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Unlikely rescuers: Inmate bites CO’s ear off, stopped by other inmates

When CO Rachel Harris was attacked, she was saved by those she kept watch over

By Rachel Harris, C1 Contributor

When I got to work on June 24th, 2013, it seemed like any other day. Everything was like it always was.

I was going to work in Visitation, but had to cover Tower 12 until the floor officer for that house came in.

Just like always, on the first walk I did headcount. On the second walk, I was doing cell searches. I had already searched cell 28, and cell 27, then I got to cell 26.

When I got to cell 26, there was an inmate sitting in the cell. When I told him that he had to leave, he got up without any issues, but didn’t leave the cell. Instead, he jumped on my back, and fought me to the ground.

While on the floor, trying to get the inmate off of my back, he bit off part of my right ear. A few seconds later, I felt his body weight being lifted while multiple people were yelling at him to get off of me.

When I didn’t feel him on my back anymore, I stood up and turned around: there were multiple inmates, holding him down. I grabbed my radio and made a call, stating that I needed Officer Assistance in Tower 12 A Pod. When I heard other officers in the pod, I walked myself out of the pod to the core area.

Then next thing I remember is being taken into the medical officer, and someone telling me part of my ear was missing. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t even felt any pain.

I do remember seeing a large amount of blood on my uniform, but I didn’t know if it was mine or someone else’s. I remember them telling me I was going to the hospital and that the ambulance was on its way.

On the way to the hospital, I kept replaying what had happened in my head over and over again, not wanting to believe that it had actually happened. That it wasn’t really going on.

When at the hospital, they called in a plastic surgeon to look at my ear. Although we didn’t have the part of the ear that was taken, he assured me that he will be able to fix my ear without it.

My doctors made me take a month off of work and I tried to fight them on that one, but he insisted that I stay off of work.

Since returning back to work, things have seemed pretty normal. The inmates still treat me the same as they did before. I have been happy to be back to work. I am ready to put what happened to me to good use.

I am going to continue to go to school for Psychology, but instead of a criminal justice psychologist, I am going to work with people in law enforcement who have been attacked or assaulted and help them recover.

I will have some idea of what they are going through, I can help them the way I wish someone would have help me.