The Miami-Dade police detective stabbed by a prisoner he was transporting near Dallas said Thursday one thought ran through his mind as he was being attacked: "I'm not going down."
"That's what we're trained to do," Miami-Dade Police Department Det. Jaime Pardinas told reporters after his return to Miami. "We're trained to survive."
Pardinas and another detective were transporting Alberto Morales from Miami to Nevada to serve a 30-year-to-life sentence for sexual assault when the prisoner attacked him with the sharp piece of a pair of eyeglasses.
At a news conference Thursday, officials declined to let Pardinas answer any questions about the attack, saying it was still under investigation. However, Pardinas later said in Spanish that he and Morales were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight inside the vehicle when the prisoner attacked.
"He caught me by surprise,, but he wasn't expecting me to put up such a fight," Pardinas said. "There are mostly puncture wounds to my back and to my chest. He tried getting to my eyes but all the training over 28 years kicked in."
Morales said 28 years of police experience and training kicked in, allowing him to fend off the prisoner. Pardinas suffered deep stab wounds to the neck, shoulder and back and a collapsed lung. He was released from the hospital and returned to Miami after exploratory surgery confirmed no severe injuries to any of his organs. As he spoke with reporters, a dark purple bruise was still visible on his neck.
"This is what we do," Pardinas said. "This is what I've dedicated my life to do."
Pardinas also thanked colleagues who welcomed him home with signs and balloons on Tuesday.
"That was a pretty emotional moment," he said. "We don't do this for the praise. It was very comforting to know that all of these people were there for me."
Pardinas and another detective had flown to Houston with Morales but then decided to drive the remainder of the trip after the prisoner became disruptive on the flight.
The attack occurred while the detectives were stopped near a Wal-Mart in Grapevine, Texas, on Feb. 11, to wait for a third officer who was going to join them. Department policy requires that three officers be present for ground transfer of prisoners.
Morales, 42, was fatally shot when he resisted arrest after a five-day manhunt. He was still wearing his prison-issued jumpsuit as well as jogging pants when officers tracked him down.
Grapevine Police Sgt. Robert Eberling has said Morales, 42, was unarmed at the time of the shooting and was not wearing handcuffs. He was holding some sticks.
"He was very skilled and crafty as far as making makeshift, edged weapons inside the prison. That was in the forethoughts of the officers. He was able to almost kill an officer with some eyeglasses," Eberling said.
Miami-Dade Police Department director J.D. Patterson said the agency would conduct a review of the incident. He declined to answer any questions about department policy.
"We're going to make the necessary changes to allow everybody, the entire country if you will, to learn from this incident," Patterson said.
Before leaving Texas, Pardinas was able to visit the spot where Morales was shot. Pardinas said he needed to do so as a detective, and for his own sense of closure.
Even as he lay in his hospital bed, "I wanted to be part of this investigation," he said.