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Inmates charged Local man assaults jailer; another gropes female CO

A local man is considered the primary instigator of a recent two-inmate assault that left a county jailer with several serious injuries and was the second incident in just over four weeks involving an inmate from Atmore who physically tested the authority of an officer at the crowded facility.

Chief Deputy Mike Lambert of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office reported January 19 that 23-year-old Tevin Watts, of a U.S. 31 apartment complex in Atmore, and Dothan resident Antonio Jones, 28, have each been charged with felony assault on a correctional officer in the more recent of the two occurrences.

“We had an altercation take place Saturday (January 13) at the jail, shortly after lunch,” said Lambert. “The two inmates came out of their cell and began assaulting a 19-year-old correctional officer. Tevin Watts was the ringleader.”

The duo viciously attacked the unidentified Escambia County Detention Center jailer with their fists and feet. Lambert pointed out that other officers who witnessed the attack jumped in to help and that a riot team was finally able to restrain the inmates only after they had inflicted the injuries on the jailer.

“They did a pretty good job on him,” the chief deputy said. “He lost some teeth; they broke his nose, and they messed up his knee.”

The injured jailer was taken to D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, where he reportedly received preliminary treatment and was eventually released. He will more than likely have to undergo extensive rehabilitation because of the extent of his injuries.

“They took him to the hospital in Brewton, and the doctors there checked him out, fixed him up the best they could and let him go,” said Lambert. “But he’ll still be seeing specialists for a while for his nose and knee.”

The ECSO’s second-in-command said he would like to see the strongest punishment possible handed out against the duo responsible for the reportedly unprovoked attack.

“This kind of stuff is not going to be tolerated,” he said. “They will both be charged with felonies, and we will present the case to the county grand jury.”

The assault charge against Watts comes on top of the relatively minor charges under which he was already incarcerated — one count each of disorderly conduct, third-degree escape and violation of probation.

Jones was already behind bars on a laundry list of charges, including four counts each of attempting to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime; two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and promoting prison contraband, and one count each of first-degree possession of marijuana, second-degree possession of marijuana, being an inmate in possession of a cell phone, and trafficking in methamphetamine.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Another Atmore man, also already behind bars for several legal infractions, was arrested December 20 on new charges after he allegedly groped a female corrections officer who was helping conduct an inspection of the inmate’s living quarters.

According to an employee of the jail’s booking and release division, 19-year-old Eric John Williams had a charge of first-degree sexual abuse added to the 13 other charges for which he was originally locked up.

Williams, suspected of several burglaries in and around Atmore, was already under lock and key on three counts each of attempting to break and enter a vehicle and second-degree theft of property, as well as one count each of third-degree criminal mischief, attempting to break and enter a residence, attempting to elude officers, failure to obey a law enforcement officer, second-degree burglary, first-degree theft of property and probation violation.