Sheriff's office: Staffing not to blame for Rolling Meadows courthouse escape

  • Jonathan J. Scott, 24, escaped from custody at the Rolling Meadows courthouse Wednesday.

    Jonathan J. Scott, 24, escaped from custody at the Rolling Meadows courthouse Wednesday. Courtesy of ABC 7

 
 
Updated 7/22/2016 12:13 PM

The prisoner who led authorities on a three-hour manhunt after fleeing the Rolling Meadows courthouse Wednesday is being held on $1 million bail after Cook County prosecutors Thursday filed a felony escape charge against him.

The Cook County sheriff's office said it is launching a thorough investigation into how Jonathan J. Scott was able to escape. As part of the inquiry, they say they will conduct a comprehensive review of staff and procedures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're investigating all the facts and circumstances regarding this incident and will take appropriate action," said sheriff's spokeswoman Kara Smith.

There was an increased presence of sheriff's deputies in court Thursday when Scott, 24, appeared on the felony escape charge. If convicted, he would face seven to 14 years in prison without the option for probation.

Scott -- whose most recent address was in Oak Park, but who officials said is homeless -- had been in custody since last week on drug-related charges, obstructing justice and resisting arrest. He was in court Wednesday afternoon regarding an ongoing order of protection case.

The escape occurred after Scott was handcuffed to a table in a holding room while waiting to be transferred to the county jail, said Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Maureen McGee.

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When sheriff's deputies reportedly left him in the holding room, Scott was able to get out of his handcuffs, McGee said. He first tried to leave through an adjoining courtroom, but the door was locked. Sheriff's deputies came back and found him free of his restraints, so they re-handcuffed him and left, she said.

That's when Scott was again able to get out of his handcuffs and walk out of the courthouse's front door shortly after 2 p.m., McGee said.

"The defendant was observed running from the courthouse and taking his shirt off," she said.

Prosecutors said Scott later told police he ran because he could not make bail and feared he would not be able to see his son.

The escape was not the result of a shortage of guards at the courthouse, Smith said.

"There is no suggestion that this was related to staffing," she said.

Scott, who was not armed, was free for more than three hours before being recaptured in an Arlington Heights neighborhood while trying to hide in the trunk of a parked car. Scott told police that he ran until he found an open garage and hid inside the trunk until he could no longer breathe, authorities said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

His original arrest occurred July 16 at a Motel 6 in Elk Grove Village, when police got a call that someone heard a loud bang coming from one of the rooms and thought a man was trying to hurt a woman inside. The woman who called police reported hearing the man yell expletives at the woman and saying "I'll burn all your stuff," prosecutors said.

According to court records, Scott has a long criminal past, including a conviction in 2011 for aggravated battery to a police officer, for which he served 90 days in jail; a criminal trespassing charge in 2014; and eight misdemeanors between 2014 and 2016, for which he served various amounts of jail time.

Smith said courthouse escapes are rare, but similar attempts have occurred in the past.

"It's not something that never happens, but it's also not a regular occurrence," she said. "Obviously anytime this happens it's something we need to pay close attention to."

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