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Trooper, sheriff revive exoneree Walter Lomax after heart attack at Maryland General Assembly

Walter Lomax, shown here at left in 2014 with his lawyers after being exonerated for a crime he did not commit, suffered a heart attack in the Miller Senate Office Building Wednesday. He was revived by Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Trooper First Class Luke Rafer of the Maryland State Police.
Walter Lomax, shown here at left in 2014 with his lawyers after being exonerated for a crime he did not commit, suffered a heart attack in the Miller Senate Office Building Wednesday. He was revived by Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Trooper First Class Luke Rafer of the Maryland State Police.(Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

A Maryland state trooper and a county sheriff are credited with saving the life of a former Baltimore man who suffered a heart attack Wednesday outside a General Assembly hearing room.

Walter Lomax, who spent decades in prison for a fatal shooting in Baltimore he did not commit, was at the Miller Senate Office Building to testify on a bill about compensating people who have been exonerated.

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“After doing an interview on the third floor, he had a heart attack and had no pulse,” Senate President Bill Ferguson said Thursday morning. “He was sort of slumped over and had a pretty serious heart attack.”

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Maryland State Police Trooper First Class Luke Rafer performed CPR on Lomax until an emergency medical services team arrived, Ferguson said. Lomax’s condition as of late Saturday was stable.

The two men “literally saved Mr. Lomax’s life yesterday,” said Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.

“It was amazing,” he said.

Rafer was stationed in one of the Senate balconies Thursday morning as Ferguson recounted the story, and senators rose in a standing ovation for the trooper.

Lomax was taken by ambulance to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where Ferguson visited him later that night.

At the hospital, Ferguson said, Lomax insisted to him: “You just really got to pass this bill.”

The incident revealed another concern for Ferguson and other senators: An automated external defibrillator machine did not function properly, even though the battery had been checked earlier that day.

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The machines, also called AEDs, are in place in the Senate and House of Delegates office buildings, as well as in the State House, Ferguson said. Ferguson said it was “an enormous concern” that the one in the Senate building didn’t work.

The bill Lomax is promoting would set standards for how the state should compensate people who have been wrongly convicted and incarcerated.

Lomax was convicted in 1968 of the fatal shooting of the night manager of a Brooklyn food market, but his sentence was commuted in 2006 amid questions regarding evidence in the case. In 2014, the conviction was officially wiped from his record.

Late last year, the state awarded Lomax nearly $3 million in compensation for his nearly four decades behind bars, the largest such award ever made in Maryland. He was among five exonerees who had been pressing the state for compensation.

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