Breaking News Emails
A public defender in Broward County, Florida, was punched in the head by an inmate during a hearing for another defendant.
The courtroom assault took place Wednesday morning as an assistant public defender, Julie Chase, was preparing for a Broward judge to set the bond of her defendant, a 39-year-old woman, who was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated stalking, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Chase was taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where she was released before noon, the paper stated.
The person suspected of throwing the punch was later identified as William L. Green, 27, who can be seen on courtroom footage listening to the hearing and holding his chin with his left hand, before abruptly getting up and punching Chase from behind. Seated detainees react in apparent shock, as three courtroom bailiffs rush toward Green who has since fallen to the floor.
There is no indication that Green knew the female defendant whose case was being heard at the time.
NBC News was not immediately able to reach Chase for comment.
"She's pretty shaken up and is recovering. It was both a physical injury and emotional trauma," said the Public Defender's Office's executive chief assistant, Gordon Weekes.
Green was awaiting a hearing following a battery charge for attacking a hospital technician at a mental health facility before the unprovoked attack occurred.
Weekes said the assault suggests there are significant security concerns for public defenders at court hearings, including in appropriately assessing the mental health of inmates.