No police officer ever knows what their days are going to bring. Some days are easy, but it’s the other days, the ones where things happen in the blink of an eye, that present exceptional challenges. I got to talk with Deputy Christian Goode from the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma. Last year, he was involved in a life-and-death encounter that unfolded in a matter of mere seconds. The on-duty stabbing forever changed this deputy sheriff’s life and the way he would respond to calls for the rest of his career.
An On-Duty Stabbing is No Way To Start The Day
Skillset: Christian, can you tell me what happened on Oct. 20, 2017? I know you were looking for Phillip Trammell, a sex offender with outstanding warrants for failing to comply with the sex offender registry, as well as forgery and child support. You went where you believed he was staying.
Christian Goode: I asked the homeowner if she had seen Trammell and she said “no,” so I asked if we could search the house. We already suspected it was a dope house but told her we were looking for him and nothing else. She said we could come inside, and I searched a few of the rooms with my flashlight.
There was one last room on the right where I noticed a mattress and laundry all over the floor. I felt our suspect was in that room, so I checked the rest of the house and then asked Officer Brad Roberts, who was outside, to help with the search. We went into the room and looked around and then gave the mattress that was covered with clothes a few kicks to see if anyone was underneath. I saw some skin that I thought was his back. I then moved about eight feet away. The room was really small. Normally, it’s like hide-and-seek, and once you find whoever is hiding, they give up.
The Attack Begins
Skillset: I saw the video, and Trammell looks like a crazed Jack-in-the-Box! What happened when you saw him?
Christian Goode: I commanded him to show me his hands, and he immediately jumped up and started hollering, “Fuck you, I’m gonna kill you all! You motherfuckers get out! Shoot me!” He had a look in his eyes that told me he was under the influence and we were likely going to have a fight. He was acting tough and was bigger than me. I saw him reach into his back pocket quickly. He took out a knife. I remember that “pop” sound a knife makes when you flip it.
At this point, we were pretty close to each other — about four to five feet apart. There’s this “21-Foot Rule” they teach us in the police academy, which means a person can strike you with a knife quicker than you can draw your gun and shoot them. I knew what was going to happen next when he drew the knife, and I remember saying in my head, “No, no, I’m too close. This will be bad, and I may not go home to my wife and kids.” I dropped my baton and drew my gun.
The Fight of His Life
Skillset: So, you had almost no time before the fight started. What did he do?
Christian Goode: Officer Roberts fired his taser, but it did not deploy; the cartridge did not open. When I dropped my baton to get my gun, Trammell simultaneously lunged forward with a haymaker punch and hit me in the abdomen. The knife was approximately four to five inches long and about two and a half inches plunged into my ballistic vest. I later learned that it stopped shy of one millimeter from my chest cavity. All the while I was trying to fire at him, and as I lifted my left arm, he stabbed me again in my shoulder. The blade went in and came up.
In the aftermath of the on-duty stabbing, there would be a ball of tissue sticking out the top of my shoulder. I continued to fire, and he struck me a third time below my right chest. This time, the blade went in but didn’t come out of my vest. Trammell eventually went down. As he was going down, I remember shooting at him and my firearm being jammed (perhaps because of the close-quarter engagement; it pressed against his body and pushed the slide back without ejecting the ammunition). In total, eight rounds were fired from my service weapon, with five hitting Trammel and finally stopping the attack. I’ve been in some tight situations and have had tunnel vision before, but this was extremely close.
Christian Goode: Injured but Alive
Skillset: How serious were your injuries, and how did this on-duty stabbing affect you?
Christian Goode: After the altercation, the first thing I felt was my arm burning; my stomach felt like it had been punched. We were going to have to wait for an ambulance. Assistant Chief Tim Keith, who was at the scene, transported me to the hospital. By the time we got into the vehicle, my arm was covered with blood. I remember him asking if I had been stabbed in the stomach. At first, I didn’t think so, but I stuck my hand underneath my vest and saw the blood. All I could think to do was to try to relax. I had pressure on it, and we were heading to the hospital — about a 10-minute ride — so it wasn’t long before I got medical attention.
While it was the worst pain I had ever felt, my injuries were non-life threatening and did not require surgery. The doctor explained how lucky I was to be alive — by one millimeter. No organs were perforated, and the force of the stab went between my ribs, so nothing was broken. I was saved thanks to my Quantum ballistic armor, which absorbed a significant amount of the impact. I was treated and later released. Unfortunately, Mr. Trammell did not survive his gunshot wounds.
The Aftermath of an On-Duty Stabbing
Christian Goode: It was an eye-opening experience. I’ve arrested offenders for murder and other serious crimes before. However, to think that this individual, with a warrant on him for child support and forgery, could have cost me my life is something I will never forget. From the time the suspect jumped up to when he went down, it was about eight to nine seconds; it was lightning fast.
It took me about six weeks to heal. Every day, I feel blessed to be here with my wife, Alana, and our kids, Christian III and Truex, as well as my colleagues, who I’m very thankful to for their support.