A police officer was held down by three men and had his throat cut in a horrifying knife attack. Police have launched an urgent hunt for a suspect they want to speak to.

The incident occurred in Middlesbrough, Cleveland at around 8.30 p.m. on June 19, when the officer sought to intervene to prevent what he suspected to be a drug deal in Athol Street.

He was abruptly attacked and overpowered when he approached three men. Two suspects punched him to the ground and then held him down while the third held a knife to his throat and cut it while threatening him.

The officer was not seriously physically injured in the encounter but is believed to be deeply shaken and feared for his life at one point.

Cleveland Police reported that two men involved are unknown, but they ‘urgently’ need to locate the third man, 30-year-old Aaron Gray. Gray, known to police, is believed to be in the Middlesbrough area, and the injured officer’s colleagues are making urgent investigations to find him.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts has been urged to come forward.

Detective Superintendent Helen Barker said: “This was an incident which involved an officer who was simply carrying out his policing duties.

“Thankfully, he was not seriously physically injured. However, understandably he remains very shaken. He is recovering at home and has received many messages of support from colleagues across the force.

“We need to locate and speak to Gray as quickly as possible. We believe he remains in the local area, probably within Middlesbrough.

“People will know where he is, and I’d urge them to pass information to Cleveland Police via the 101 number.”

Anonymous information can also be given to independent charity Crimestoppers by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org or calling 0800 555 111.