FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Fulton County jail staffer accidentally released a dangerous suspect onto the streets by mistake.
Fulton County Sheriff’s Lt. Col. Kirt Beasley said the staffer thought she was releasing an inmate whose charges were recently dropped when she let Lamar Hillard out of jail.
Sandy Springs police say Hillard is the leader of an Erie, Pennsylvania, gang called 1800 and he's accused, along with another man, of shooting two people Feb. 6 at the Doll House strip club. Officers say Hillard and the other man shot one person intentionally and the second victim was hit by stray bullets.
“I can understand, the victims were probably afraid,” Beasley said.
Records indicate a grand jury indicted Hillard and two others on Feb. 17. All three suspects pleaded not guilty, but June 6, they were re-indicted. The Fulton County District Attorney's office says the latest indictment refined the previous one, strengthening the minimum sentence conviction could bring.
Beasley says a jail staffer in the records section saw a stamp on the February indictment showing that it had been nolle prossed, which means it was dropped, but the staffer missed the handwritten words right above it that the case had been re-indicted. That meant Hillard should have stayed in jail.
“Someone tried to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Beasley said.
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Beasley says the problem should've been caught one more place, as Hillard was processed out close at 3:42 a.m. July 4, but was not.
An FBI special agent who had learned through a victim notification system that Hillard's release was imminent helped uncover the mistaken release, according to Beasley.
After Sandy Springs police alerted the jail, the agent got a judge to issue a warrant for Hillard's re-arrest.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol caught him on a traffic stop on Wednesday.
“He was stopped on a traffic stop but because that warrant was out on NCIC, they received a hit that he was wanted here by the Sheriff’s Office,” Beasley said.
Beasley says the jail has ordered two new safeguards to prevent a repeat. She says at two different points in the process, supervisors will have to approve the release of defendants facing charges of a high and aggravated nature.
Channel 2's Mark Winne says his investigation suggests so far that red flags surfaced with various agencies hours before the release.
Beasley told Winne that she believes somebody should’ve called the jail sooner.