Local News

Wake inmate facing sex charges back in jail after mistaken release

Posted October 1, 2014

— A Raleigh man jailed on multiple sex offenses who was mistakenly released from the Wake County Detention Center Tuesday night was taken back into custody Wednesday afternoon while at a funeral.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said deputies found Brandon Marquis Cozart, 24, of 941 Juamaa Drive, in the Sampson County town of Wallace around 3 p.m. after receiving a tip that he was planning to attend the service.

Cozart was initially arrested Tuesday evening and jailed under a $2.5 million bond on five counts of statutory rape involving a 14-year-old child in May and a 15-year-old child in September.

Harrison said a case of mistaken identity allowed Cozart to walk out of jail several hours later.

"This was a jail error. We take full responsibility for it," he said. "It was all human error, on our part. There's no question about it."

Jail employees, he said, failed to follow policy by not verifying tracking numbers and barcodes on paperwork with those on ID bracelets that inmates are issued when they are processed.

"We're looking into it, and there will be disciplinary action," he said. "To what extent, I do not know at this time until I find out all the details."

A man named Brandon Maurice Smith, being held on a failure to appear charge related to a driving while impaired citation, made bond Tuesday night.

When a detention officer called his first name to let him know he was free to go, Cozart responded. Cozart signed his own name on the paperwork for Smith's release and walked free, Harrison said.

Harrison said his staff quickly figured out the mistake – the two men share a first name but look nothing alike – and allowed Smith out, but Cozart was already gone.

After searching most of Wednesday, deputies, with assistance from the Sampson County Sheriff's Office and Raleigh Police Department, were able to track him down.

Cozart's bond, meanwhile, has been increased to $9 million, to include new charges of failure to appear – for not showing up at a 9 a.m. court appearance – and felony escape. His first court appearance is now scheduled for Thursday.


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  • 678devilish Oct 2, 2014

    From the looks of the pictures, I can certainly tell that its TWO DIFFERENT men.

  • disgusted2010 Oct 2, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Because the liberal media has not gotten behind it. Harrison is WRAL's darling, media pandering, anti gun hero.

  • disgusted2010 Oct 2, 2014

    The Secret Service Director was forced out due to mistakes way down the chain of command from her. SO why is the liberal media not clamoring for Donnie Harrison to resign?

  • European American Oct 2, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Explain that to everyone that wanted the now-former head of the Secret Service to be fired or resign.

  • PITNSMOKE Oct 2, 2014

    This person needs to be terminated. Period, theres a difference in making a mistake at Mcdonalds and making a mistake by releasing a criminal. People need to do what they get paid for. If this is a good sheriff he will at least remove this person form their position and be glad no other crimes where committed by this man.

  • James McFetridge Oct 1, 2014
    user avatar

    For everyone who blames the sheriff, does your boss stand over you at your job (assuming you have one) continuously throughout the entire shift? Instead, he probably trusts you to do it or he would do it himself. The sheriff is a busy man with an entire county to cover. He may have had a say in hiring the individual who made the mistake, but that's the extent.

    Now put yourself in the shoes of the person who made the mistake. Can you imagine how guilty or terrible he/she must have felt after making such a blunder? Fortunately the inmate was recaptured and no one got hurt.

  • 123skipjack Oct 1, 2014

    View quoted thread

    ...So did this article

  • TeaBagOnLove Oct 1, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Ahhh... What does Harrison have to do with deputies making a mistake? He is the Wake County Sheriff, not the keeper of the keys that let the guy out.

  • slowhand0461 Oct 1, 2014

    They caught him.. Sadly these things happen... But the Jailer should be reprimanded or fired.. Donnie Harrison wasn't there nor did he personally let the guy go.. Geez people.. Read articles about the fact that they have re arrested him before jumping to conclusions.....

  • The Blades Oct 1, 2014

    ABC11 reports he's been recaptured.