ONLY ON 13: Video shows escaped inmate walking out door of Harris Co. jail intake center unnoticed

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Saturday, June 15, 2024
Video shows escaped inmate casually walking out unnoticed
Documents reveal Nigel Sanders allegedly escaped the Harris County Jail intake center through climbing up a ceiling in a tunnel.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Only Eyewitness News has surveillance camera footage that appears to show inmate Nigel Sanders in the moments after he escaped custody after a court hearing Thursday afternoon.

In the video, shared with ABC13 by a source, an inmate is seen casually walking out the doors of the jail intake center in downtown Houston barefoot and wearing orange jail pants. No one watches or stops him, highlighting the lack of security.

On Thursday, Sanders, 35, escaped custody while returning to jail following a court appearance. The escape led to a 12-hour search.

With a lengthy criminal history, authorities recently charged Sanders and placed him in custody for three burglaries. Officials said he made his daring escape after a court appearance.

According to new documents, Sanders climbed through the ceiling of a tunnel before he walked out one of the entrances.

Documents explain how tunnels connect 1301 Franklin to all the jails so that inmates can travel to court without having to be outside. According to officials, 50 to 60 inmates move back and forth through the tunnel from court hearings.

Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies said not all inmates are escorted and wearing handcuffs.

It isn't clear what security is like in the tunnels, but court documents expose a significant issue. Sanders climbed through the tunnels' drop ceiling from the secure side to the unsecured side. Investigators found orange slippers and other clothing along the path he escaped.

After walking out the doors, authorities said Sanders went up to an employee with the Harris County District Attorney's Office sitting in her car in the sallyport. Investigators accuse Sanders of threatening her with a knife and telling her to get out of the vehicle.

There was a struggle, and the car crashed, and Sanders got out and took off.

Sanders was found hiding at his mom's home in the 14000 block of Force Street at about 3 a.m. Friday. Both his mom and sister were also arrested.

SEE MORE: Escaped inmate caught at mother's house 12 hours after fleeing courthouse in downtown Houston: HCSO

ABC13 contacted the Harris County Sheriff's Office about its policy and how this could happen under their watch.

A spokesperson said, "The Harris County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the incident that occurred yesterday involving Nigel Sanders. While we are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation, we are aware of a video that shows Sanders exiting a maintenance building door near the Downtown Courthouse Complex. The safety and security of the inmates, employees and all others who visit court facilities is our priority. We take these matters seriously and will continue to evaluate all policies and procedures to ensure the secure transport of individuals to and from court."

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