What Happened to Tracey Thurman?

Tracey Thurman was a Connecticut woman who, in 1984, sued the Torrington police department for failing to protect her from her abusive husband despite known incidences of his past violence toward her. Thurman’s suit and ultimate victory prompted unprecedented national attention toward the issue of domestic violence.

On June 10th, 1983, Thurman’s husband Buck viciously assaulted her, stabbing her 13 times in the chest, neck, shoulders and face. Despite numerous restraining orders and other official actions, it took Torrington police more than 20 minutes to respond to the call, and when they finally arrived, they made no immediate moves to restrain Buck Thurman. As a result, he was able to kick his motionless wife in the face as she laid on the floor. He also threatened their child with the bloody knife he was holding. Despite paralyzation on her right side and seven months of hospital recuperation, Tracey Thurman not only sat as a witness against her husband during his trial but also went on to sue Torrington police on constitutional grounds, citing that they had violated her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

Thurman went on to win a settlement of 2.3 million dollars, and the high-profile case spawned widespread legislative action around the country aimed at defending victims of domestic violence from similar catastrophes. In Connecticut itself, the state legislature passed the Thurman Act, which makes domestic violence an act that warrants an immediate arrest regardless of whether or not the victim wants to press charges against the assailant. Buck Thurman was ultimately sentenced to 14 years in prison. Tracey Thurman’s story was ultimately made into a movie entitled “A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story.”