Freddie Thompson, a convicted felon who faced 5 robbery charges in a Staten Island court on Wednesday, answered the bailiff’s call for another defendant. The police officer who was supposed to check his mug shot missed him, so he pleaded guilty to someone else’s drug-possession charge and walked out the door with time served. According to ABC News, he’s been captured again.
Except for that last bit, Ray Kelly isn’t happy about any of this.
Kelly took responsibility for the escape on behalf of the police department, which has custody of prisoners awaiting arraignment. According to the Times, the Department of Corrections handed Thompson over to the unidentified officer under the wrong name. Nonetheless, the unidentified officer, he said,
“did not adequately check the identification of the prisoner.”
“There was a mistake made here. There’s no question about it,” Kelly said. “The officer has been put on modified assignment, and we’ll be doing an investigation. But it’s also important to note we make almost 400,000 arrests per year, and human beings are processing these arrests and processing the prisoners, and we are going to see mistakes be made.”
Jermaine Gavins, the prisoner whose marijuana charge Thompson assumed, superficially resembles him physically, and at least one defense lawyer thinks that may be part of the problem
Defense lawyer Allen Cappelli contended, though, that police are working with black-and-white, grainy photos from ancient printers when they identify suspects.
“They need to get modern, color printers in there,” Cappelli said, praising court personnel who work under “deplorable” conditions. “This isn’t the fault of an individual. This is the system.”
Police are reportedly investigating whether Gavins was bribed or coerced into allowing Thompson to enter the court under his name.
Another prisoner escaped his arraignment the same way in the Bronx in February. Michael Bautista is still at large.
Update: according to the Times, Thompson was captured at the entrance to the 6 station at Lexington Avenue and 50th Street, and faces additional charges of escape, identify theft and criminal impersonation.