Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

A 37-year-old Georgia inmate will spend the next 55 years in a state prison for attacking a 20-year-old correctional officer and throwing her off a balcony by her hair, causing her to fall 12 feet onto a block partition, according to reports.

After a three-day trial, Patrick O’Neil Gentry, 37, was found guilty Wednesday of criminal attempt to commit malice murder, aggravated battery and obstruction of an officer in the 2020 attack. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Dusty Hightower to serve 55 years.

Because Gentry has seven prior felony convictions, his prison sentence must be served without the possibility of parole, Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herb Cranford said.

“Every member of law enforcement in our community goes to work every day knowing that they are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve our community,” Cranford said in a statement Friday. “It is a debt we cannot repay. However, when a criminal seeks to harm a law enforcement officer, the District Attorney’s Office will do its part to see that criminals like Patrick Gentry receive substantial prison sentences.”

On Jan. 12, 2020, Carroll jail officers were conducting cell searches for blankets and laundry bags that were being hoarded by inmates. One of the officers, Harlee Rood, had confiscated a laundry bag from Gentry’s cell when he snatched it from her, “grabbed her by the hair and clothes, dragged her out of the cell, and threw her under the railing off the 2nd-floor balcony,” Cranford said.

Gentry then ran for the stairs toward the ground floor, seemingly to continue his attack on Rood, the district attorney said. However, his cellmate chased him down and grappled with him at the top of the stairs until other officers arrived to take him back into custody.

Rood suffered a compression fracture of one of her vertebrae after falling on the concrete partition that divides the cell block’s showers, officials said.

Sheriff Terry Langley, speaking after the incident, said the injured officer had been an asset to his office for a little more than two years and is highly respected by both her coworkers and jail inmates, “as is clear by their willingness to assist her in a dangerous situation.”

Gentry had been housed at the jail since August 2019 after being booked on charges of forgery, criminal damage to property, providing false information to law enforcement and terroristic threats and acts.

Following the guilty verdict, the sheriff’s office said that, while it “does not heal the injured officer of the lasting emotional and physical effects she still suffers from today, we do hope she finds some peace in knowing that Gentry will more than likely spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.”

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born |