Prison Guards' Series of Mistakes Ended in Their Deaths

Inside Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe's deadly June 13 escape
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2017 2:40 PM CDT
Deadly Escape From Prison Bus Began With Toothbrush
In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Ricky Dubose, left, and Donnie Russell Rowe enter the Putnam County courthouse in Eatonton, Ga.    (Bob Andres)

Two Georgia prison guards failed to properly search and secure their prisoners on a transfer bus, and their numerous security procedure violations cost them their lives, officials said Friday in reports on the deadly June 13 escape. The security lapses enabled inmates Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe to exit the inmate compartment, overpower Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, and use the officers' guns to kill them. An external review report says it began when Monica and Billue missed what's believed to be a toothbrush when searching Rowe before he boarded the bus around 4:42am. The officers failed to double-lock the inmates' restraints, which is required by policy. That allowed Dubose to remove his handcuffs within two minutes of boarding the bus.

He then removed the cuffs from Rowe and many other inmates, the report says. The "single greatest point of failure" was the failure to secure the gate between the inmate and officer compartments on the bus. The officers violated policy by leaving their assigned handguns in storage boxes throughout the trip rather than wearing them, and by not wearing ballistic vests. The bus also left Baldwin State Prison before sunrise, despite a policy that says prisoners shouldn't be transported in the dark unless there's an emergency. Rowe and Dubose ultimately got through the gate at about 6:40am. Among the changes put in place since: a trail vehicle now follows every prison transport. The AP has many more details on what transpired between 4:42am and 6:40am. The two men were ultimately captured in Tennessee. (More escaped criminal stories.)

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