PC JAMES WILLETTS AND PC LEON MITTOO
Courageous police officers were wounded in a frenzied knife attack as they battled to keep shoppers and children safe.
James and Leon were patrolling New Square shopping centre in West Bromwich last July when they became suspicious of two men carrying large backpacks and wearing heavy clothing – despite it being a swelteringly hot day.
When they challenged the men, they refused to stop and ran off. As the officers gave chase, the situation took a horrifying turn. One of the men produced a large knife and lunged at the officers. James recalls: “He ran towards me screaming, brandishing something and swinging around erratically”. Leon was stabbed repeatedly – sustaining serious injuries to his back, body and head while James received a head wound that was millimetres away from being life-threatening.
As terrified shoppers ran for safety, despite bleeding from their wounds, both officers managed to remain calm and subdue and detain the men. Fellow officers later discovered an arsenal of weapons in their bags, including a machete, knives and an imitation firearm.
Brothers Parminder Hunjan, 37, and Maninder Hunjan, 26, went on to receive jail sentences totalling 26 years, in May 2022. Speaking about the incident, Leon said: “I thought I was going to die. I just did everything I could. It was a fight for survival.”
James added: “In our training we’re taught if it ever comes to knives, a slice in the wrong place and you can bleed out in minutes. “There were loads of people around screaming, we were conscious there were children nearby. Shops had put their shutters down, making sure the people inside were safe.
You don’t think about yourself, you’re thinking about everyone else.” Douglas Marshall of the Crown Prosecution Service said the officers’ courageous actions had saved others from serious harm, averting a potential tragedy. “The officers unhesitatingly put themselves in harm’s way and through their brave actions the pair were disarmed. Given the arsenal of weapons the brothers were carrying, the potential outcome could have been much worse.”