HOUSTON - The family of a Houston corrections officer killed at a prison near Huntsville on Monday is learning more about the incident.
Jovian Motley's parents had a meeting with the Executive Director of TDCJ and they say while they appreciate the additional information, they still want to know why it was so important to have guards go into a cell if the inmate was the only one in there. They also have many more questions about how their son died.
"It has turned my family upside down. My firstborn child. We haven't had any grandchildren," cries Jovian's dad, Edward Motley.
Since learning their son, 27-year-old Corrections Officer Jovian Motley was killed at the Wainwright Prison on Monday while helping to restrain an inmate, Edward and Tammica Motley have been searching for answers.
"There were stories he was choked. There were stories he hit his head on the toilet and broke his neck. We don't know. We really don't know. I asked the warden ‘Was he stabbed? Was he hit in the head?’" Mrs. Motley explains.
In a meeting with the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Bryan Collier, the Motleys have learned, "They confirmed he was the fourth man, the fourth corrections officer to go in from the five-man team. The first person was to take the inmate down. The second person was to restrain and arm," adds Mrs. Motley and she says they're told after the second and third officers handcuffed the inmate, their son's job was to hold the inmate's legs.
A sixth person, they are told, was recording video, a supervisor was observing, and a medical official was standing by. So with so many workers there, what happened to Jovian? The Motley's only know their son, who practiced Jiu Jitsu, somehow became unresponsive.
Collier tells them, "He said they also want to get to the truth. They want to answer the questions. They want us to have the answers," says the mom in mourning, and Jovian's dad adds, "I lost my mom not too long ago and this happened on her birthday."
It was a day before Jovian's mom's birthday, which the family just celebrated Saturday as mom shared with us a video of a dance-off she had with her son. The family also just returned from a cruise together for Jovian's birthday.
With Jovian's sister heading home from the Navy and dad returning from a business trip, they were looking forward to spending Thanksgiving together.
"I was so excited to come home and spend Thanksgiving with my babies," says Jovian's dad through tears.
"We will forever have an empty seat at our dinner table. I'm going to fight to make sure policies and procedures are in place. I don't want any other families to feel this kind of pain," explains Mrs. Motley.
The parents also want to view the video of the incident and examine his body for trauma. They have been able to see him briefly from the neck up. Mr. and Mrs. Motley thought they would receive preliminary autopsy results today, but they're told that will take a bit longer.
The Office of Inspector General is investigating Jovian Motley's death.
"I miss my baby. Every morning. Now it's like I go through a grieving period where I cry, and I'm in tears. It's difficult and it hurts. It hurts so bad man," cries Mr. Motley and his wife adds, "It's the worst feeling ever to wake up every day and know you will never see your son again."
The 27-year-old had worked at the Houston County prison since October 2022. Mrs. Motley says she was her son's emergency contact. So she wants to know why she wasn't contacted. She says her son's girlfriend called her Monday around 6:20 pm and told her something was happening to Jovian. So the mom frantically called the unit.
The man Mrs. Motley spoke with couldn't give her answers. "When he put the phone down I could hear chaos in the background. I could hear people screaming and yelling 'go get this, go get that' and I heard 911, and I'm just like, what is going on?"
The Motleys say they're told no other officers were injured in the incident. nor was the inmate.