LIBERTY, Ohio (WYTV) – Three Liberty police officers will be disciplined after a prisoner escaped from a police cruiser earlier this month.
Liberty Police Chief Rich Tisone said officers Rob Altier, Chad McGarry and Sgt. Dan Kovach did not follow procedure in the transport of Garell Williams during his arrest on January 4.
“There were a multitude of things that we could have done better. These guys, usually they follow policy and procedure, but this time we had some holes in it,” Tisone said.
Williams was stopped while driving on Gypsy Lane because the vehicle he was driving had no rear license plate light, according to a police report. The report said when Altier approached the vehicle, he saw Williams shoving an item between the driver’s seat and console.
Altier said the car smelled like marijuana, and Williams was found to have several license suspensions.
Officer McGarry was called to the area, and Williams was patted down for weapons. The pat down found a marijuana cigar, according to the report. The officers also reported finding a handgun hidden in the vehicle.
Williams told officers that the loaded handgun was his for protection but admitted that he is a convicted felon with past drug violations, the report said.
Williams was handcuffed and placed in the back of the police cruiser when Sgt. Kovach arrived. After combing through Williams’ car for evidence, they went back to the police car and saw that Williams was gone.
Chief Tisone said the officers had rolled down the window of the cruiser to talk to Williams. He was thin enough to get his arm through, and the window wasn’t rolled back up. The officers also left the door unlocked, he said.
A review of dash camera footage showed Williams wiggling out of his handcuffs and then reaching through the passenger rear window. Williams then opened the door from outside and ran, the report said.
Tisone said someone should have been watching Williams while the officers were logging evidence, as is procedure.
“What we’re gonna do is going to go over some training issues to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he said.
Williams, who was later arrested, appeared in Girard Municipal Court for an arraignment Wednesday on charges including, escape, possession of drugs and weapons-related charges. Williams is now in Trumbull County Jail, awaiting a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. January 18.
Tisone said the officers involved in the incident have always followed protocol in the past. He said each officer was responsible in some way, contributing equally to the problem.
Tune into 33 WYTV News, starting at 6 p.m. to watch the dash camera footage of the escape.