MACON, Ga. — Wednesday marks one year since a 30-year-old Bibb County jailer was stabbed in the neck and killed in the line of duty.
The GBI says Deputy Christopher Knight and four or five other jailers were moving inmate Albert Booze from a cell block to a suicide watch cell when Booze grabbed a knife from Knight’s hip and attacked him.
A year later, his mother Cheryl is talking about her path to healing and what her son said about his job before his death.
“Very challenging, very lonely… I miss him a lot,” she said.
She says her son’s coworkers, along with her friends and family, have guided her through the worst. But one of the biggest hands in her healing is someone with the smallest -- the daughter he left behind.
“She’s so much like him. It’s almost like I’m starting over with him, but now I have a girl version of him,” she said.
Zemirah Knight is now three years old.
“She talks about her dad all the time. We don’t even have to remind her, she reminds us of who her daddy is,” said Cheryl.
Lulu (as her family calls her) carries a daily reminder of her dad – a doll dressed in his uniform, complete with a nametag and a badge over his heart. Cheryl says she’ll tell her granddaughter how her father was a hero.
She also says her son was many things, ‘laidback, easy going, a movie lover, a pizza lover.’ She never wanted him to be a deputy, though.
“I don't know how deputy came into the mix. Christopher always wanted to be an MMA fighter,” said Cheryl.
So, when he told her he planned to take a job as a Bibb County jailer, she was reluctant but supportive.
“I was like, ‘Okay Chris, it’s an honorable job and you’ll be helping your community. Now, I’m not telling you that I’m not going to be scared – because I am – but if that’s what you want to do, I’ll support you,'” recalled Cheryl.
She says her son loved his almost three years as a jailer, but he also talked about the dangers of working behind the barbed wire.
“He said you could look up at any time and the inmates would be outside their cells. That the locks didn't work well,” she said. “I told him to be careful, just be careful. I prayed for him all the time. I always asked God to cover him in his blood before he went to work.”
Then a call came on April 6, 2021.
“I just knew,” said Cheryl. “I knew something happened to him. I said, ‘Please just tell me my baby’s okay, please.’”
When she made it to the emergency room, doctors and nurses were trying to save his life. He didn’t make it.
When asked why her son died, Cheryl didn’t fully set the blame at the feet of the man accused of killing him.
“Ultimately, it wasn't safe as it should’ve have been in that jail. It just wasn't as safe as it should have been,” she said.
She says the jail should have been better staffed and Albert Booze should’ve been receiving treatment at a mental health facility.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I just feel like… what is going to be done? Because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t want any other mother to go through what I’ve gone through.”