Knoxville (WVLT) - The Knox County Sheriff's Department says that proper procedures were not followed by the employee in charge of transporting inmates at the time when 19-year-old Demarcus Sanchez Johnson escaped from custody Monday night.
"[He] managed to slip out of his handcuffs somewhere between the Detention Facility and the Downtown Jail," says Martha Dooley, spokeswoman for the Knox County Sheriff's Department.
In a news release sent out Tuesday morning, KCSO says Johnson was not properly shackled and was able to slip his hand out of his handcuffs and escape. According to the Sheriff's Department, the transportation officer was supposed to visually confirm that Johnson's restraints remained on during the transport.
They say he slipped through his handcuffs, through the double doors, through the lobby, and onto the elevator.
"A member of the mayor's staff got on the elevator with him, and noticed that he had on his jump suit inside out, rode down with him and called Sheriff Jones, and Sheriff Jones said, 'You know we had somebody run, you know that's him,'" Dooley says.
"Just appeared to be a young man who was nervous. He was wearing a white jump suit, as I looked at it coming down the elevator, it looked like it might be a black and white inmate jump suit turned inside out, but I was never really certain about that," says Dwight Van De Vate, who was on the elevator with Johnson. "And actually, we were not certain until we got back to the sheriff's office, and they did a head count that there was even an escapee," he says.
When Van De Vate saw Johnson's prison bracelet, he notified authorities.
"I put a call into Sheriff Jones, and he had people respond as quickly as possible," he says. "By the time they got there, the inmate had ducked out of the building."
As authorities search the area an investigation is underway, after all that's happened, right now they are looking at improper procedure.
"The inmate should have been shackled with what's called belly chains, and their feet should have been shackled. Instead they were handcuffed two by two and that's against our policy and procedure," Dooley says.
Demarcus Johnson remains on the run at this time, Deputies continue to search for him using tracking teams, K-9 units and helicopters. He was being transported from the Detention Facility to the downtown jail on charges of aggravated assault, a weapons charge and criminal impersonation.
He is described as a black male, 5’ 10”, and weighs 135 pounds. He has a tattoo that says “Demarcus” on his left forearm, a cross on his right arm, and on his right forearm is a tattoo that says “Georgia Boy.”
If anyone sees Johnson, they are urged to call 911 or the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 865-215-2243.