Editor Note: This story is graphic and may be difficult for some people to read. It also contains graphic images.
Christine MacIntyre Hurley was attacked while on duty, having her throat slit. Thankfully, she survived, and she joined us to tell her story, which can be found here.
The entire reason we launched LET Unity was to give a voice to officers like Christine who have never been able to tell their stories. It’s a tragic story – but also one filled with hope. With lessons. And with a dose of reality that America needs.
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I took my revolver out and I put it in my mouth, and I prayed. I said, “God forgive me for what I’m about to do, but I’m losing my marriage, I’m losing my life with my family, I’m losing my job and I just I can’t take it anymore.”
My name is Christine MacIntyre Hurley and I live in south Florida.
I’m originally from New York.
I joined the transit police New York City Transit Police Department in 1987.
Back then there were three departments – NYPD, New York City Housing and New York City Transit Police. They’ve since merged, and now everybody works under the NYPD. But back then I was a transit police officer, which we patrolled the subways.
It was right around Christmas. And usually, it’s really beautiful in New York City. Very busy.
I had been patrolling and I went to into the subway to meet a train.
I was doing 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. in the morning and I was boarding some trains to get to the train that I was assigned that evening.
What I would normally do is, one of my training officers had always reminded me, to go to the conductor’s position to tell them that you’re boarding the train, so if something happens, they know that you’re there.
So, I did that.
Boarded the train. Saw a lot of people that I went to the academy with.
There are musicians in the subway playing holiday music so it was very uppity, you know, very, very cheerful. I was really happy.
I got onto the train.
We started heading towards 59th and Lex (Lexington Avenue), and the motorman, the person that’s driving the subway, stopped the subway in the middle of the tunnel. The conductor came to me and said that there was somebody on the catwalk.
Now, if you don’t know what the catwalk is, the catwalk is about 19 inches long and it runs the whole entire subway system, for the most part, so that when there’s construction being done, the workers can walk on the catwalk.
It was cold obviously.
I remember at Roll Call, we were told to kind of be kind to the homeless, you know that there’s tons of homeless people. The majority of them are probably emotionally disturbed.
So, you’re to take these homeless people, if they’re in the system and they shouldn’t be there, and escort them out of the system. Don’t make any problems. Don’t arrest them.
So, when I heard from the conductor that there was somebody walking on the catwalk, of course, that’s a danger to a person when trains are riding through. I go and bring him into the train car and escort them off the system.
So, the train was stopped in the tunnel; the conductor opened the door and I’m looking out.
Now, like I said, between the wall of the subway and the train it’s about 19 inches. So, I looked out and I see this guy coming towards me. My whole thought is to bring him into the train, and he’s coming towards me. The train’s full with people and he stops and I said I want him to get in.
“Sir, please come onto the train.”
And he stood there and looked at me. Obviously, he was not a normal, everyday person in the subway system on a catwalk. He brushes past me and I said you need to get onto the train. And he pushes me. So, I’m placing him under arrest now, because you touched me.
I said, “Get up against the train wall.”
Now we’re outside on the catwalk. People are all in the car.
Get up against the train and you know I’m going to I’m going to cuff him now.
I don’t have my gun out. I had my nightstick out because it wasn’t to that level.
So, he gets up and I go in to cuff him, he turns around and grabs my head and he slit my throat. So, right away I felt this. I was bleeding and I didn’t have my gun because my gun’s in my holster. I’m in winter uniform.
I have my nightstick. I slammed him over the head three times, and he didn’t go down.
He went crazy.
So, we started fighting and we’re, remember, we’re on 19 inches of catwalk and we’re fighting. And he’s coming down closer and closer to keep striking me with the blade. He’s shredding up my jacket. I have my bulletproof vest on.
He’s slit through the bulletproof vest but didn’t get any further in here.
He slit my arm. Of course, he slit my throat.
And we’re fighting. He’s going further and further down to try to slit my throat again.
And I grabbed on, through the tunnel, there’s this yellow banister.
Now, when I hit him three times, the third time I hit him, my baton flew.
So, I can’t get to my gun because he’s trying to now continue to slash me. I’m unblocking and grab on to the pole and I’m falling back.
And I figured if I’m falling back that’s going to be the end.
So, the pole starts to give way. And as the pole gives way, I mean, I pull it off and I started hitting him with that to get some distance.
And the one half that hit him cracked in half, and he grabbed that and started hitting me with that.
I was able to back up a little bit more and then able to get my gun out.
And by that time, he already turned from me and started walking to the back of the train.
And, of course, the first thing that you learn, you know, you can’t shoot a guy in the back.
He’s no longer coming at me or anybody else for that reason.
So, I start walking and there is no radio contact in the subway, in certain spots.
There are dead spots.
No matter what I’m doing, I had the radio here and I’m calling and calling.
It’s totally, not even, air.
And I keep walking to him, I had my gun drawn.
I want to see where he’s going, but as I’m walking, I’m starting to lose all the feeling in my legs and my hands.
I’m thinking to myself, well, I’m going to bleed out because I’m not going to be able to hold anything anymore.
So, I get down.
I see where he’s going. He jumped down at the end of the train.
He’s now walking across the third rail, the train tracks there, and I’m still trying to get I turned back to go to where the doors were open on the train. I’m still trying to radio in and there’s nothing. Nothing. Nothing!
So, I get into the car and everybody’s screaming. All I hear are people screaming and three people grabbed me, they screamed at people to get up so that they could lay me down and start giving me medical attention.
And, they happened to be three people that work for the airlines. The one girl who had her scarf, took her scarf on and applied it to my neck and kept the pressure there. There was a couple there that were on their honeymoon, and he started playing with the radio and started radioing into operations.
So, they wouldn’t move the train because they were afraid that they might hit this guy. So, they kept the train there.
Finally, when they felt that it was clear, I told them while I was laying there where this guy was and a description. Finally by the time the train got to 59thand Lex, at that at that station, there were that the press was there ready.
That’s how long they had me sitting there.
So, they got me there.
One of the transit cops who I’ve been friends with, for the rest of my life.
I mean, he’s like my brother from another mother.
Joe. Joe McGarry.
He picked me up and he carried me up I think, three flights of stairs, almost fell.
I had my 30 pounds, my belt on and everything and got me up there. By that time, all I saw was sirens and I heard sirens and police cars and they drove me over to Bellevue and they got the guy.
They did a show up. I identified him and they took me into surgery.
Well, I was real happy to be alive.
On one of the reports, which really blew my mind later, on the 61 they call it, they had me D.O.A., but of course, that that was a mistake by whomever wrote the report.
My recovery time was tough.
I had been in physical therapy three times a week for two years, and then two times a week for the year after, but of course, the physical thing was different than the emotional thing.
I think the first thing that I had to pay attention to, was my physical, because I had cuts and bruises. I had staples in my neck. I had stitches inside, stitches outside. I had staples in my arm.
But when I was in Bellevue, one of the guys came up to me and he said:
“Whatever you do after this, if you have any nightmares or any flashbacks, don’t tell the job. Don’t tell them that you’re having any repercussions because they’ll find a reason to fire you.
You know, I really love the job. There was no way I was going to lose this job.
So, shortly after that, I started getting the nightmares. I started getting the flashbacks.
I kept it to myself. I mean, I thought I was dealing with it pretty well.
I was out of work for seven months. I would go back to the doctors, the police doctors, just for them to see how it was. And they wanted to put me back in, at least in a restricted state.
So, I said, “Fine. You know, I’ll do that.”
I wound up going to the operations unit, communications/operations in Brooklyn, down on J Street and it was a slow process because I couldn’t go back like full time.
They were allowing me to come back like a few days a week and that was fine.
But what I saw was every time I would see a homeless person, or every time I heard a call on the radio, I got this copper taste in my mouth, which I had when I got hurt.
You know, I guess it’s the blood taste and I would have like an anxiety attack, but I wouldn’t tell anybody.
You know that was my own gig and I was going to get through it. And I wasn’t going to let anybody know that I was having these things happen to me.
So, I just kept it to myself for a while.
I was still on restricted duty and I was going into work five days a week, whatever.
And I was having nightmares.
I had been married at the time.
The one thing that really, when I reminisce, when I look back, is that when police officers or first responders get into something and they start to feel that emotional hit, and if they’re married or they have a significant other, and their whole psyche is changing and that significant other is not a first responder or they don’t understand why you’re changing and why you’re acting the way you’re acting, that could cause a whole of a snowball effect.
And my ex-husband, he was also in law enforcement. You would figure that you know to people in law enforcement would understand.
Unfortunately, he didn’t understand. And I didn’t know how to explain myself. I didn’t know what was happening to me.
I didn’t know what was how this whole thing was morphing itself and an existing inside of myself because it was another existence that was occurring, and I had no control over it whatsoever?
So, in order to bury it or deny it or whatever, I started drinking and I started drinking heavily, because every night I would have nightmares.
And, in order for me to be able to fall asleep, I would drink until I felt tired and fall asleep. So, I would wake up go to work and my…the office that I worked in, it was the operations unit and the operations unit was, everything’s going on.
You had all the radios that were taking all the calls and so it was a dispatch station.
So, I would hear all the calls coming in.
And anytime I heard a 10-13, that’s ‘officer down,’ and that’s what I was calling, 10-13, I would get that copper taste in my mouth automatically.
And as unfair as I think it was then, that I was going through this, to the people that I worked around, I just loved this job so very much. I didn’t want to give in to what was happening to me.
So, my ex-husband, my husband at the time, we were fighting constantly, all the time.
He didn’t understand why I was losing all my ability to socialize.
I couldn’t go out. I used to exercise all the time; I couldn’t exercise all the time.
I was losing weight.
I was, the flashbacks were coming more and more.
I started talking to a couple of my friends from the police self-support group and some of them were going through the same thing.
So, that was good to know that I wasn’t alone.
One day, one of the morning shows came and interviewed some of us from the police self-support group, and listening to myself talk, because I hadn’t been talking to really anybody about anything.
It really opened up the wound tenfold.
So, I went home, and I basically just crashed and I was a mess.
I mean it’s embarrassing to say how low I was.
I wasn’t getting along with my husband.
I wasn’t talking to any of my friends.
The majority of my friends didn’t understand what I was going through.
I wasn’t eating.
I was crying.
I would sit in the corner of the house and just cry. And then I would have to get up and go to work and try to put on a totally different face and try to get through the day.
My rock bottom consisted of having a fight with my husband.
He went off to work and I sat on the couch.
I took my revolver out, I put it in my mouth, and I prayed. I said God forgive me for what I’m about to do, but I’m losing my marriage. I’m losing my life with my family. I’m losing my job and I just I can’t take it anymore.
And the phone rang and one of my friends, Tommy, who knew what I was going through…and I don’t know why I stopped what I was doing. I got up and I answered the phone, and Tommy said:
“I know what you’re doing and I’m telling you right now I’m coming out there. I’m coming over there right now. Do not let me see you your head blown off on your couch. Do not let me do that!”
So, I just cried, and I said:
“I can’t take it anymore. I can’t take it. I’m an embarrassment.”
Why am I like this? Why couldn’t I be like everybody else that’s been through everything?
So, he came out and when my ex-husband got home, he found out what happened and basically, I relinquished all that I had.
Whatever little faith I had in still being a police officer, I had to just relinquish it totally. I spoke to a psychiatrist.
I mean, there’s other things that had happened.
I had gone to a retired transit police officer who was doing psychology, you know, he was a psychologist for cops a year before that.
He told me that I had post-traumatic stress, severe, and I needed to address it then and I wouldn’t do it.
So, again I denied it and buried it.
So, at this point a year later, this is what came out.
So, from that point I had to go to the hospital because I tried that once and I wanted to kill myself.
I just didn’t want to live anymore.
I went to the hospital. Nassau County Medical Center has a psych ward there.
My ex-husband drove me. I had a lot of people behind me at that time that didn’t want to see me go away.
I went to the hospital.
I think I had some anti-depressants or something. Literally, I had to kind of drug myself to go there because I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
And from that point on, it was freaking disgusting.
It was horrible.
Even though I went there, it was a nightmare because once I got in there, they had to examine me.
They had to find out why I was there.
I explained to them whatever I had to. A few hours later they took me upstairs in a wheelchair to the psych ward and I really wish I was dead at that point.
I really can’t even explain to you riding in the wheelchair.
They opened…they had to get buzzed in. These big steel doors opened and then they closed and then another set of steel doors open.
I am walking into a freaking prison. Me!
Here I was, acting as a first responder, a police officer, helping people, trying to make sure everything’s going really great for everybody walking the streets or the subways.
And here I’m walking in, I’m being ridden into a lockdown facility.
Not only that, but I got strip searched when I took a shower.
They had to have somebody there watching me.
It was awful. It was disgusting.
But even before that, if I can go back a little bit, before I hit that rock bottom?
What happened? The transit authority is who we were working for at the time.
The doctors and the transit authority really wanted me to quit.
They played so many head games on me on that it was inconceivable to see that they could do this to some people. They brought me to a brink where they would bring me in. They would say, “OK. Be here today.”
I will go in there at 6:00 in the morning because I wanted to get out. I wanted to go in and get out.
They would bring me in.
I wouldn’t get out there until eleven o’clock. They would make me sit there and wait. And wait and wait. I’m going through all this PTSD and I’m telling them I’m not well. I’m trying to get help trying.
And at that time, they really didn’t look at you going to psychologists, a psychiatrist. If I went to anybody it had to be hush hush.
I go in there. They examine me and I’m standing outside, because I want to hear what they have to say.
And the doctor says:
“She’s fine. Put her back on the street.”
I walked in and said:
“You heard me. You’re fine. Go back out there.”
And I lost it. I ran up to her or him; I can’t even remember at this stage right now, and I almost threw them out the window.
So, I was really losing it at that point. I really was, because I figured:
“My God, I almost lost my life for you people.”
This is how you treat officers? You don’t help them.
And that’s why now it’s so important that they do that, that they help the cops, because you could be hurt physically, really hurt terribly. Then emotionally, if you’re hurt, you have to hide it.
Some police organizations are addressing that, but a lot aren’t.
And they’re still in denial and they still don’t let them heal in that respect.
So, from that point on, I had to have a sergeant and a PBA trustee.
He would always have to be there with me, with the sergeant.
And then shortly after that, that’s when I had that that breakdown.
Being in that that place, I had to sit around with people that were arrested because of drug charges and stuff and mingle with these other people.
I went down to 88 pounds.
It was sickening. It was horrible for me.
Well, you have to go through stages in order to get out (the hospital).
So, I got out after a month. I was in there for a month, and really, I’m not proud saying all this.
But if I can help one person and see that there are ways that this doesn’t happen to them, I don’t want this to happen to anybody.
But, if it happens, there’s a way, there’s hope, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
But I don’t want anybody to get to where I was to have to go through what I did.
The departments need to address that.
Police departments, first responders, whoever they’re working for, they need to address that too.
So, how did I get out of that?
I just, you know, baby steps.
Baby steps and my faith. I have very strong…if I didn’t have God in my life I would definitely not be here.
I miss it all. That’s why I’m involved in different police organizations because I didn’t get a chance to do anything that I wanted to do.
But when I got out, I had the opportunity to do different levels of police volunteer work and that’s what has kept me going with my transit police. I’m doing things with them.
The reunions. 10-13. F.O.P. Badge of Life. I’m with the Badge of Life team, South Florida.
That’s another police organization. I’m very honored and humbled.
So, God said I’m not going to be able to be that in that capacity.
But He gave me other avenues. I was in that book Cop Shock.
What’s awesome about NYPD, and I’ll tell you this, is the group that helped me survive is the police self-support group.
Absolutely amazing people.
They came when I was going through the academy. They came to the academy to tell us, “Hey listen, this will happen.”
There were a few guys.
Richie Pasteurella. Kathy Berg. Tony Sam. T
They would go to the academy and have like one of the last classes and tell them that “look at us. This is what could happen to you on your job, but you know, it’s okay. We have an organization here to support you.”
I went up to them at the end of their speech and I thanked them.
I thought that they just had more guts than anything else to get up in front of the academy classes and do this presentation.
And the ironic thing was that when I was in Bellevue convalescing, they came to see me.
And from that point on, I joined the organization and I started doing the talks too. All the people that go into their group, they’re amazing.
That was a great thing to have.
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