A judge sentenced a 24-year-old man to 15 years and four months in prison Monday for hitting a Tumwater police officer in the head twice with a hammer last year after the officer had entered an apartment complex, looking for a runaway.
The suspect, Mark Thomas, earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and custodial assault.
Thomas' custodial assault charge was for hitting a corrections officer in the head with a metal coffee cup two months after he assaulted the officer. The corrections officer needed stitches after Thomas' second attack at the Thurston County Jail.
Tumwater Police Officer Austin Cady, 28, was looking for a teenage girl who had run away from home on the night of Sept. 9 when he was ambushed by Thomas.
Cady and three other officers went to an apartment in the 300 block of T Street SW, on a tip that the girl was there with Thomas, who had a state Department of Corrections warrant for his arrest at the time.
Cady was the first through the door of the apartment when Thomas, who was hiding in a bathroom, jumped him and struck him twice in the head with a hammer.
Cady, present in court for Monday's sentencing hearing before Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon, said he struggled to maintain consciousness after two officers came to his aid.
"The blood began to pour from my head uncontrollably," he said. One officer later remarked that he thought Cady had been shot, because there was so much blood.
Cady missed four months of work after the attack, but has recovered and is now back to unrestricted active duty with TPD, Tumwater Police Detective Jen Kolb said.
"We're glad to have him back" Kolb said.
In a courtroom that was filled with Tumwater police, Cady told Thomas that he does not bear him any ill-will, but told him he hopes he finds the help he needs as he embarks on his journey through prison.
Cady said the recovery from his injuries has not always been easy. But he added, "with the support of my friends and my family I have become a much stronger officer."
Cady also spoke about how he became a police officer because he wanted to help people. He told Thomas that although he may have been robbed of time during his recovery, "you can't rob me of my commitment and dedication to this community."
Thousands of police officers in the United States are assaulted in the line of duty every year, Cady said.
At the time of Cady's assault, he had been with TPD for under a year, after moving to Washington from Idaho, where he worked at the Kootenai Sheriff's Office in Idaho.
A victim's advocate also read a letter to the court by Cady's wife, describing the "nightmare," of having a police officer come to her door the night of the attack to tell her her husband was in the hospital.
Thomas did not apologize for his actions during Monday's sentencing hearing. Thomas' attorney, Alexander Frix, said his client had been injecting narcotics, including methamphetamine, prior to the assault.
Thomas has a long criminal history, including a prior felony conviction for assault and for violating a no-contact order.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; email@example.com