When real life takes on the storyline of film we should be worried. We’ve all watched stories on television or the big screen where the convict escapes and we’ve all at some point or another rooted for the bad guy. But when the fictional becomes the reality in our Chicagoland backyard there is cause for concern. Our very safety is at stake. We have to question how is it that a prison facility let’s a convicted murdered slip through their heavily guarded facility doors. How can we depend on them to protect us from the violence outside the prison walls if they can’t manage the violent in a controlled environment? Unfortunately authorities are in search of a murderer awaiting sentencing escaped from a jail in eastern Illinois on Wednesday after overpowering a guard and taking his keys, uniform and SUV.
The failed bureaucratic system is best demonstrated when the Kankakee County Sheriff Tim Bukowski blamed a breakdown in the County Jail’s security system for the early morning escape of Kamron T. Taylor, 23, who was awaiting sentencing, and authorities say he should be considered armed and dangerous. Questions like, why was officer not more pre-caucious given that the convict had tried to escape twice before.
According to reports and issued an alert was issued Wednesday for 15-year-old Savannah Bell, saying she “may be in the company” of Taylor but said a little before 4 p.m. that she had been found. Ninety minutes later Kankakee County Undersheriff Mike Downey said that police located the girl about 4 p.m. other reports quoting him as saying she had not been found were incorrect.
The escaped Taylor who was convicted in February of killing a 21-year-old man in a botched robbery and is scheduled to be sentenced in May apparently overwhelmed a correctional officer about 3 a.m. Wednesday during a routine check of the pod containing Taylor’s cell at the Jerome Combs Detention Center.
Taylor escaped from a two-person cell after the last security check and hid in waiting. The 38-year-old officer, a 10-year employee who had been at work since 11 p.m., was attacked from the side, choked and hit in the head, disabling him. Taylor stripped the officer, donned his uniform and managed to fool employees monitoring the three doors that stood between him and freedom. Bukowski said both men are African-American and about the same build.
Taylor then left the facility at 3:12 a.m., located the officer’s car using a fob on the set of keys he’d stolen off of him and drove away, abandoning the car in the 12000 block of South Lincoln Avenue about 8:30 a.m. Investigators are questioning Taylor’s relatives and associates in the area, as well as inmates in the pod who were awakened by the struggle. They are also reviewing video related to Taylor’s escape.
Bukowski estimated 40 minutes passed before the semiconscious officer was discovered on the floor. “He was in and out of consciousness, unable to understand questions put to him,” Bukowski said.
Due to the time of night, similarity of appearance and lack of a major disturbance, employees monitoring the doors “didn’t detect anything out of the ordinary,” Bukowski said.
Bukowski said the detention center’s pod system has 28 cells per pod. Taylor was being held in an area separate from the general population. Taylor previously briefly escaped Kankakee police, running for several blocks before he was captured, after his June 24, 2013, arrest for the killing. He also attempted to flee Feb. 27 after he was convicted of murder.
On Wednesday, Bukowski said it was “premature” to link Taylor’s escape to employee cutbacks in May, saying, “We believed what we had done at the time was appropriate.” But Bukowski also acknowledged, “The system broke down. Obviously somebody didn’t do their job properly.” What does that mean? It’s clear that they did not notice any distinction between the officer and the convicted prisoner because they did not make any effort to talk or interact with him. Taylor apparently having been observant use the old adage that “we Blacks look alike” to his advantage and it worked.
What does that say about the working relations between the sheriff’s staff? So the break down in the system that the Sheriff refers to has to be the unspoken racism.
The officer remained in the intensive care unit at Provena St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee on Wednesday morning. Bukowski termed his condition serious, saying he has undergone a CT scan and is undergoing additional tests.
The Jerome Combs Detention Center, about 5 miles south of the Kankakee County Courthouse, opened in 2005 and houses 450 inmates, including people charged through the U.S. Marshals Office and Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Local law enforcement agencies were helping hunt for Taylor, and the sheriff’s department has asked for help from the U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force.
Taylor is 5-foot-9 and about 170 pounds, according to authorities. Anyone with information should call 911 or 815-933-3324.
Taylor was found guilty of first-degree murder in the June 2013 slaying of Nelson Williams Jr. during a botched robbery at Williams’ home in Kankakee. He faces a sentence of 45 years to life. He was convicted previously of robbery and resisting arrest in Tennessee.
Williams was shot in the head on his front porch during a scuffle with a man demanding money. A 911 recording capturing the sound of the single gunshot was played for jurors. The victim’s fiancee, Rebecca Hoover, witnessed the shooting and provided dramatic testimony, telling the court she saw a man put Williams in a headlock and shoot him
She and other witnesses acknowledged they did not see the gunman’s face, but they identified him as Taylor based on his clothing, including a blue hoodie, black jeans and white sneakers.
Taylor’s attorney argued that he was mistakenly identified, saying he “made an unfortunate choice of clothing.”
The Hunt for Escaped Chicagoland Prisoner Is Still On was originally published on chicagodefender.com