MIAMI (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The Florida detective stabbed by a prisoner who he was transporting through Grapevine spoke with the media on Thursday, saying that one thought ran through his mind as he was being attacked: “I’m not going down.”
“That’s what we’re trained to do,” Miami-Dade Police Department Det. Jaime Pardinas said after his return to Miami. “We’re trained to survive.”
Pardinas and another detective were transporting Alberto Morales from Miami to Nevada to serve a 30-year-to-life sentence for sexual assault when the prisoner attacked him with the sharp piece of a pair of eyeglasses.
At a news conference on Thursday, officials did not allow Pardinas to answer questions about the attack, saying that it was still under investigation. But the officer later said, in Spanish, that he and Morales were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight inside the vehicle when the prisoner attacked. “He caught me by surprise,” Pardinas said. “But he wasn’t expecting me to put up such a fight.”
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Pardinas said that 28 years of police experience and training kicked in, allowing him to fend off the prisoner. Pardinas suffered deep stab wounds to the neck, shoulder and back, as well as a collapsed lung. He was released from Parkland Hospital in Dallas and returned to Miami after exploratory surgery confirmed no severe injuries to any of his organs.
As he spoke with reporters, a dark purple bruise was still visible on his neck.
“This is what we do,” Pardinas said. “This is what I’ve dedicated my life to do.”
Pardinas and another detective had flown into Houston with Morales, but then decided to drive the remainder of the trip after the prisoner became disruptive on the flight. The attack occurred while the two detectives stopped at a Walmart in Grapevine on February 11. They were there to pick up extra supplies and wait for a third officer, who would be joining them in the prisoner transfer. Department policy requires three officers be present for the ground transfer of prisoners.
Morales led DFW area authorities on a five-day manhunt. The 42-year-old was shot dead when found near Lake Grapevine, about three miles away from the location of the attack. He was still wearing his prison-issued jumpsuit and jogging pants when officers tracked him down. Police were able to find him after a robbery at a home near Lake Grapevine, where men’s clothes and jewelry were reported missing.
Sgt. Robert Eberling of the Grapevine Police Department said that Morales was unarmed at the time of the shooting and was not wearing handcuffs. He was, however, holding some sticks. “He was very skilled and crafty as far as making makeshift, edged weapons inside the prison. That was in the forethoughts of the officers. He was able to almost kill an officer with some eyeglasses,” Eberling said.
Miami-Dade Police Department director J.D. Patterson said that the agency was conducting a review of the incident. He declined to answer further questions about department policy. “We’re going to make the necessary changes to allow everybody, the entire country if you will, to learn from this incident,” Patterson said.
Before leaving North Texas, Pardinas was able to visit the location where Morales was shot and killed. Pardinas said that he needed to do that for his own sense of closure. Even as he lay in his hospital bed, “I wanted to be part of this investigation,” he said.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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