A 27-year-old correctional officer died Monday at the Wainwright Unit in Houston County while helping restrain an inmate, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials.
The officer, Jovian Motley, who worked at TDCJ for about a year, died at the Lovelady prison, about 24 miles north of Huntsville, officials said in a news release.
The Office of Inspector General for TDCJ is reviewing the death as a criminal investigation, but officials have not said how Motley died or whether foul play is suspected.
On Tuesday night, Motley's mother and father, joined by dozens of family members and friends, called on TDCJ officials to be transparent about the circumstances around his death.
Tammica Motley, Jovian's mother, said she first received a call from the department around 7 p.m. Monday, informing her vaguely that her son had been involved in an incident at the prison. She waited three hours for more information before deciding to drive up to Huntsville, she said.
When she and her husband, Ed, were within 20 minutes of the prison, they received a call from the prison's warden, asking them to come to his office. By then, Ed Motley said, they had already learned about Motley's death from his girlfriend, who also works for the department.
"I have no answers," Tammica Motley said. "My husband and I fought to keep him from being a victim on the street. Today, I want to know how is it that he's a victim in TDCJ."
In a statement, TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said Motley died while protecting his colleagues. The department didn't release more information about Motley's death, citing the ongoing investigation.
"His courage and dedication will forever be remembered. We are praying for his family, friends and co-workers during this difficult time," Collier said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a statement, saying the state "grieves for the loss of one of its brave correctional officers, who selflessly put his life on the line each day to protect his community, fellow officers, and Texans."
The family said they had questions about how their son was killed when he was part of a team of five men and rebuffed the statements made by state leaders.
"I don't even understand how we got here," Tammica Motley said. "My son did everything right. He was following the law. He was a productive citizen. He went to work. I don't understand how this happened, because a kid like that should not be killed at work."
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