Jimmy Powell’s legal problems just got a little worse.

Last week, the 21-year-old was arrested in connection with a recent burglary of a habitation, where four rifles and two shotguns were stolen.

But on Monday, the Erath County Sheriff’s Department filed an additional charge on Powell after he attacked two jailers.

Sheriff Tommy Bryant said the attack occurred after Powell began making some kind of ruckus in his cell. When Sgt. Debbie Gardner went to check things out, Powell allegedly “lunged” at her.

“Another jailer, Officer B.J. Hill, was also there,” Bryant said. “And he was able to quickly intervene.”

A brief scuffle between Hill and Powell ensued that resulted in a re-injury to Hill’s hand. Hill was attacked earlier this year by another inmate, Cody Roberson, who is accused of killing his mother.

“Unfortunately, the incident re-injured the same hand that was injured by Cody Roberson during a previous attack,” Bryant said.

Last week’s attack on the two guards was not the first time Powell’s been in trouble since getting locked up. Days before attacking Gardner and Hill, Powell allegedly spit in another guard’s face. In that incident, Powell was, again, causing a commotion inside his cell. When a guard opened a small window on the door of the cell to look inside, Powell was standing there waiting to spit in the jailer’s face, Bryant said.

Now, after a hearing to decide Powell’s punishment, the inmate is not allowed to watch TV, receive visits or phone calls, or have commissary privileges for 30 days.

Bryant said these attacks show the “vulnerability” of jailers who work in a “high-risk situation every day.”

“They take every precaution they can to stay safe,” Bryant said. “But the truth is, they’re outnumbered 70-4 and some of these inmates can be dangerous.”

Bryant said he is now considering purchasing TASER guns for the jail staff to


Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.