FARINGDON policeman Richie Paul is to get an official commendation for saving a wounded colleague from rioting football hooligans.
Pc Paul, 28, was serving with Greater Manchester Police when he became caught in a mass brawl in May last year.
Hundreds of Rangers fans went on the rampage through Manchester city centre when a big screen showing their club’s UEFA Cup Final defeat to Zenit St Petersburg broke halfway through the match. The scenes that followed shocked the nation.
Now Pc Paul is to get a Chief Constable’s High Commendation for saving a fellow officer knocked to the ground by a bottle thrown by the violent mob.
He had been on routine patrol in Moss Side when he was told to make his way to the city centre because of a disturbance during the screening of the game.
He said: “We were told we were going in to reassure the public and not get involved in the public order side. Next thing I know, riot shields are handed out.”
The band of nine policeman, none of them wearing riot gear, soon found themselves facing down a mob of 300 baying rioters.
He said: “It is definitely the most frightened I’ve been as a police officer, especially as we had no protective gear.
“If they had got to us, we would not have been able to do anything about it.
“They were fighting the police because there was no-one else to fight.
“We were attacked from behind. We found ourselves back to back with the riot police, pelted with bottles.”
Suddenly, the police officer alongside him was floored by a bottle smashing into his head.
Without a second’s thought, Pc Paul hauled him to safety in a police van and returning to the front line.
He said: “You just do it. It was a colleague, and you look after each other.”
Since moving to Thames Valley Police earlier this year, Pc Paul has started patrols as one half of a bicycling police team in Faringdon, alongside Pc Rob Mann.
The pair have been drafted into the town to overcome local fears of rising antisocial behaviour and a lack of visible police presence.