George Medal for National Crime Agency officer

A National Crime Agency firearms officer who risked his life to protect the public during a criminal shootout has been honoured for his outstanding bravery.

Martin Finney has been awarded the George Medal after taking on a gunman who then shot at him seven times.

The officer – previously referred to as NC32 – was on a surveillance operation with his Armed Operations Unit (AOU) in Tottenham, north London, at 10.45pm on 23 May 2014 when attacker Sedat Meric began firing into a pool hall as part of an on-going gang feud.

Martin was walking back to his car after being stood down for the evening from the operation when hooded Meric unloaded four shots into the building with about 30 people inside.

Witnessing the attack, Martin, who was alone and not wearing body armour, identified himself, drew his gun and told the attacker to drop his weapon.

Meric – who was eventually jailed for 15 years for the attack – ran at Martin and opened fire – one bullet missing by just centimetres.

With no communication with his colleagues, Martin returned fire and, using parked vehicles as cover, relentlessly pursued Meric, 25, into a dark residential street.

Believing Meric could have already killed someone, Martin refused to give up until Meric was out of bullets and eventually put down his gun and raised his arms.

Martin – who has been an armed officer for 12 years after an Army and policing career – detained Meric until he was arrested by NCA colleagues.

Speaking of his pride at receiving the honour, he said: “I feel incredibly honoured to receive this award.

“To be associated with previous recipients of the George Medal is truly humbling.

“Accepting this award I would like to thank members of the armed operations unit who on the night of the incident also carried out acts of bravery and showed great professionalism.

“I was gobsmacked finding out about the medal.

“I have colleagues who have received awards, some posthumous, and to be honest I really don’t feel worthy to be in the same bracket as them.

“Receiving the George Medal is amazing, I can’t express it.

“All my family are incredibly proud of me.”

Martin has had to draw his weapon many times before on jobs but never had to fire it until he was forced to defend himself.

Reliving the incident, he said: “I wasn’t going to cower behind a car. I wanted to arrest him.

“I just tried to make myself as small as possible and get a good shot back.

“He went around the corner and I moved for cover.

“I could see his eyes looking at me and the gun coming up.

“The NCA training is fantastic and kicks in.

“You can’t really be prepared in that position but you train so much that your confidence is there.

“At the back of my mind I didn’t know if he had already killed someone.

“His firing was totally indiscriminate; he had no regard for life. I was terrified somebody might have been hit.”

Martin dedicated his honour to his law enforcement colleagues, adding: “I love the job and working with the team.

“It is definitely the highlight of my career.

“You train incredibly hard, put massive hours in and work on some very important, dangerous operations.

“Nothing comes close to it.

“The medal is very much for my colleagues.

“I have always wanted to help keep people safe, we are trained to protect people and that’s the NCA’s ethos.

“That was very much in my mind on the night.

“You take the Queen’s shilling and you give the job everything you’ve got.”

Director General Lynne Owens applauded Martin for his selflessness, saying: “Martin displayed such bravery in the face of extreme danger and he thoroughly deserves this prestigious award.

“He protected the public, confronting a gunman who was firing his loaded weapon repeatedly.

“It was a truly heroic act and we are all so proud of him.”

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