‘Calm and selfless’ police pair stopped man killing himself’

Two police officers have been praised for the “calm and selfless” way they dealt with a traumatic situation when called out to a report of an agitated male who was threatening to kill himself with a knife.

South Wales PCs Brian Cooper and Ryan Morgan have been nominated for the Police Bravery Awards 2021 for their life-saving actions.

PCs Cooper (37) and Morgan (33) responded to a report on 26 September 2019 involving a suicidal male having locked himself into a bathroom.

On arrival at the address, in Swansea, the officers were met by the man’s distressed mother, who told them her son had been shouting “they want to take me, they want to take me”. 

The officers attempted to engage with the man, who refused to open the door, saying he was going to kill himself.  

When they forced the door open, they were confronted by the sight of an agitated man, stripped to the waist and sitting in the bath, repeatedly stabbing himself to the torso with a knife. 

They tried again to engage with him, to no avail, and footage from the officers’ body-worn video (BWV) shows PC Cooper attempt to take the knife from him. 

As this was unsuccessful and the man continued to stab himself, PC Morgan deployed his Taser. The video camera footage shows the man jump up and continue to self-harm, with a significant amount of blood now showing, and the Taser was deployed again. 

PCs Ryan Morgan (left) and Brian Cooper and have been praised for the “calm and selfless” way they dealt with a traumatic situation

This time the man slumped in the corner of the bath and was approached by PC Cooper who took the knife. The man’s wounds were bleeding significantly and he remained non-compliant, screaming hysterically.

As the officers attempted to tend to the man’s injuries, he tried to bite them. However, the evidence shows both PCs Cooper and Morgan displaying significant control and empathy as they restrained the man while also administering first aid. 

Steve Treharne, chair of South Wales Police Federation which nominated the officers for the bravery awards, said the BWV evidence makes clear what a “traumatic and challenging incident” the officers were dealing with.

"Taking the decision to enter the bathroom in the first instance, without knowing what they would be faced with, was essential in helping the man,” said Steve. 

“When met with the sight of him repeatedly stabbing himself, both officers acted selflessly in dealing with the situation. PC Cooper showed significant bravery by approaching the male while he was still armed with a knife. 

“Having removed the knife,  and despite him still resisting, the officers continued to administer first aid and remained calm even when he was trying to bite them. 

“It is my view that, faced with this situation, others may have frozen or fled from dealing with it, which would have put the man’s life at significant risk. However, their dynamic response in this difficult and challenging situation was clearly a contributing factor in saving his life.”

His praise was echoed by Mel Palmer, of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, who spoke of the officers’ “courage and selflessness” in dealing with the harrowing incident. 

“They were aware from an early stage that (the man) was in possession of a knife,” she said, “The BWV shows that PC Cooper tried to stop him from stabbing himself by reaching for the knife, at considerable risk to his own safety. 

“When this was unsuccessful, PC Morgan Tasered (the man) and the officers then attended to his stab wounds for an extended period while awaiting back-up and an ambulance.

“(The man) was highly distressed and struggling throughout but the officers dealt with what must have been an exceptionally stressful incident calmly. I have listened to the words exchanged between the officers and (the man) throughout the incident and was struck by the humanity and empathy they both showed, which was commendable in view of the stressors and risks they faced. 

“The BWV footage shows that both officers went to great efforts to calm him while awaiting assistance; PC Cooper applied pressure to the most serious wound for an extended period, despite (the man) struggling strenuously and attempting to bite him and, in the course of doing so, was splattered with his blood. 

“In many similar incidents I have seen officers lose patience and resort to robust ‘verbal domination’ at an early stage to ensure compliance. Such an approach would no doubt have unsettled him further here. It is to the officers’ great credit that they handled the incident with such compassion.”

Chief Superintendent Joanna Maal was also full of praise for her officers.

“They dealt with a very difficult situation with professionalism and compassion,” she said, “The circumstances they were faced with on that day were extreme and, in my opinion, the officers made life-saving interventions.”

Both PC Cooper, based at Aberkenfig police station, and PC Morgan, of Sandfields, have already won the South Wales Police 2020 Award for exceptional bravery category in relation to this incident.

The Police Federation’s Police Bravery Awards 2021 are being held in London on 9 December.