Employees disciplined after inmate escapes Alpharetta jail

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has confirmed Fulton County Sheriff’s Office employees were disciplined following an inmate’s escape from the north county jail annex in Alpharetta last May.

Channel 2's Mike Petchenik obtained exclusive surveillance video of Michael Shawn Wilson's escape. Officers quickly captured the Marietta man at a nearby apartment complex.

"From what I understand, he literally came right through the woods behind my apartment," said neighbor Barbara Holley. "I live alone and that is a little scary."

A commander initially told Petchenik investigators believed a jail trusty taking out the trash propped open the door for Wilson, but officials later said they don't believe that trusty intentionally aided in the escape.

Video shows a deputy escorting the trusty was the last person to handle the door before the video shows Wilson leaving an inmate holding area, and then quickly exit through a door to the outside.

"You see a deputy flagging the control room to open the exterior door, that door was then opened," said Alpharetta's
Assistant City Administrator James Drinkard, who investigated whether any Alpharetta staff played a role in the escape. "It appears that it was not closed all the way, which allowed the inmate to get out."

In June, Petchenik reported on internal sheriff's office emails that raised concerns about door locks that couldn't be controlled remotely. Emails indicated jail staff had brought the concerns to Alpharetta, which owns the jail, but that repairs weren't being made in a timely fashion.

Drinkard said after reviewing work orders, he believes the city took care of needed repairs.

"There's nothing we have found to indicate there was a problem from the standpoint of maintenance or repair issues or the functionality of the locks that would have allowed the escape to occur," Drinkard said.

Drinkard said the issue was with a board that controlled remote locks, but that deputies could still manually lock the doors as needed. He said the investigation determined deputies had put tape over some lock plungers, rendering them inoperable.

"If you tape down the plunger, the lock's not (going to )work," Drinkard said. "If you manually defeat the lock, you manually defeat the lock."

A Fulton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman would only confirm an employee was disciplined, but wouldn't say whom or what the discipline entailed.


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