A typo — a glitch, a miscommunication — is the reason police continue to search for murder suspects who walked out of jail by mistake.
The immediate concern is finding the two suspects and returning them to custody as they await trial in connection to separate shootings. But, the question remains how can something so similar happen in the country’s largest metropolitan areas within hours?
And what can be done from it happening again?
LOS ANGELES CASE
On Tuesday evening, Steven Manzo, 23, walked out of a Los Angeles County jail despite pending charges in connection to a 2018 murder.
Officials from corrections, the court system and media are trying to downplay their responsibility for the mistake.
Manzo is accused of killing Salvador Corrales, 24, during a shooting in a Long Beach parking lot. He was arrested in March 2020 and held on $2 million bail.
According to multiple media reports, Manzo was supposed to be in court earlier in the week. But, prosecutors dismissed the charges in a legal maneuver and immediately refiled them. While the new charges were filed, jail records show his case was dismissed.
Manzo was then released from jail despite the active charges.
When released, Manzo fled the area and has not been found as of Thursday afternoon.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told local media that their deputies received an order of release from the court.
“As such, the Department complied with the court order and processed the individual for release,” the department stated.
Prosecutors said they learned Manzo was released and told police. The court system in Los Angeles said it was reviewing the matter and takes the situation “seriously.”
- NYC POLICE SEARCHING FOR MURDER SUSPECT ACCIDENTLY RELEASED FROM JAIL. RELEASE COMES HOURS AFTER LA HAD A SIMILAR MISTAKE.
- OOPS! MURDER SUSPECT MISTAKENLY RELEASED FROM JAIL IN LOS ANGELES, MANHUNT UNDERWAY
- Murder suspect walked out of jail by mistake. Weeks later, California police say they caught the man.
NEW YORK CITY CASE
Hours later, the nearly-exact-same-thing happened in New York City. Christopher Buggs was released from Rikers Island jail despite facing murder charges.
He was arrested in connection to a 2018 shooting outside a bodega in Brooklyn that left Ernest Brownlee dead.
Brownlee’s widow, Winifred Mackins, told the New York Daily News that she was upset about the accused killer’s release.
“They need to find this guy,” she told the news group. “I don’t like this. I’m angry. I’m [feeling] everything.”
“It’s been really rough,” she said about dealing with her husband’s death. “I still wake up looking for him.”
A judge recently ordered that Buggs be given credit for time served for charges in an unrelated case, but the murder counts remained active. Mayor Bill De Blasio said Buggs was released on a court order, but he should have stayed behind bars.
"We’re going to put additional safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again. It’s very frustrating,” the mayor said at a Wednesday news conference. “It was based on a court order, but it was apparently one case that this inmate had connected to him, but there were other charges obviously as well that should’ve meant he remained incarcerated. So we’re going to get a full review of this immediately, make whatever changes we have to. In the meantime, we have a high level of confidence that he will be re-apprehended shortly.”
Officials from the New York City Department of Corrections provided a statement about the situation to FrontPageDetectives.
"We are aware of this incident and a full investigation into how this happened is underway. Right now, we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this individual to custody," Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said.
Buggs remained free and unaccounted for as of Thursday afternoon.
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