06/15/2006

Handcuffed and naked, prisoner flees N.Y. hospital

By Sue Weibezahl, Staff writer
The Post-Standard
Copyright 2006 Post-Standard
All Rights Reserved

Rashon D. Delee ripped out an intravenous drip, monitors and a chest tube, threw his hospital gown in a deputy's face and then bolted from a bathroom, the Onondaga County sheriff said Monday.

The burglary suspect with a collapsed lung sprinted through Crouse Hospital Sunday afternoon - naked and handcuffed - as blood spurted from a gaping stab wound to his chest, Sheriff Kevin Walsh said.

His father, Craig Delee, and the deputy who had been guarding Delee, Kurt Giles, slipped on the blood splatters as they chased him, Walsh said.

Rashon Delee shoved his father out of the way and took off, according to hospital surveillance tapes, said Bob Allen, speaking for Crouse. Delee sprinted down five flights of stairs with his pursuers "about two seconds behind him," Allen said.

Delee managed to slip out of one handcuff while running, possibly because the lubrication from sweat and blood helped him slip it off.

He eluded authorities for three hours - about two of which he spent in a trash bin behind a Marshall Street restaurant - before they caught him at 8:21 p.m. at a relative's house on Madison Street, according to city police and the sheriff's office.

Delee's case marks the second time in four months a suspect has escaped from sheriff's office custody.

Walsh said in this case Giles may have been "showing some humanity" by letting Delee use the toilet without shackles because inmates are supposed to be restrained with handcuffs and leg shackles while in the hospital. But "it was a judgment call that probably shouldn't have been made," the sheriff said.

"He's hooked up, he's in pain, there's a nurse there," Walsh said. "Are leg shackles really necessary? The answer is yes. This was a real wake-up call for us that you can't be lulled into complacency."

Walsh said internal investigators are reviewing whether Giles, a deputy for two years, acted appropriately. The case may lead to retraining, so deputies know they shouldn't make exceptions to policies, he said.

Giles' radio would not let him communicate directly with 911, so the jail officers had to call the emergency center and city police, Walsh said.

"It only caused a momentary delay, but when seconds count, we want to have the fastest communications we can," Walsh said. "That's a hole in the policy that needs to be plugged."

Delee was at the hospital after being stabbed by his former girlfriend, Nicole Ingram, when he broke into her apartment at 324 Furman St., Syracuse, about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police said. Police determined Ingram, who had an order of protection against Delee, acted in self-defense.

He was charged with felony counts of burglary and criminal contempt and a misdemeanor harassment count five hours later when he went to the hospital. He also was wanted on warrants charging him with additional counts of criminal contempt as well as criminal trespass, petit larceny and resisting arrest.

Delee was charged Sunday night with felony escape and is still being treated at Crouse, Walsh said.

In February, Patrick D. Stewart, 29, escaped from sheriff's deputies as he was riding an elevator while being transported from the John H. Mulroy Civic Center to the Justice Center jail for violating probation. He was caught a month later.

After that, Walsh and his administrators instituted policies that required people arrested on probation violations to be escorted by at least two officers and only be allowed to ride on elevators under the sole control of deputies.

"We're obviously looking at all procedures now to see what may need tightening," Walsh said.

Sue Weibezahl can be reached at sweibezahl@syracuse.com or 470-3039. 

See related:

Fugitive shot, killed after desperate escape attempt

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