Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | May 22, 2018

Inmate damages cell, assaults officer

By David Hotle | Jun 22, 2017



A Washington man who allegedly assaulted a Washington Police officer in February reportedly assaulted a jailer Wednesday morning and punched a window area in the Washington County Jail.

According to the Washington County call log, Billie Earl Nowell, 31, of Washington, was reported damaging property in his cell at 10:04 p.m. Tuesday. Officers responded. Charges are pending on the incident. At 5:27 a.m. Wednesday, Nowell was again reported causing damage in his cell. Officers responded. The report said he assaulted a jailer and punched a window area with his hand. Charges are pending.

Washington County Sheriff Jared Schneider said the jailer was fine. He said the incident was similar to an incident that occurred Feb. 15, when Washington Police officer Brian Van Willigen was hospitalized after Nowell had kicked him while law enforcement personnel were trying to restrain Nowell.

“We’ve had a couple of incidents here in the last week, not just with Billie, but with inmates tampering with the fire sprinklers and causing the sprinkler to activate in the cell,” Schneider said. “It’s something that has happened historically.”

Schneider said there are a lot of jails that have the same problem. He is looking for a way to minimize instances of this happening. He said inmates are able to tamper with the sprinkler heads and get them to go off.

About a week ago, a different inmate had activated the sprinkler system in his cell. Schneider said the water in the fire extinguishing system is dirty and takes jail staff a while to clean up.

Schneider said jailers and deputies had training earlier this month from the Iowa Department of Corrections in cell extractions. Jailers have also been reviewing the use of restraint chairs. A restraint chair is a chair that secures an inmate’s waist, shoulders, arms and legs to keep an out-of-control inmate safe.

Nowell was originally arrested Jan. 15 on three counts of delivery of a controlled substance.

“Some of the inmates spend a lot of time with us,” Schneider said.

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