The date was set for SuperBowl XXXVIII,February 1 2004.On this "SuperBowl Sunday",I was working the 1500-2300 hours shift at a county jail in Central Illinois.It was right before kickoff when things really kicked off for my fellow Correctional Officer and friend.After hearing the terror in his voice from a broken radio transmission,I responded to a minimum security setting which housed 54 inmates that range from misdemeanors to felonies.It was in this direct supervision setting that my fellow officer instructed Inmate Johnson to comply with a rule infraction that Inmate Johnson was in violation of.Inmate Johnson waited in his cell which was on the 2ND tier for my friend to conduct the required 30 minute supervisory checks.While Officer X approached Inmate Johnson's assigned cell,Inmate Johnson stunned Officer X by striking him with the door Inmate Johnson kicked open.While the officer was caught off guard and stunned,Inmate Johnson emerged from his cell delivering blows to the officer's head and face with his fists.This is when I heard the broken radio transmission and terror in his voice.Since serving with this Sheriff's Department since 1999,I knew that this was not a routine assistance call for other Inmates fighting or refusing to "lock up" in their assigned cells.When I arrived to the location,I saw my friend walking down the stairs,his face covered in sheer terror and blood.After getting him to safety,I was then met by this enraged monster wanting to inflict physical injury to myself and another officer that responded to the assistance call with me.I was able to diffuse the situation without further injury to anyone by talking and calming down Inmate Johnson.After several more Correctional Officer's and Sheriff's Deputy's arrived,we attempted to move Inmate Johnson out of the minimum security setting to a maximum security setting.Inmate Johnson did not understand why he was being moved and once again became violent and combative.While we were attempting to apply handcuffs and leg restraints on Inmate Johnson who was now face down on the floor,he forcefully began biting me on my left upper thigh.We finally got the restraints on Inmate Johnson and he was now able to be escorted to a maximum security block.The entire escort listened to Inmate Johnson telling us that his intentions were to "kill that man" and "throw him off the 2ND tier".
The stream of blood ran down my thigh from the missing flesh Inmate Johnson removed with his teeth.I remember laying in the ER room by myself wondering if I may have contracted the HIV or Hepatitis virus.If I did,what would I tell my friend's and family? Most important,how was I supposed to tell my son who was 5, that his dad was now going to be living with a terrible disease.I felt so small and wondered all the obstacles I may face ahead of me while the attending ER doctor drew my blood and disinfected the wound on my thigh.I hopelessly waited for the results from my blood draw and Inmate Johnson's blood draw.One week later I received great news that we were both negative for any diseases or infections.
Let me forward 5 or 6 months.I began sleeping with the telephone in my hand at night in fear of having a heart attack.My heart would race at night like I just ran the race of my life.I began having horrific nightmares from what sleep I was able to achieve.I began medicating myself on nightly basis with alcohol.I am not much of a drinker,but the alcohol seemed to numb my memory of that horrific event.I was easily provoked and would react violently to any conflict inside of jail.This is when I consulted with my doctor and was referred to a counselor who diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.I was taken off work by my counselor and was prescribed 20 MG of Lexapro and 30 Mg of Buspar.I was in fear of what my fellow officer's might think of me.Would they think I am crazy and not fit for duty if I did in fact return to the department?This was an obstacle I over came by encouraging my fellow officer's that this could happened to them after a traumatic experience they may encounter while working in the jail.Inmate Johnson was suppose to receive 15 years in prison for his actions,but made a deal with the states attorneys office for a 5 year prison sentence.I am the one that received a life sentence with PTSD.To this date I am still suffering and experiencing the effects associated with PTSD.Could my PTSD been avoided if my employer offered me a Immediate Post Acute Event Analysis and counseling? This was not offered to me and I returned to work the following day after the attack with nothing being discussed and a "nothing happened" type of attitude that was severe type of attitude.A five year prison sentence does not compare to the life long sentence of PTSD I will continue to suffer with.
I hope my story will shed some light on another officer who might be experiencing some of the symptoms I am suffering from.I would like to write a short book about my trials and tribulations I have encountered with PTSD.Please leave any comments or suggestions in the forum section of this website.