New York City correction officials have turned a murder suspect loose after he spent three years behind bars awaiting trial.
Christopher Buggs, 26, was released from Rikers Island at 2 a.m. Tuesday after the city’s Correction Department made a mistake, according to the New York Daily News.
While Buggs had been stewing in jail awaiting trial on his 2018 murder charge, he picked up a misdemeanor conviction for criminal contempt, sources told the Daily News.
That conviction carried a sentence of 30 days behind bars. But due to a clerical error, the sentence was listed as the final disposition of the murder charge against him, and so he was allowed to leave Rikers, sources told the outlet.
The New York City Police Department has released a photo of Buggs and is asking anyone who might have a clue where the murder suspect is to let them know.
Buggs is considered armed and dangerous, according to the Daily News.
Correction officers have reportedly even been told that if they find him, they should let the NYPD arrest him.
A Brooklyn murder suspect was released from Rikers Island in the dead of night after a clerical screw-up.
Christopher Buggs, 26, is considered armed and so dangerous that correction officers were warned not to approach him but rather to call the NYPD. https://t.co/LYRVFcbngR
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 10, 2021
“We are aware of this incident, and a full investigation into how this happened is underway,” Correction Department spokesman Peter Thorne told the Daily News. “Right now we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this individual to custody.”
New York City is coming off of a skyrocketing rise in violent crime in 2020, and began the year with a 16.7 percent increase in shootings in January compared to the same month in 2020, according to city statistics.
During 2020, shootings increased 97 percent from 777 in 2019 to 1,531 in 2020. Murders rose 44 percent from 319 to 462, according to the New York Post.
In February, police made 400 gun arrests, an increase of 63.9 percent compared to February 2020, according to WNBC-TV.
Innocent New Yorkers continue to fall victim to violent crime. https://t.co/xs9YZBSpat
— SBA (@SBANYPD) March 10, 2021
“The city’s resilience and prosperity are threatened by the deep uncertainty created by the pandemic, compounded by New York’s flagging efforts against crime,” he wrote.
“The rise in crime also took place in a year in which the state passed criminal-justice reforms putting more defendants back on the streets while they await trial, even as studies show that a significant number of these freed individuals commit new crimes while free,” Malanga added.
“A series of local prosecutors elected on an agenda of decriminalizing many minor crimes have sent a message that certain kinds of disorder seem acceptable again. Cops, eyeing these changes to law enforcement, are backing off on enforcement or, worse, simply giving up, making it harder to maintain the kind of street presence that deters bad guys.”
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