DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Wayne County authorities searched well into the night Monday to find an escaped prisoner who allegedly stabbed a deputy in a dramatic flight.
Over 14 hours after 25-year-old Abraham Pearson broke out of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, he was back in police custody after someone spotted him hitchhiking in the area of Mt. Elliott and I-94 and called 911.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said Pearson — aka “Derrek White” — will face 11 additional charges related to his alleged attack and escape.
Dozens of officers fanned out across Detroit on Monday to search for Pearson, a convicted carjacker, after he allegedly used a plastic comb to stab a sheriff’s deputy and escape from a downtown courthouse.
Napoleon said 63-year-old Deputy Harrison Tolliver was transporting three prisoners into a courthouse holding cell at around 8 a.m. when Pearson attacked.
“He overpowered the deputy,” said Napoleon. “He had a plastic comb that he had turned into a weapon — something that wouldn’t have been picked up on the metal detectors that we use to ensure that folks are not armed.”
Pearson repeatedly stabbed Tolliver in the neck, took the deputy’s uniform, ran from the courthouse and carjacked a minivan, police said. The vehicle eventually was abandoned blocks away on the city’s east side.
Tolliver’s injuries were not considered serious. He was listed in good condition Monday afternoon.
Napoleon said Tolliver, a retired Detroit police officer who joined the Sheriff’s Office last December, followed all proper procedures.
“As a matter of practice, deputies who transport prisoners from the jail to the court are not armed — just to make sure that this person would not have access to a weapon during the course of that transport,” Napoleon said.
Asked whether or not a second deputy should have been assisting in the transport, Napoleon called that “a staffing issue.”
Pearson was recently convicted of carjacking and was facing many years in prison. He claimed he was unwittingly given a stolen car as a way to settle a debt, but Judge Dana Hathaway disagreed and found him guilty.
Defense attorney James Howarth said Pearson’s mental health was an issue. He spent months at a state psychiatric center before being found competent to face trial. One expert accused him of malingering.
Howarth, however, said Pearson reported a history of hallucinations, and he wonders if mental health played a role in the escape.
“In his right mind he would not have done this,” Howarth said. “In the year I have known him, he has never showed the slightest symptom of being dangerous. Something is very wrong.”
Of the escape, Howarth said: “It may have been a final act of desperation if you don’t want to go to prison.”
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