BONNE TERRE, Mo. – A female prison guard who was stabbed and beaten on the job says the state has abandoned her because she’s too injured to return to work.
In August 2020, Erin Bray was just six months into her job as a corrections officer at the prison in Bonne Terre. She says she was trying to move a violent offender, who had requested protective custody.
What happened next was a violent beating where she was stomped and stabbed in the head.
Bray said the offender “…apparently had a prison made weapon, (he) knocked me down, kicked me, stomped on me face down. I was beaten on the right side of my head.”
That inmate was serving life for murder. Reports from Missouri Corrections Union members that day said, “Please keep our sister in your prayers tonight as she recovers from this horrific beating.”
Bray is speaking out for the first time to say she’s not ok. She says she even talks the way she does because of brain damage.
“I lost a career,” she said. “I was so into it. I was training, because as soon as I hit my one year, I wanted to apply to be on the CERT team, which is like the special response team. I wanted every training that I could possibly get my hands on because I wanted to succeed.”
She said she just couldn’t make it back to work.
“To this day, I have balance issues. Offenders see you off balance and tripping, they’re gonna go, ‘Sheesh, she’ll be a piece of cake!’” Bray said.
“I was terminated for abandoning my post, when I couldn’t physically handle going back to the prison.”
She got workers’ compensation at the start until she said state doctors told her she was ready to return to the prison.
“Before medical professionals thought I was capable of coming back,” Bray said.
Her attorney, August Maytas, added, “Her private medical staff said, ‘What are these people trying to do?’”
She hired Maytas with the Laclede Law Clinic to get answers.
“When I tried to obtain documents and information as discovery, my phone calls were not returned, my letters were not answered, there was a disregard for everything,” Maytas said.
Maytas says he may have to sue to get his client’s own jail reports.
“We’re also asking for video – ‘Well we don’t have videos,’ (they tell me). You don’t have videos?! Well, my gosh, you have a camera mounted here!” he said.
Maytas says the DOC maintained there was no video. But in a bizarre twist, Bray and Maytas said they saw video of the beating. They say it was played in the attacker’s recent criminal trial. The inmate, already serving life for murder, now has an additional assault conviction for Bray’s beating that August day.
“He’s in there for life. He will probably never get out, but life for him is not going to change,” Bray said. “My life is completely changed.”
The Missouri Department of Corrections has not answered FOX 2’s requests for comment with anything more than, “The department does not have a comment.”
We’ll track what may come out in Bray’s possible future lawsuit.