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Correctional Officer Cody Washburn and Senior Officer Specialist Larry Avitia

Federal Bureau of Prisons, FL

On September 18, 2015, Officers Cody Washburn and Larry Avitia were assigned as the housing unit officers at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, which houses 128 convicted high-security felons. While Officer Washburn was performing his security rounds inside the unit, he was viciously assaulted by an inmate. The inmate walked up behind Officer Washburn with a prison-made knife and attempted to stab him in the neck. Officer Washburn was able to deflect the blow and sought to evade the attack by maneuvering toward the officer's station, where his partner Officer Avitia was performing administrative duties.

The inmate continued pursuing Officer Washburn, yelling that he was going to kill him, while repeatedly attempting to stab him in his upper torso area. At this point, Officer Avitia responded to the aid of Officer Washburn, who had fallen to the floor of the office exhausted from the struggle and pursuit. The inmate attempted to enter the office to continue his assault, but Officer Avitia placed himself between the inmate and Officer Washburn. The inmate then struck Officer Avitia with the weapon. As Officer Avitia pushed the inmate to the outside of the office, he grabbed a chair in an attempt to ward off the attack.

The struggle between the inmate and Officers Avitia and Washburn continued, with both officers receiving injuries inflicted by the knife-wielding inmate. At one point, after Officer Washburn received an additional stab wound and fell to the ground, Officer Avitia grabbed a canister of OC spray and administered one blast to the face of the inmate, which had no effect. The inmate was eventually taken to the ground, and Officer Washburn was able to gain control of the weapon as both he and Officer Avitia detained the inmate until further assistance arrived.

Both officers were taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. Some of the stab wounds to Officer Washburn’s abdomen were stopped by the stab-resistant vest he wore.

The actions of Officers Washburn and Avitia demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to their own personal safety.