A rookie Texas Department of Criminal Justice guard was beaten to death Wednesday at a northeast Texas prison as he was transporting an inmate with an extensive history of attempted escapes and previous beatings of prison personnel from a day room to a cell.
Correctional Officer Timothy Davison, 47, was escorting Billy Joel Tracy inside the Barry B. Telford Unit in New Boston at 9 a.m. when an object on the officer's "person" was taken and used as a weapon, said Jason Clark, TDCJ spokesman. Davison, who suffered serious injuries, was transported to Christus St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana, where he later died.
Davison, a divorced father of two children, began working at TDCJ last December.
No charges had been filed against Tracy, who had been housed in a single cell because he is classified as an administrative segregation inmate, Texas' term for solitary confinement. He was immediately transferred to another undisclosed maximum-security prison.
Davison's slaying is the first of a guard since 2007, when 59-year-old Susan Canfield was killed during an escape attempt at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville involving two inmates who were later recaptured. One, Jerry Duane Martin, was convicted of capital murder and executed for her death in 2009.
According to TDCJ, Tracy, 37, is the lone suspect in this killing, and has a "long history" of disciplinary actions including attempted escapes and attacks on prison personnel. TDCJ would not reveal how long Tracy has been in solitary confinement or when it began. In 2005, Tracy assaulted another TDCJ employee, which added a 45-year sentence to his 1998 life sentence for aggravated assault and burglary in Rockwall County .
Few details about Tracy's 2005 attack were released late Wednesday. The incident occurred in Potter County, but TDCJ did not say whether it occurred at the Neal or Clements units, the two prisons located there.
The agency also did not disclose what Tracy was doing in the day room on Wednesday, or whether he was handcuffed while he was being transported. Both an inmate's disciplinary history and the names of those serving in solitary confinement are typically not released by TDCJ. Of the 148,000 inmates in the Texas prison system, 5,711 are in solitary confinement.
“The State of Texas mourns for the family of Officer Timothy Davison," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "The State of Texas will ensure that the inmate responsible for this heinous act is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Davison's death is being investigated by the prison system's Office of Inspector General.
"Our hearts are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life," said Brad Livingston, TDCJ's executive director. "I would ask the public to please keep the officer’s family and the entire TDCJ family in your prayers during this difficult time.”
Correction: This story originally stated that guard Timothy Davison was married. He was divorced, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.