Pc Ryan Curtis and Pc Scott James have been awarded the Merit Star – Essex Police’s highest accolade.
11 April 2022
Two plain clothes police officers who pinned armed terrorist Ali Harbi Ali to the floor minutes after he murdered MP Sir David Amess, said: “We are not heroes”.
Pc Ryan Curtis and Pc Scott James have been awarded the Merit Star – Essex Police’s highest accolade – after they confronted the knife-wielding killer at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea last October, armed only with police batons and incapacitant spray.
Ali, 26, had intended to die a martyr but dropped his bloodied weapon when he realised the pair were virtually unarmed.
In a statement released through Essex Police, Pc Curtis said: “We are not heroes – we did what any other officer would have that day.
“We only wish we could have done more and we continue to think of both Sir David and his family.”
The Old Bailey trial heard Ali stabbed the veteran Southend West Conservative MP to death at a constituency surgery, tricking staff to grant him an appointment slot.
Ali, who was motivated by a long-held desire to seek revenge on politicians who voted for air strikes in Syria, tried to engage Sir David in discussions about foreign policy before saying “sorry”, retrieving the concealed knife, and plunging it in to his unsuspecting victim.
Aides and members of the public raised the alarm, prompting the two plain clothes officers to head to the scene.
In a statement issued after jurors took just 18 minutes to convict Ali of murder and preparing terrorist acts, Pc Curtis said: “Once we got inside, we shouted at the suspect to drop the weapon and he refused and then he started walking towards us with the knife.
“We didn’t know what he was going to do, we knew he might attempt to attack us, but we had to stop him getting past us as there were other members of the public outside.
“We carried on shouting at him and trying to persuade him to stop and eventually he dropped the weapon allowing us to arrest him.”
His colleague, Pc James, added: “When I look back, I know that we did all we could to detain the suspect and I’m really proud of the other officers and paramedics who did all they could to try and save Sir David.
“Ryan and I just did what any other police officer would have done – and that’s doing your best and having each other’s backs in whatever situation you walk into.”
Essex Police Chief Constable BJ Harrington said: “Ryan and Scott represent everything that is remarkable about the officers of our great force.
“They ran into the face of danger that day, not knowing what they would face and with their only thoughts being to apprehend the suspect, get help to Sir David and to protect other members of the public.”