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18 September 2021

The moment assault suspect pointed ‘gun’ at policeman’s face and said ‘I’m going to blast you’

18 September 2021

A police officer has told of the moment he feared for his life after a man apparently pointed a gun at his face and threatened to shoot him.

Sergeant Tony Webb, of West Midlands Police was with a colleague responding to reports of a disturbance in Erdington, Birmingham, at just before midnight on April 13 when he saw a man grabbing a woman by the neck then throwing her to the floor and kicking her in the ribs.

Sgt Webb chased him to a property before the suspect turned and pointed a handgun-shaped object at his face and threatened to “blast” him.

Body-worn camera footage shows the moment seconds later when armed officers detained the gunman, Andrew Cullen 42.

The officers, who had been patrolling nearby, were alerted by a member of the public and quickly arrested Cullen.

One of them can be seen running across roads and passing a crying woman on the floor, before approaching Cullen and shouting: “He’s got a gun! Drop it now!”

As more armed officers approach, Cullen can be seen lifting his hands in the air, placing the apparent weapon on the floor and crouching down.

It turned out to be a realistic-looking imitation, but Sgt Webb said he feared for his life.

He said: “It was a very scary situation… I thought the man was pointing a viable firearm at me.

“I’ve recovered and handled numerous firearms during my police career and there was nothing in the appearance of the gun that gave me any impression it was anything other than genuine.

“Thankfully the ARV (armed response vehicle) was close by and the officers arrived within a few seconds.

“Looking back at the footage it demonstrates the amazing decision-making and restraint shown by the three firearms officers. They needed to make split-second decisions when faced with an armed threat and dealt with it superbly.

“Cullen is clearly a man who is willing to use serious violence. I’m hugely grateful for the speedy arrival of my armed colleagues.”

Chief Inspector Jason Nunn, from the Firearms Unit, said: “This video demonstrates the split-second decisions officers are faced with, in fast moving and dynamic situations, every day when encountering armed or potentially armed subjects.

“It’s a testament to their professionalism and the high level of training they receive that they were able to bring this incident to a safe conclusion.”

On Friday, Cullen was jailed for three years and three months after admitting possessing an imitation gun with intent to cause fear of violence, plus assaulting the woman.

Detective Constable Ian Phillips said: “The woman was subjected to a horrific assault. She was thrown quite some distance by Cullen, banging her head, followed by two strong kicks. She was lucky not to be seriously hurt.

“It was a vicious, cowardly attack and it’s right Cullen has been handed a jail term.”

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