Double-jointed prisoners beware. There's no fooling Constable Donald Gettys twice.
The constable has only seen someone slip out of handcuffs twice in nearly 50 years in law enforcement, and the second time resulted in his first on-duty injury.
Johnothan Lee Heck allegedly assaulted the 69-year-old constable in April, after his arraignment on theft of a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property charges. Police allege that, while being transported back to York County Prison from the Spring Garden Township office of District Judge Walter Groom, he slipped his cuffs and started choking Gettys with his seat belt.
But with those assault charges pending in Common Pleas Court, Gettys was assigned Wednesday to transport Heck, again, back to Groom's office for another hearing on more theft charges. This time, he took extra precaution -- having a second constable ride along with him.
Gettys said it wasn't fear of the 20-year-old Heck, who remains in prison on $100,000 bail, that motivated the ride-along.
"I just wasn't going to do it alone because I didn't want him to say I said or did something, or injure himself and say I did it," Gettys said. "When you have charges pending against someone ... you know."
Gettys said Wednesday, standing outside Groom's hearing room while Heck sat inside, that he suspects Heck must be double-jointed.
"He can make his hand smaller than his wrist. He didn't even say anything, he just pulled my seatbelt up and started choking," Gettys said, motioning from behind his head.
The incident happened on East Market Street near the intersection with Northern Way in Springettsbury Township. According to police, Gettys was able to free himself and drove to the prison, where Heck was removed by correction officers.
Gettys suffered a minor abrasion to the top of his scalp, but says he has otherwise moved past the incident.
"Well, there's a first time for everything," he said. "After today, he'll be transported by the sheriffs ... because his cases are in Common Pleas."
Gettys said the prison has other methods of restraining Heck so he's not a danger to officers.
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