DALLAS (AP) — Law enforcement officers failed to follow standard procedures for escorting prisoners when a capital murder suspect grabbed a deputy's service revolver and escaped from a North Texas hospital, the sheriff said Wednesday.
Franklin B. Davis stole the deputy's gun and fled Tuesday night while at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. He was tracked to a van nearby and surrendered peacefully after a two-hour standoff, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said.
The deputy was not injured in the incident.
"Standard procedure requires for all inmates to be escorted at all times while on medical visits at Parkland," Valez said. "Procedures were not totally followed and an error was made. Because of that, and for security reasons, we will not go into further details on this."
Davis, 30, of Carrollton, awaits trial in the death of 16-year-old Shania Gray, who was shot and strangled. Her body was found Sept. 8 along a fork of the Trinity River
Davis had been admitted to the hospital on Dec. 1 "for what medical staff considered severe complaints," Valdez said.
The sheriff's department's transportation escorts an average of 20 inmates to the county-owned general hospital daily, Valdez said. In an average of 4,200 trips to Parkland a year, "we have had one escape," she pointed out. Valdez called it an "isolated incident."
Construction began last week on a $40 million medical facility at the Dallas County jail that would "virtually eliminate the need for inmates to be transported to outside hospitals," County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county's top administrative officer, said in a statement Wednesday.
The facility is expected to open in April 2014.
Davis already had been charged with four counts of sexually assaulting Gray when he allegedly took Gray from her school. Police have said Davis confessed to killing Gray to prevent her from testifying against him in the sexual assault case.
Family and friends had said that when she was killed Gray's family was in the process of moving from one Dallas suburb to another so her father could be closer to work. Neighbors in Mesquite, the eastern suburb where the family lived for years, described Gray as friendly and caring.
According to relatives and an affidavit released by Carrollton police, Davis posed as a teenage boy on Facebook and bought a new cellphone to contact Gray and get information about the sexual assault case.
The two exchanged text messages, though Carrollton police spokesman Jon Stovall said he didn't know how many.
Davis told Carrollton police Gray was surprised to see him when he pulled up to her outside her school but got into his car because he wanted to discuss the case. He told police and several television stations that he drove her to an area near the Trinity River and shot her twice.
He then stepped on her neck until she stopped breathing, the affidavit said. Her body was found two days later.