Attorney for Family of Slain Corrections Officer Says He Was Essentially a 'Sitting Duck'

August 17, 2018 05:54 PM

An attorney retained by the family of a corrections officer killed at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater in July said no decisions have yet been made on a potential wrongful death lawsuit.

The comments came following a court appearance Friday morning for the inmate accused of killing Joseph Gomm on an upgraded grand jury indictment in Washington County.

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Edward Muhammed Johnson is facing two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault in connection to the fatal assault on Gomm on July 18.

"My primary job at this time is to ascertain all the facts that led up to the tragedy," attorney Michael Padden said. "We are currently in the investigative phase at this point. No decision has been made on whether there will be a lawsuit, who will be sued, etc.

"Certainly due to the hard mark of the media, facts have come to light that are extremely disturbing. And believe me, we have been paying attention. Our investigation will take months and no decision will likely be made about civil litigation until after the Johnson criminal case is over."

But Padden said Gomm had confided to family members that prison hierarchy "seemed ambivalent" about the safety of corrections officers.

"He said 'It's going to take one of us to die before any changes become reality,'" Padden said.

"In essence, Joe was a sitting duck and he knew it."

Johnson had previously been charged with second-degree murder and assault, but the charges were upgraded this week. His next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 2, 2018.

RELATED: Charges Upgraded for Suspect in Corrections Officer Death

According to the original criminal complaint filed in connection to the case, officers and medical personnel responded to a call of a staff assault at the prison just after 1:30 p.m.

Responders found Gomm with substantial injuries to his head and face in the M Shop on the third floor of Building 20.

He was transported to Regions Hospital, where he later died. His cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries to his head.

Gomm also had two puncture wounds to his chest, according to the complaint.

Johnson is still in prison, having been convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend in 2002.

Joseph Gomm Coverage

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Frank Rajkowski

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