Corrections Officer Involved in MCJ Attack Honored for Bravery

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

One of the corrections officers involved in the attack at the Marathon Co. Jail says the memory will forever be sketched in his mind. Denney Woodward says he was punched in the mouth by an inmate while trying to help another officer.

Tuesday afternoon, Woodward received an award for his bravery and spoke about the ordeal. He credits extensive training for his quick action when things got out of control at the jail--action that prevented things from getting even worse.

"We're trained to go after the person, focus on the person, to secure him from causing any other harm to any other officers or any other inmates," Woodward said.

The 12-year corrections officer was given the Sheriff's Commendation Award, though the honor is bittersweet.

"In a way I feel good and I'd do it again," he said. "But I also feel bad because she's in the hospital."

The other officer involved in the attack, Julie Christensen, is still in the Intensive Care Unit at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. Deputies say she was knocked unconscious by inmate Fredrick Morris on March 27, 2013.

"We deal with uncooperatives a lot in the jail, incomings who are intoxicated or mentally unstable," Woodward said. "But nothing like this before."

The jail has faced scrutiny since the incident, after a report showed it's understaffed and unsafe. Changes have now been put in place. Woodward, along with every other officer, is armed with a taser. Looking back, he's not sure a weapon would have made a difference.

"I don't think being armed would have mattered," he said. "It happened so quick. Staffing level--you can always have more. But you have to do what you have to do."

Woodward's main priority moving forward is making sure Christensen is OK.

"Everyday I go to work, I always think about her," Woodward said. "And I wish she gets well and I pray for her everyday."

Christensen will receive a Purple Heart once she is out of the hospital.


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