After inmate escape, public safety reviews its policies

Published: Feb. 21, 2013 at 2:45 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 at 4:16 AM HST
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Ted Sakai
Ted Sakai
Shawn Tsuha
Shawn Tsuha

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Alleged murderer Teddy Munet escaped around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday - just as he was escorted to the intake area of circuit court on Punchbowl street.

Public safety officials admit: there should have been more deputies standing by.

This is the second time in less than four months that a prisoner has escaped from circuit court. Officials say, yes, it's definitely a concern, but if inmates are desperate, they'll try anything.

As officers unloaded four Corrections vans, the 29 year old Munet bolted up an open ramp at the back of the courthouse. With just a belly chain and handcuffs but no leg shackles, he had just enough of a head start that the officer in pursuit couldn't catch him.

"The sheriff's took a look at the video," says Public Safety Director, Ted Sakai, "but they said they could not really see how he got out and ran. He was simply being walked into the building, and he ran."

Standard operating procedure calls for inmates to wear ankle chains during transit, and officials are investigating why protocol wasn't followed. It raises concern since just last October, another prisoner escaped at the same courthouse. Darius Punimau climbed on a table inside an interview room, up through ceiling tiles, along a crawl space, and into a closet - eluding deputies. He was caught miles away the next day.

Authorities say there's been a huge increase in the number of inmates being transported to court. In Munet's getaway, they were asked if enough public safety was available.

"My estimation? No. I'll always tell you no, 'cause I would appreciate more deputies," says Hawaii State Sheriff, Shawn Tsuha. "But in this case, I think we could have used a couple more guys down there."

Officials say they'll review everything from manpower to positioning of vehicles to communication and more. "We're going to be looking, not only at our procedures for securing the inmates, but we're also going to be taking a look at the physical features of that area from which the inmate escaped. This is an old building, and it really wasn't built for today's security," says Sakai.

Munet was also in civilian clothes because of his scheduled court appearance before jurors - making it easier for him to blend in, once he fled. He was among three dozen or so inmates escorted to court this morning. Eight correctional officers and one sheriff's deputy were in the intake area at the time, and any distraction could have helped in Munet's getaway.

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