London Bridge attack: Witness describes moment police officer fought terrorists armed only with baton

Exclusive: ‘I am sure if it wasn’t for his bravery the attacker would have made his way to us’

Jon Sharman
Thursday 08 June 2017 13:59 BST
The unnamed officer sustained serious injuries in his fight with the attackers
The unnamed officer sustained serious injuries in his fight with the attackers (PA)

A man has told of how a heroic police officer saved his life on the night of the London Bridge terror attack by taking on the murderers armed with only his baton.

Orlando Giraldo, 26, said he and a friend had been watching the Champions League final in a pub near the Shard and went to Borough Market to find something to eat.

As they waited for their food, they “heard a loud bang up the road and saw a white van had crashed. Initially I thought it was a drunk who had crashed”.

He told The Independent: “A few seconds afterwards we heard screaming and people running down the road. We didn’t know what was happening.

“Then a man was running down the street screaming for help and saying he’d been stabbed in the back. I had a shirt in my bag. I just remembered that stab wounds need pressure.”

He and another man began to apply pressure with the shirt while he called for an ambulance, he said.

Mr Giraldo’s friend, Francisco Araujo Cruz, a 23-year-old chef, told The Independent that at first the pair “thought it was just a fight”.

Mr Giraldo, a customer services worker from north London who said he had been a special constable with the Metropolitan Police for four years, added: “Up the road there was a group of people, I am not sure if they were trying to help someone but they were standing there.

“Suddenly a man with a bearded face and a vest on came from the side and started stabbing people in the group with his knife.

“A few seconds after a British Transport Police (BTP) officer ran past me and jumped into the thick of it with just his baton. He was fighting the bearded attacker and I am sure another knifeman joined the attack as well.

“A second BTP officer ran up to us. We were still on the ground, and he shouted, ‘Run, he has a bomb’.

“At which point I reacted and got up and ran across the street to find my friend Francisco, who was in a state of shock and was just watching the attack unfold from the other side of the pavement. I grabbed him and we ran.”

Of the first officer, who sustained serious injuries in his fight with the attackers, Mr Giraldo said: “I am sure if it wasn’t for his bravery the attacker would [have] made his way to us.”

Who are the victims of the London Bridge attacks?

Mr Giraldo sent a Snapchat post he said he made on the night of the attack, showing a sea of blue lights under a railway bridge and a 141 bus.

On Thursday, the unnamed officer thanked members of the public for their “overwhelming” support as he receives hospital treatment for wounds to his head, arm and leg.

“Like every police officer who responded, I was simply doing my job,” he added.

“I feel like I did what any other person would have done. I want to say sorry to the families that lost their loved ones. I’m so sorry I couldn’t do more and I want you to know I did everything I could.”

The BTP officer thanked colleagues who saved his life by giving first aid and driving him to hospital in their car, adding: “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

Mr Giraldo said “words couldn’t describe” how grateful he felt, urging the officer not to apologise for being willing to give his life to protect others.

“If it wasn’t for your act of bravery many more would’ve died,” he added in a message addressed directly to the man.

“We owe you our lives. You are an amazing human being. You will forever be in our hearts as our hero.

“In that moment of danger many of us thought about our self-preservation but you didn’t.

“Witnessing your bravery I have never felt more proud, more grateful, more humbled to call this country my home. We will forever be grateful.

“We will forever remember your bravery and those of us that made it to safety because of you will forever cherish you in our hearts, because of you we have the opportunity to see another day.

“You’re a hero. God bless you.”

Paul Crowther, Chief Constable of the BTP, said: “Having visited the PC in hospital a number of times and hearing first-hand the incredible account of his actions on Saturday night, I am proud that he is part of the BTP family.

“I know everyone at the force is behind him and his family as he continues his recovery.”

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