An accused murderer who was allowed to walk the streets of New York City for a month following a bureaucratic bungle was recaptured Friday.
“I started to see the cops come in — 15-20 cops ran in,” Alex Mohammed, a clerk at Snacks Convenience Store, said.
“He was arrested. He stayed quiet and said nothing,” Mohammed said, noting that another person was arrested along with Buggs.
“I just kept doing my job. I think he did something bad. I can’t tell the cops what to do, it’s their job.”
Buggs stands accused of murdering Ernest BrownLee, 55, during a dispute outside of a bodega in 2018, according to officials.
While Buggs had been stewing in jail awaiting trial on his murder charge, he picked up a misdemeanor conviction for criminal contempt after cursing out the judge who denied him bail during a February hearing.
The two contempt of court orders the judge delivered lasted 30 days.
ACCIDENTALLY RELEASED? Police are searching for #ChristopherBuggs He was arrested on a murder charge in #BedStuy in 2018. He was released yesterday from #Rikers but now the #NYPD is trying to find him.
Have Info? Call @NYPDTips 1-800-577-TIPS
— 𝙆𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙚 𝙇𝙪𝙨𝙨𝙤 (@KatieLusso) March 10, 2021
Due to a clerical error, the 30-day sentence was mistaken as Buggs’ only conviction, and Buggs was allowed to leave Rikers.
Four Rikers staffers, including an assistant deputy warden, were suspended without pay because of the incident — which saw the accused murderer walk free for five weeks.
It was unclear as of Friday what Buggs had been doing since he was let out of Rikers.
Buggs was arrested on a charge of first-degree escape because he did not turn himself in after jail staff let him go.
“After an intensive manhunt, DOC’s Corrections Intelligence Bureau and the US Marshall’s Regional Fugitive Task Force apprehended accused murderer Christopher Buggs, who had been erroneously discharged from custody last month,” Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said in a statement, according to New York Daily News.
“We hope that Mr. Buggs’ swift return to Rikers Island provides some comfort to the victim’s family.”
Jonathan Fink, the lawyer representing Buggs, said his client should not be charged with escaping.
“He didn’t escape. He was let out of Rikers mistakenly. I don’t believe he’s done anything wrong. … I don’t know whether he was aware that he was supposed to surrender,” Fink said. “He didn’t miss a court date.”
Buggs is scheduled to appear before Judge Vincent Del Giudice next week, who issued a warrant for his arrest.
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