Gene Lee, a Lower Buckeye Jail detention officer, died Wednesday, Oct. 30, from injuries sustained in an attack by an inmate.
Lee served six years with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
To honor Lee, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags, at all state buildings, lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Oct. 31.
“Arizona deeply mourns the loss of Detention Officer Gene Lee, whose life was taken far too soon,” said Ducey. “As a six-year veteran of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Lee put his life on the line to ensure the safety of his fellow citizens and officers.
“Our hearts go out to the entire Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and our prayers are with Officer Lee’s family and loved ones.”
The governor’s office said Lee, who was 64, is survived by his wife, daughter and son.
At a press conference, MCSO Sheriff Paul Penzone reported inmate David Davitt attacked Lee.
“While at work, without any initial interaction leading him to believe there’s a potential threat, (Lee) was attacked by an inmate,” Penzone disclosed. “The inmate caught him off-guard, grabbed him by his throat and then swept his legs out from under so aggressively that when he was knocked off balance and thrown to the floor, the first part of his body to strike the cement was his head.”
While other officers detained Davitt, responders rushed Lee to a hospital. He was in a coma before he passed away.
The MCSO issued a statement shortly after Lee passed away:
“Earlier tonight, Detention Officer Lee, surrounded by his family, passed away. Under these tragic circumstances and out of respect for the Lee family, MCSO will not be making any further statements tonight.
“Please keep the entire Lee family, friends and his MCSO colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”