Interview with Michael Smith
QUESTION 28
TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

Okay, just describe being brought up to the catwalk and then all the things you felt, even when you couldn't see them, what happened to you.

MICHAEL SMITH:

Once removed from the, ah--

MICHAEL SMITH:

Once removed from the hostage area in D Yard, I was led blindfolded to the top of the catwalk and although I was blindfolded the, uh, conversation of the inmates that surrounded me, ah, indicated that there were sharpshooters with guns on the roofs, rooftops located around us and the, the signal for those sharpshooters to open fire was to be when a helicopter flew over head and dropped a pro- gas, gas projectile down into the yard. Upon the explosion of that gas projectile the sharpshooters were to fire. And I recall when that helicopter flew overhead, besides being able to hear it, you could actually feel the concussion of the propellers from the helicopter overhead**. And then the, ah, I could hear the bang of the, ah, or the pop of the gas projectile and then the, ah, forces retaking the prison opened fire and that seemed to last forever. It was a period of, ah, probably 10 minutes but at the time it seemed like forever. You could hear all kinds of gun fire, ah, shotguns, handguns, automatic weapon, automatic weapons, rifles and you could hear the bullets hitting around you. Ah, I can remember as soon as the, ah, firing started, feeling it up straight in the chair that I was sitting in and at that point I was hit and I was hit, ah, four times in the abdomen and fell to the roof of the catwalk which was directly below me. And, ah, as I lay there, I didn't know what had become of one of my executioners but one lay dead over my legs and, ah, one of the other ones, Don Noble, ah, lay behind me, parallel to me with his body up tight next to mine. And, we lay there and I was conscious during the time. It was, ah, very painful and I can recall seeing forces through the fog, there was a lot of tear-gas, forces through this fog, that were retaking the prison, run past with, with guns. And at, and at that point there were, there were State Troopers and, and, ah, also correction officers from Attica that came in with the State Troopers to help identify the, ah, officers from the inmate population. And, ah, I can recall looking up and, ah, seeing a, a State Trooper come up to me and at point-blank range, he pointed his gun toward me. And, ah, a correction officer was not far behind and told the State Trooper that I was okay, that I was one of them. He then raised the barrel of the gun and pointed it directly at the inmate Don Noble behind me. And Don asked me, at that time, to tell him who I was, tell them, tell them who he was and, and asked me to tell them what I did for, what he did for me. And I said, "His name is Don Noble and, and he saved my life."

TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

Just tell me that again. Tell me about the trooper coming in and pointing the gun at you and just so you get the hes and the mes right.

MICHAEL SMITH:

After I was shot. I laid on my left side on the top of the catwalk and there was one inmates body, that was one of my executioners, that lay dead over my legs. Another one of my inmate executioners was Don Noble and his body lay parallel to mine, directly behind me. And, as the gunfire started to subside, it became more sporadic, there were people, rescuers, that were using the catwalk, on which I laid, to gain entry to D Yard. And along with the rescuers there was also the retaking force which consisted of State Troopers. One State Trooper in particular, ah, when he got to me, looked down and pointed his gun at me, at point-blank range, and a correction officer that was close by, that recognized me, told him not to shoot, that I was okay, that I was one of them. He then, raised the barrel of the weapon.

TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

Oops, we need to cut, I'm sorry. It's the siren. It's just making the noise, and if we have the film--



TERRY ROCKEFELLER:

What happened as this, the trooper coming in.

MICHAEL SMITH:

As I lay on the catwalk, one of the Troopers that came in with the forces to retake the prison, pointed his weapon at a point-blank range directly toward my head. And, an officer, a correction officer from Attica, that recognized me, that was close by, told him not to shoot, that I was one of them. He then lifted the weapon that was directed at me and, and pointed it at the inmate, Don Noble, who was behind me. Don then asked me to tell the officer who he was and what he had done for me. So, I explained that his name was Don Noble and that he had saved my life.