Detention officer's ear bitten, thanks inmates for helping her

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By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais

PHOENIX -- A Maricopa County sheriff's detention officer, whose ear was bitten off by an arrestee, is thanking other inmates who came to her aid.

Officer Rachel Harris was conducting a cell search in Lower Buckeye Jail on Monday when inmate Bobby Ruiz ran in, jumped on her back and bit off part of her right ear. Investigators say Ruiz was already in jail for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but was in general population, meaning he was allowed to roam the day area.

"The only thing I was thinking at that point was to get extra officers in there so they could help us get this guy out of there, and get me out, without any further injuries," Harris said.

Several inmates rushed to Harris' aid and fought with Ruiz until other deputies got there less than 25 seconds later. One of those inmates is Andrew Davis.

"We all make mistakes, so if it's good to try to correct one of the mistakes I made, then it was definitely a blessing for me to do that," Davis said. "I'm just thankful to have been in the position to help somebody."

Harris underwent surgery Monday evening. She'll have to have more cosmetic procedures to fix her ear but is expected to make a full recovery.

"All I can say is thank you. I'm grateful they were there to help me. You respect them, they respect you," Harris said.

It's a bit of deja vu for Ruiz.  He now faces an additional charge of aggravated assault, this one on a law enforcement professional. He's being punished on lockdown with bread and water, while the inmates who helped Harris are being rewarded with pizza.