down the alley without thinking twice.

“He ran at the group, ‘clotheslining’ one of the men, and holding him in a headlock under his right arm,” the Police Federation’s nomination reads. “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 Metropolitan Police officers] arrived to help the man to safety.”

All three Arab men then stopped what they were doing and began directly attacking the off-duty cop. Burgess was hit by a claw hammer in the head, and he sat against the wall dazed. “As he sat staring up, he saw the man raise the claw hammer above his head. Realizing this may be a fatal blow, Sgt. Burgess gathered his remaining strength and raised his arms wide and open as he tried to stand,” the nomination said. “It was enough to make the offender pause, and two of the men began yelling at him to get away.”

Burgess was able to return safely to his coach bus and finished off his pilgrimage in the Holy Land without further incident. Israel Police arrested two suspects, later being convicted of assault, and no witness statement was asked of Burgess, with the story of Brugess’s heroism never being made public. Steve Taylor, chairman of Essex Police Federation praised Burgess for his courage.

“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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