Sheriff: 'Isolated' error allowed inmate to escape

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

WFAA

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 6:44 PM

DALLAS – Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez told reporters Wednesday that her employees did not follow procedures properly, which led to the escape of a murder suspect receiving treatment at Parkland Hospital Tuesday night. 

“Procedures were not totally followed and an error was made,” she said during a news  conference. “I want to reassure the citizens of Dallas County of their safety. This was an isolated incident where a mistake was made.”

Franklin Davis, jailed on a capital murder charge for killing 16-year-old Shania Gray in September, was receiving treatment at Parkland Memorial Hospital Tuesday night. The mistake, which Valdez never elaborated on, led to Davis overpowering a deputy and fleeing with his gun. 

He escaped from Parkland and was on the run for about an hour until police caught up with him about a mile from the hospital. Davis surrendered at 10:45 p.m. 

In a jailhouse interview with News 8 after his arrest, Davis confessed to shooting Shania Gray on the banks of the Trinity River. She had accused him of sexually assaulting her, and was prepared to testify during his trial in October.

“I shot her,” Davis said from jail. “I don’t know how many times.” 

Since his arrest, Davis has been in and out of Dallas hospitals. Sources say he was most recently admitted for chest pains.

“He was going to Parkland for what medical staff considered severe complaints and had been there for several visits under several occasions,” Valdez said. 

County policy requires at least two deputies to be in the hospital room. While Valdez did not specify what procedures her employees did not follow, Davis should have been restrained at all times. A supervisor must approve if only one deputy will be guarding an inmate.

“We don’t know if they did that or not,” she said. 

Valdez said this incident underscores the importance of building a medical facility at the county jail. Currently, deputies transport an average of 4,200 inmates to Parkland each year. The county broke ground on a $40 million medical facility at the jail just this week. 

County Judge Clay Jenkins said this will “virtually eliminate the need for inmates to be transported to outside hospitals."

“This illustrates the foresight and vigilance that has been at work within the Sheriff’s Department to address issues regarding inmate medical needs and security for the future of Dallas County,” Jenkins said in a prepared statement.

Nobody was injured during Davis’ escape.

Email rlopez@wfaa.com

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