The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office is looking for an inmate who escaped Monday.

William “Billy” Hance, 47, Old Sevierville Highway, Newport, was being taken back to jail following his initial appearance in Cocke County General Sessions Court when he escaped.

Hance was handcuffed in front when he ran down the courthouse stairs and fled the building.

“The supervising officer was unaware that Hance had fled from his presence,” according to Sheriff Armando Fontes. The sheriff said the bailiffs “failed to adequately supervise” Hance.

The escapee, along with several other inmates, were being moved by two bailiffs.

Last Saturday, Hance was the object of a pursuit by Newport officers after which he jumped into the Pigeon River.

The suspect swam away and so the Newport Rescue Squad was asked to bring a boat to the scene, but Hance swam to shore and was taken into custody.

A passenger in the vehicle, Melissa Harris, told police she had asked Hance to stop during the chase but he said he was wanted and he told Ms. Harris to “hang on.” Police say the subject was wanted on a warrant charging him with aggravated assault.

Following the pursuit, Hance was charged additionally with kidnapping, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, no insurance or seatbelt, felony fleeing to evade arrest and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and other traffic violations.

Hance is described as a white male, weighing 149 pounds and is 5’ 9” tall with brown hair.

Anyone with any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Cocke County Emergency Communication Center at 423-623-3064 or call 911.