HARTFORD - A Connecticut police officer who was stabbed in the neck and gravely wounded by an apartment building tenant was identified Friday as a 12-year veteran of the force who was honored for saving a baby's life in 2015.
Authorities said Officer Jill Kidik was in critical, but stable, condition at Hartford Hospital after undergoing hours of surgery.
“This morning ... she opened her eyes. She is alert and staying strong,” Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said in a Twitter post Friday.
City police officers gathered in force to show support for Kidik outside Hartford Superior Court, where the suspect, 39-year-old Chevoughn Augustin, was arraigned on attempted murder and other charges. A judge set bail at $2 million and continued the case to June 5.
The attack happened Thursday morning, when police responded to a downtown apartment building on a report of a disturbance involving Augustin. She was facing eviction proceedings for what the landlords said was menacing behavior toward other residents.
Authorities said a struggle ensued and Augustin knocked Kidik to the ground, grabbed a ceramic knife, put the officer in a chokehold and repeatedly stabbed her in the neck. Two nearby building maintenance workers who heard the commotion subdued Augustin as other officers arrived and performed life-saving measures, police said.
Officers carried Kidik, who was bleeding badly and could not communicate, to an ambulance that rushed her to the hospital.
“This is obviously a difficult day for law enforcement,” Police Chief David Rosado said Thursday. “It's a bleak reminder that it's a tough job and that it can go awry pretty quickly.”
Rosado called the maintenance workers heroes.
Kidik was honored in 2015 for saving a 1-year-old boy's life the previous fall. Police say she responded to a home where the baby choked on cereal and was not breathing. Authorities say she performed a Heimlich-style maneuver until the baby started to scream, cough and breathe on his own.
In 2011, Kidik made news when she pulled over state Treasurer Denise Nappier while Nappier was driving her state car. Kidik cited Nappier for driving an unregistered vehicle and other infractions and had the car towed away. Nappier, who is black, accused police of racial profiling.
An internal affairs investigation concluded the traffic stop was lawful, and the state Department of Motor Vehicles acknowledged Nappier's car registration had not been entered into a database used by law enforcement. The probe found, however, that Kidik didn't follow proper procedures in checking the registration and car ownership and she had to undergo retraining in motor vehicle laws.
Court records obtained by The Associated Press show the landlords of the Spectra Boutique Apartments where Kidik was stabbed had been trying to evict Augustin, who they say wandered the halls late at night and confronted other residents in a hostile manner, “making them fear for their safety.”
The landlords filed a case against Augustin on May 2, saying she was disturbing residents and disrupting business operations. They also alleged Augustin ordered food to be delivered, refused to respond to the delivery people, accused building staff of stealing the food and slandered staff on the internet.
In court records, Augustin denied the allegations and claimed she was being discriminated against for being Native American and a single female. She was representing herself in the proceedings.
A trial was scheduled to begin June 4.
At Friday's arraignment, Augustin's public defender, Victoria Pells, asked for $500,000 bail but was rejected.
Pells said Augustin was trying to start her own business but was not making money after having worked as a healthcare analyst, The Hartford Courant reported. She also said Augustin volunteered in the community.