Joe Kovac Jr.
The Macon Telegraph
A Bibb County sheriff’s deputy was stabbed to death early Tuesday by an apparently handcuffed inmate at the county jail who grabbed a knife the deputy was thought to have had in his possession, officials said.
It was unclear to investigators whether the knife was taken from a duty belt that the deputy was wearing or if perhaps the knife somehow fell to the floor, possibly in a struggle to restrain the inmate, officials said.
The deputy, 30-year-old Christopher Wilson Knight, was stabbed while he and other deputies were moving inmate Albert Dewitt Booze to a cell for “suicide watch” about 2:30 a.m. after Booze threatened to harm himself, Sheriff David Davis said.
Charges against Booze, 22, who had been in the jail since November on charges of criminal damage, giving a false name and criminal trespassing, were pending.
One deputy killed, another injured
An internal investigation had been launched to determine why the deputy had a knife, the sheriff said, adding that deputies in the jail have access to knives as there are on occasion circumstances that arise in which cutting implements are needed. Such situations can include the need to cut bed sheets, cords or other items that inmates have been known to use to hurt themselves. It was unclear if Booze had done so.
Another deputy, 32-year-old Jerome Michael Williams, sworn in last week, was injured in the incident and treated at a city hospital before being released, Davis said.
A source familiar with the investigation told The Telegraph that Booze, at some point prior to the alleged attack on Knight, had intentionally clogged a toilet in his cell, flooded the cell, and then splashed the overflow water on deputies.
At a news conference shortly before 9 a.m., the sheriff spoke to reporters, saying, “We’re here on a sad morning for the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. We’ve lost a fine deputy in the jail and had another one injured.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as is routine in such matters, was probing any criminal aspects of the attack on the deputy.
Speaking at the news conference, Todd Crosby, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Perry office, said that at some point on Monday the inmate involved in Tuesday morning’s attack had been moved to a new cell for “disciplinary issues.”
Just before 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Booze was being moved to “suicide watch” after “making comments that he wished to harm himself,” Crosby said.
The agent said “several deputies” were involved in moving Booze to an observation cell where he could be monitored around the clock.
“During this time, a fight between Booze and the deputies took place,” Crosby said. “During that fight, Booze was able to obtain a knife from one of the deputies [Knight] and use his knife to stab and kill the deputy.”
The slain deputy, who turned 30 on Sunday, had worked at the jail since he was hired in 2018.
The sheriff said Knight is survived by his mother and a 2-year-old child.
“Our condolences and our hearts go out to his family and all of his friends,” Davis said.
‘Very proud of their service’
The sheriff described Knight’s death as “tragic” and added that law enforcement “is a dangerous job, even in the jail. … These are sometimes dangerous people that we deal with. … They’re sometimes unpredictable and … tragic things can happen. These deputies come to work every day knowing that they have a duty to perform and that there are dangers inherent in what they do, and our hearts go out to them. And we are very proud of their service, and we are very saddened and shocked by the death of deputy Knight and the injury to deputy Williams.”
Davis said sheriff’s officials were “looking into” why Knight had a knife.
“Deputies do have access to knives and that sort of thing when needed because we have situations where someone (who is incarcerated) may try to commit suicide” and deputies must “cut somebody down” who is trying to hang or asphyxiate themselves, the sheriff said.
Officials have not released — and may not yet have — a full account of how the deadly incident unfolded.
“It happened as they were moving (Booze) from one place to another,” Davis said. “There were several deputies involved in this movement, so we’re looking at all of the circumstances surrounding what happened. … It wasn’t like it was a one-on-one situation.”
It also was unclear how Booze — said to have been handcuffed, possibly with the cuffs in front of his body — came to allegedly wield the knife.
“He was being restrained in a way, but a person that is determined to do harm, even though they may be handcuffed and people are around, they sometimes find a way to do harm,” Davis said.
Booze in county jail seven times
Booze, the inmate involved in the alleged attack, has since 2016 been incarcerated seven times at the Bibb lockup on Oglethorpe Street.
The disposition of charges against him in those arrests was not immediately known, though he has no record of serving time in state prison.
Three of Booze’s most recent arrests here came in a 10-day span last fall, the first of those on Oct. 29.
His latest arrest on Nov. 9 stemmed from incidents that day at an Arby’s and a Taco Bell on Gray Highway in east Macon.
According to a sheriff’s report, a shift manager at Arby’s said Booze had been outside at midday in the drive-thru line on foot, “harassing customers and staff.”
The report went on to note that Booze cussed at Arby’s employees and went to the restaurant’s front door and kicked the glass until it shattered. He was then said to have gone to a nearby Taco Bell, where an employee said Booze was “causing a disturbance.”
A sheriff’s deputy who answered the call soon spotted Booze — who matched the description of the suspect in the incidents at the fast-food establishments — outside a nearby Precision Tune auto shop.
The report said Booze gave the deputy a fake name — Jason Stewart — and “was hesitant about providing me a date of birth.”
After Booze was taken into custody, an employee at Arby’s identified Booze as the culprit in the door-busting encounter, which the employee described as glass-shattering kicks.
“The subject finally admitted to giving me the wrong name,” the deputy wrote in the report.
Upon being informed that he was under arrest for criminal damage and other charges, Booze was said to have become “irate” and begun kicking the windows of the deputy’s patrol car.
“I then removed the subject’s shoes and applied ankle and leg restraints” before taking him to jail, the deputy’s report said. “Upon our arrival (at the jail) … the subject remained non-compliant during the booking process and had to be physically restrained.”
Another deputy was injured in the struggle, the report said.
In the wake of the deputy Knight’s death on Tuesday, Booze was transferred to a jail in neighboring Jones County.
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