On April 6th, a sheriff’s deputy was tragically stabbed to death by a handcuffed inmate in a Bibb County jail.
The inmate, Albert Dewitt Booze, was being transferred to a different cell for a “suicide watch” around 2:30 a.m. after he threatened to harm himself. Christopher Wilson Knight, the sheriff’s deputy, was one of the deputies involved in the transfer. Deputy Knight was stabbed during a scuffle amid the transfer, though it’s unclear if the knife was taken from his belt or if it fell due to the struggle.
Booze had been in jail since November 2020 on charges of criminal damage, giving a false name and criminal trespassing. New charges for the stabbing are still pending. At some point prior to the attack against Deputy Knight, Booze had intentionally clogged a toilet in his cell so that it flooded, and then splashed the deputies with the overflow.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is checking to see if there were any criminal motivations for the attack.
Deputy Knight, who had just turned 30 a few days prior, had worked in the jail since 2018. He is survived by his mother and his 2-year-old child.
The Bibb County sheriff called Deputy Knight’s death “tragic” and said in a statement that police work 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. 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.”
In the wake of Deputy Knight’s death, Booze was transferred to a jail in neighboring Jones County.
Our condolences go out to Deputy Knight’s family as they deal with this unexpected loss.
Workers’ compensation for law enforcement officers
Since Deputy Knight was on duty when he was killed, his family may be entitled to death benefits under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law. This is the worst-case scenario. But even if you’re an officer who was injured on duty, you may be entitled to medical benefits and compensation for missing work.
Police officers know there’s a difference between being “on-duty” and “off-duty” with regards to what’s required of them. Some officers chose to earn extra income by working as security while off-duty from their daily police jobs. Injuries sustained during these times can make filing workers’ comp claims tricky.
An injury falls under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act only if the injury “arises out of” and occurs “in the course of” employment, according to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1(4).
Generally, injuries that occur “going to and coming from” work don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. However, one exception is injuries that occur while in “continuous employment” such as on-call and traveling employees. Under this doctrine, an injured off-duty officer may still qualify for compensation, but it’s difficult to say for certain since the analysis of eligibility is specific to each case and the facts surrounding it.
That’s why hiring a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to help guide your case is essential. Injuries sustained while off-duty are subject to a very deep analysis that is very specific. This can be explained by the fact that off-duty officers are more often than not on call all the time.
If you need assistance filing a claim for workers’ comp in Georgia, reach out to our team at Gerber & Holder Law. We are trained and experienced in this area of law, and we are ready to fight for your rights.