One suspect indicted in Port Arthur police officer stabbing

Joal Morgan Riley

A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted Joal Morgan Riley, 47, for aggravated assault upon a public servant, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office announced Feb. 8.

Riley’s indictment stems from an altercation Dec. 22. Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD) reported a 911 call at 6:33 p.m. stating that an officer was being assaulted at Willow Lakes Apartments.

Officer Jerry Daws, a nine-year veteran of the PAPD, was transported to St. Elizabeth’s hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to a PAPD release.

The indictment stated that Daws answered a knock at his front door while off duty at his apartment. A man he did not know brought a machete to Daws for “safekeeping” so that “children would not get hurt with it,” according to the probable cause affidavit. A few minutes later, the man returned and asked for the machete, which Daws gave him.

The suspect allegedly then “began stabbing Daws at his front door and followed him into his bedroom, stabbing Daws as Daws retreated,” the affidavit states.

Daws fought back “barehanded” and suffered “serious bodily injury to his hands and arms,” but escaped using “good hand-to-hand defensive techniques” and “diversionary tactics.”

During the investigation, as police sought to identify the suspect, a neighbor at Willow Lakes Apartments reported seeing a suspicious vehicle that was later discovered in Riley’s possession.

After being released from the hospital, investigators showed Daws a photo of Riley. Daws responded with “That’s him! That’s him!”

PAPD Detective Mickey Sterling interviewed Riley, who admitted to being at the apartments during the time Daws was stabbed. Riley said he was trying to find an “Army buddy” of his, Chris Hammond.

PAPD Sergeant Scott Gaspard contacted Chris Hammond of Nederland, who is currently stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Hammond told Gaspard that he has never heard of Riley and never been to Willow Lakes Apartments.

PAPD arrested Riley Dec. 26. The next day, PAPD Major John Owens said a woman was arrested in connection with the case, but she has not been indicted.

According to PAPD, the investigation involved numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, United States Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.