WA Legal Roundup: Division III
“I swear boss I left him right here!” Gomez was arrested for driving while license suspended and obstruction. He was taken to the county jail and handcuffed to a chair that was bolted to the floor. Apparently that is the extent of the holding facility at this Garfield County jail, which is in the basement of the county courthouse. A CHAIR BOLTED TO THE FLOOR! Must be budget cuts.
So the arresting deputy sheriff gets another call and leaves Gomez handcuffed to the chair. When the deputy comes back, Gomez is gone. Surveillance video showed Gomez slipping out of the handcuffs and just walking out the door. They can’t afford a jail cell, but it’s important to have a video of your lone prisoner escaping. I wonder what they do if they have multiple prisoners. Do they handcuff them all to the one chair and when the music stops whoever sits down first gets early release?
So the deputy eventually catches up with Gomez and arrests him again. This time they handcuffed him to the flag pole. Gomez was charged with felony escape second degree (RCW 9A.76.120), which is defined as knowingly escaping from a “detention facility.” Knowingly? I can’t imaging a prisoner unknowingly escaping jail: “Oh my gosh! How did I get out here?”
So Gomez was convicted of second degree escape and he appealed the conviction arguing that what he did was actually escape from custody (RCW 9A.76.130), which is only a gross misdemeanor.
So the issue came down to: Is a pair of handcuffs and a chair bolted to the floor a detention facility? The statutory definition of “detention facility is “any place used for the confinement of a person.” Well Garfield County Jail doesn’t have a jail cell so I guess the chair is a “detention facility.” So says Division III.
So keep track of that one bullet deputy…Gomez the Magnificent has lost his appeal and he may be coming back to town.