Youths Get Out of Restraints, Assault Officer, Authorities Say; 1 Still at Large
by Clarence Williams and Sewell Chan, The Washington Post
Two teenagers overpowered a corrections officer yesterday and escaped
from a moving vehicle that was transporting five juveniles from D.C.
Superior Court to the Oak Hill Youth Center in Laurel, authorities said.
The incident began near Independence Avenue and D Street SE about 1 p.m.
when the two teenagers freed themselves from their restraints and assaulted
the Youth Services Administration officer, who was seated in the back of
One of the teenagers was captured by D.C. police about an hour later
after a brief foot chase that ended near 17th and A streets SE.
Police were searching last night for the second youth, a 16-year-old
male, who had appeared in D.C. Superior Court on charges of car theft and
driving without a permit, officials said. He is not being identified because
he is a minor.
The corrections officer, Bobby E. Tyler, was taken to Howard University
Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries, including abrasions,
In an interview last night, Tyler said one of the teenagers attacked
with blows to the head and simultaneously tried to open the van door. The
second youth joined the attack, allowing the first teenager to escape, Tyler
The van driver saw what was happening and turned the wrong way onto 19th
Street SE, trying to reach the D.C. jail in a hurry, Tyler said. When the
van turned a corner, Tyler said, he and the teenager fell out.
Officials said an investigation has begun into the incident.
Youth Services Administration security procedures have been closely
scrutinized in the wake of several incidents last year. Seven youths escaped
from Oak Hill in May and three in November. In June, a youth who escaped
May -- and then was recaptured -- got away again while being treated at
District hospital, and another youth took off while taking part in the Soap
Box Derby near the Capitol.
Yesterday, D.C. Council member Sandy Allen (D-Ward 8) repeated criticisms
of Gayle L. Turner, administrator of the Youth Services Administration,
which is part of the D.C. Department of Human Services.
"To think that we're still having some of the same basic problems
infuriated me," said Allen, who chairs the council committee that oversees
the Human Services Department. "I still have questions about Ms. Turner's
leadership. Maybe it's just not filtering down from the top, but something
is missing in the leadership at YSA."
Turner did not return phone calls for comment last night.
Mark I. Soler, president of the Youth Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy
group that has called for Oak Hill's closing, said youths being transported
to and from secure detention are generally kept in restraints for their
safety and that of others.
"These incidents raise concern about the adequacy of training of the
staff and implementation of security protocols within the system," Soler
said. "After escapes, assaults and other kinds of security concerns, the
security problems evidenced in this newest incident are deeply