Prisons are frightening. The razor wire, the bars on the windows, the sniper-manned towers — all of these elements combine to evoke fear in the hearts of most law-abiding citizens.
Then there are the prisoners themselves, many of them hulking offenders who might be just as happy assaulting you as looking at you — right?
Well, Parker County, Texas, jail guard Gary Grimm would beg to differ with that opinion.
On June 23, 2016, Grimm was watching over eight inmates locked behind a gate in the depths of the Parker County District Courthouse.
The last thing he remembered about that particular room was watching it tilt over and go black.
See, while on guard duty, Grimm had a massive heart attack. In fact, it was so dramatic that the prisoners couldn’t actually believe it was happening.
“They thought I was kidding,” he told WHAS. “I wasn’t.”
This was a moment made for paperback thrillers and midsummer movies, the instant when the beleaguered prisoners could break free and escape. And break free they most certainly did.
Realizing that their captor had fallen unconscious and had no pulse, the eight inmates quickly forced the door to their cell.
But rather than run for freedom, they started making so much noise that courtroom deputies came to investigate.
What the inmates did to call attention to them likely saved Grimm’s life. Instead of breaking out with access to his gun and keys, they chose to help save him.
“He had keys, had a gun,” Parker County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Speegle explained to WFAA. “It could have been an extremely bad situation.”
Instead, Grimm got another lease on life, a lease that authorities said wouldn’t have happened if not for the actions of the prisoners.
“He could have been there 15 minutes before any other staff walked in and found him,” Capt. Mark Arnett said.
Currently awaiting a heart transplant, Grimm wants everyone to know that even those who have lashed out against society deserve to be treated with dignity. “I don’t care if they’re a drug user, hot-check writer, or child molester.
“They’re still a human being. I don’t have to like what they did, but it’s not my position to be the judge and jury.”
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