Magazine article Corrections Today

DAVID C. KNAPPS A TRUE Hero

Magazine article Corrections Today

DAVID C. KNAPPS A TRUE Hero

Article excerpt

Capt. David C. Knapps' life and death epitomize what it means to be a true public servant. Knapps was brutally murdered in the line of duty for refusing to surrender his keys to six inmates who planned to escape from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1999. Although Knapps was repeatedly stabbed and bludgeoned with a leather craft mallet, he continued to fight for his life and never gave up his keys. Knapps was the first security officer killed at the prison since 1972.

"Knapps' willingness to sacrifice his life in the line of duty exemplifies the incredible commitment shown by our correctional security officers," says Richard Stalder, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and president of the American Correctional Association. He adds, "Capt. Knapps' sacrificing his life is a chilling and somber reminder of the collective call to duty that our staff answers every day to preserve the safety of the citizens of our state."

Due to Knapps' brave actions, the situation did not spread beyond the immediate area, as the inmates blockaded themselves in the education building of a medium-security unit and took two hostages. A tactical team responded to the scene immediately. Stalder and Warden Burl Cain arrived at the scene and began talking to the inmates. Demanding release, the inmates said they wanted an outside telephone line, to see an FBI agent, to see a U.S. attorney from Baton Rouge and to keep all officers off the walkway to the building. Officers were kept off the walks but all other demands were refused. One inmate threatened that if their demands were not met, they would start killing hostages.

Eventually, Cain was able to get three of the inmates to surrender and gained access to the building. Stalder entered and began looking for the hostages. …

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