Courthouse security footage obtained by The Chronicle of an attempted escape by two inmates Tuesday afternoon depicts Judge R.W. Buzzard grabbing hold of one escapee just as he’s primed to exit the building.
The second escapee made it a few blocks away before he too was caught by authorities.
For their troubles, Tanner D. Jacobson, 22, of Onalaska and Kodey L. Howard, 28, of Winlock were each hit with a felony charge of second-degree escape.
Surveillance shows four inmates being escorted out by one deputy, who is out of frame for most of the footage provided by Lewis County. Howard and Jacobson are last in line, and both, rather than walk through an exit to the right of the judge’s seat where inmates are brought in and out, pivot and run for the public door at the back of the courtroom.
Howard is seen in the lead with Jacobson right on his heels, both taking an unobstructed course through the third-floor courtroom, and out the door. Buzzard gives chase, shedding his black robe and running after them.
Cameras situated in each floor of the stairwell show that Jacobson took the lead, rapidly descending down the four flights of stairs to the bottom floor — sometimes taking several steps at a time. The distance between Jacobson and Howard widens with each flight, and Buzzard is seen closing in on Howard, grabbing him and going out of frame just as Howard was about to go through an open emergency exit door on the ground floor. Several people, who aren’t clearly seen on camera, emerge on the scene in seconds.
“These things don’t happen very often,” said Sheriff Rob Snaza. “They’re few and far between.”
Snaza said this represents the second such incident within the last couple of years, that he’s aware of. There are monthly meetings to discuss courthouse security issues.
During this incident, Snaza said, security measures and quick communication made deputies aware of the incident quickly. The only deputy in the room did not give chase because he had two other inmates in his care, said Snaza.
“We’re very aware of what’s going on at a moment’s notice,” he said.
Other Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Jail officials didn’t immediately return requests for comment.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told The Chronicle in a previous interview that one idea to curb courthouse incidents was to allow for additional armed guards — whether they be deputies or private security — monitoring the courthouse at all times.
“Because quite frankly, I don’t like it when judges are jumping over the bench to chase people down … because that’s not what they’re trained to do,” said Meyer.
The concept is far from set in stone, and is in the preliminary stage of planning, he said.
Howard was recently placed on a $50,000 cash bond, and Jacobson on a $100,000 cash bond.