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Police reveal details about inmate escape

(Shmuel Thaler/Santa Cruz Sentinel)
November 30, 2010 7:50:40 PM PST
There are new details about the frightening Santa Cruz prisoner escape that could have easily ended in tragedy. The sheriff's deputy who was attacked is out of the hospital and the Maurice Ainsworth, the prisoner that broke free, is back in custody.

Santa Cruz police and sheriff's deputies are focusing on what went right: agency coordination, school lockdowns and the eventual capture of the suspect.

The sheriff believes Ainsworth planned his escape, knowing he would be out of shackles during a medical appointment at Domincian Hospital.

The lone deputy covering the 6 foot 7 inch felon was 5 foot 3 inch deputy Cathy Bramanti.

The sheriff says he will not make any knee-jerk permanent changes to transport policy.

"We do need to review our processes and fix that," Sheriff Phil Wowak said. "I am not going to say what we did was right and we will continue to do business as usual, because that would be very inappropriate."

A Tuesday news conference revealed more details about the frightening sequence of events, including how Ainsworth assaulted Bramanti in the hospital and when she gave chase, wrestled her Taser from her in the parking lot.

"He discharged that Taser and shot her in the head, he charged her with the Taser and essentially tasing her to incapacitation, did that twice and in doing so was able to wrestle her sidearm, her 40 caliber autopistol from her belt and also take her spare ammunition," Wowak said.

Authorities say Ainsworth then used that gun to shoot at a bystander who was yelling in an attempt to stop the assault, missing her by just two feet, late put the gun to the head of a preschool teacher and terrorized a couple in a nearby neighborhood who managed to escape.

Police say they actually captured Ainsworth in a second home unexpectedly.

"We sent our tactical team the residence next door to where we thought he was and encountered the suspect inside of that residence," Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said.

The sheriff admits things could have ended much worse and that is why policy will be reviewed but colleagues say their thoughts are with Bramanti.

"She was heroic in her actions and staying in the fight and doing everything in her power and beyond to bring the suspect into custody," Santa Cruz County Chief Deputy Jeff Marsh said.

Bramanti is recovering at home. Ainsworth is being treated at a secured medical facility after ingesting medication at one of the homes he was at in what may have been a suicide attempt.

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