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Procedures likely weren't followed in inmate's escape

Posted November 17, 2010

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— Correctional officers most likely were not following procedures Tuesday when a prisoner escaped from a Chapel Hill hospital and stole a University of North Carolina campus police car, a top state prison official says.

Farley Linford Bernard, 46, was being treated at UNC Hospitals Tuesday afternoon when he escaped from two armed correctional officers, Department of Correction spokesman Keith Acree said

Bob Lewis, director of the state Division of Prisons, said Wednesday that one of the officers had taken off Bernard’s cuffs while the inmate was changing into a hospital robe behind a curtain.

He somehow got access to the police car and led police on a 20-mile chase until the patrol car crashed into a median wall on Interstate 40 near Graham in Alamance County.

“In terms of policies and procedures, there is no reason why the inmate should have been unrestrained at any time,” Lewis said.

Both officers have been reassigned, he said, and disciplinary action – which could range from a written warning to dismissal – will be determined once an investigation is complete. It's too early in the investigation to say whether any policies need to be changed.

Inmate’s hospital escape under review Inmate’s hospital escape under review

“Anytime we, as an agency, put the general public at risk, it is something that causes concern for us,” Lewis said.

A recording of radio traffic from Tuesday’s pursuit indicates law enforcement officers were very concerned about the public’s safety and considered Bernard very dangerous.

“Let everyone know, based on his actions, he is using deadly force,” one officer says. “He has gone head-on with several vehicles, including law enforcement. Speeds of 115 (mph).”

“Someone ought to have to take this vehicle out,” the recording continues.

Bernard faces one count each of larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, fleeing to elude arrest, escape and injury to personal property.

He is serving a 25-year prison sentence at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City for first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of stolen goods, according to Department of Correction records.


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  • ncguy Nov 18, 2010

    So sick of paying for everything for criminals!

    I think their family should have to pay for their healthcare- just like I have to do for my children.

  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter Nov 18, 2010

    How eles would the inmate have gotten his jumpsuit off, and the hospital gown on, if he was wearing cuffs? This is a no-brainer people. The cuffs HAD to come off.. Maybe DOC should have their own gowns that they should have the inmates put on before being taken to the hospital. That way the cuffs can stay on.

  • e2brtus Nov 18, 2010

    some enlightened Md's will refuse treatment to an inmate if the inmate is RESTRAINED! no kidding...also there are some JUDGES who refuse to hear a case should the inmate be restrained! in such a case, the officer is required to call the Prison and inform them of this and RETURN the inmate to the Prison ASAP! and...if the inmate is in CLOSE custody or higher,it takes TWO armed officers to escort the inmate BY HIM SELF,to and from the destination...look up the amount DOC spends each year on transportation alone and you will find enough money to run a small country...your tax dollars at work!

  • Bulldog22 Nov 18, 2010

    The DOC policies were supposedly changed after an inmate, also receiving treatment at UNC Memorial, was able to wrestle a firearm away from a female Corrections Officer and then shot himself in the chest, back in July of 2006. Guess they just got relaxed after 4 yrs of no "events".

  • dcblackburn1963 Nov 18, 2010

    sad that these underpaid correctional officers are going to be blamed for doing their job! if they had not taken the cuffs off so the CONVICT could receive FREE medical care, they would be hammered for violating this CONVICTS rights! what a sad sad world we live in!

  • haleibc Nov 18, 2010

    Now why drag the highway patrol in this? Yes they make mistakes just like everyone else. Theres always a few bad apples in every bunch but they are real men in uniform. They work the streets alone day and night not scraed, just doing their job. How many times do you see two or three shp officers have a vehicle stopped. None. These town police officers takes two or three cars at every traffis stop. One to write a tickett and two more to watch their back. If they are this scared, maybe they are in the wrong kind of job. Yes blame shp for their mistakes but don't blame them for the carelessness of these boys that try to be real cops.

  • gomob1981 Nov 18, 2010

    I just wonder if the exam called for clothing to be removed. It's kind of difficult to have a medical exam fully completed in a full doc jump suit, wist and leg restraints. Sounds like the DOC trying once again to cover their flawed procedures by utilizing public fear.

  • airbornemonty Nov 18, 2010

    Some prisoners are very slick at what they do that is why they are in prison and should never be trusted without handcuffs and leg restraints.

    A guard and I were escorting a convicted soldier to prison in Europe and the prisoner dared us to shoot him.

    What the prisoner didn't realize was we would have without a single doubt and you don't want to get hit by a 45 caliber bullet nowhere on your body.

  • WHEEL Nov 18, 2010

    Commedy of errors. Uncuffing a 46 yr old man serving a 25 yr sentence. What's he got to loose? Leaving the keys in the patrol car.

  • notagain1903 Nov 18, 2010

    And following the incident all of the officers involved were granted immeadiate acceptance to the State Highway Patrol!!!!!