LOVELADY, Texas – The family of a Houston County correctional officer who died after trying to restrain an inmate is demanding answers.
Tammica Motley, the mother of 27-year-old Jovian Motley, told KPRC 2 she received a phone call from her son’s girlfriend Monday night informing her that an incident may have occurred involving Jovian at the Wainwright Unit in Lovelady, Texas, where he had been employed as a correctional officer.
After Tammica said she received no answers from Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials, she and her husband Edward drove to the facility.
Upon arrival, Tammica said it was confirmed that Jovian, along with four other officers, were sent in to get an unruly inmate from his cell but her son did not come out alive. Motley had to identify Jovian’s body.
According to the grieving mother, she was not allowed to touch or have a moment with Jovian’s remains.
“The Motley family has yet to receive any communication, from anyone in official capacity, from TDCJ,” a statement from community activist Deric Muhammad read.
Jovian’s family said he was active in many community initiatives and was a long-time mentee of Muhammad.
“All we know is that five men went into a cell to subdue one man. Five men against one man. Let’s do the math, ‘cause the math ain’t mathing,” Muhammad said in a news conference Tuesday night. “How does this happen? How is the strength of five men not enough to subdue the strength of one man? They say that the cell was dark and that they could not see. But if the cell was dark and they could not see, why in the hell would you send them in there?”
Muhammad said someone needed to be held responsible for Jovian’s death.
“From what we know, Jovian went in to extract the inmate with the other four and... excuse me... But he’s going in with the knowledge that he has backup. But where was his backup?” Muhammad asked. “We believe that somebody needs to be held responsible and held accountable for what happened to Jovian Motley, not just the inmate, but for those who put him in the position where his life could be taken and would have us standing here today.”
Muhammad commented on Gov. Greg Abbott’s remarks on Jovian’s death.
“They’re creating a narrative calling him a hero but he was that long before you ever had to say it. We know Jovian. Jovian was the type that would give you the shirt off of his back. He was the type that would give you the shoes off of his feet,” Muhammad said. “See, he’s been a hero to us, but my understanding must be bad because if he was such a hero, why did it take so long for you to inform his mother of what happened? We had to hear of Jovian’s death from a third party. And it wasn’t until tonight, after we reached out to State Representative Ron Reynolds, who put pressure on TDCJ, that they finally called Tammica Motley and made a statement.”
“I don’t even understand how we got here. My son did everything right, he was following the law, he was a productive citizen, he went to work,” Tammica said. “I don’t understand how this happened because a kid like that should not be killed at work.”
Tammica talked about how she and her husband worked to ensure Jovian wouldn’t become a “victim on these streets.”
“Today, I want to know how is it that he’s a victim in TDCJ. I want answers, I want accountability and I’m not gonna fight until we know exactly what happened,” Tammica said.
Tammica said she felt that the calls she got from TDCJ Tuesday night were “damage control.”
“I want real answers, I want real accountability, I want justice, I want to know what happened to my son on that night,” Tammica continued. “And if it was four other guards, they should’ve had his back, because my son would’ve had their back. My son would’ve made sure that he protected his men.”
Tammica said she believes there’s more to the story and she won’t stop until she gets more answers.
Jovian’s father also spoke during the news conference, saying that the minimal answers the family has received were “crazy.”
“This one hurts, man,” he said. “It not only hurt me, it hurt the whole community because everybody loves him. We want answers, man.”
Jovian was considered to be a mentor with a smile that would “light up a room,” Muhammad said.
The Office of Inspector General is investigating this case. TDCJ said they are not releasing more information while the investigation continues.