I-TEAM: Sheriff's office admits Walnut Creek Nordstrom theft suspect released by mistake

ByMelanie Woodrow via KGO logo
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office admits its a mistake after ABC7 News began digging into the release of a Walnut Creek Nordstrom theft suspect.

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office admits it made a mistake after the ABC7 News I-Team began digging into the release of a suspect in the mass retail theft at the Walnut Creek Nordstrom.

It all started when ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow called defendant Joshua Underwood Monday and learned he and his family believed his charges had been dropped. Now the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office says Underwood was released due to a "computer input error." On Tuesday, he's back in custody.

Underwood's family member carried out his Louis Vuitton bag from Contra Costa County Superior Court Tuesday after deputies cuffed him and took him back into custody.

Underwood is one of three suspects in the November 20 Walnut Creek Nordstrom flash-mob style theft.

VIDEO: Brazen flash mob-style robbery of Walnut Creek Nordstrom sparks outrage from city leaders

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office says he was released from custody on November 24, the same day the DA's Office filed charges.

The ABC7 News I-Team called Underwood's home Monday. He and his mother said they believed his charges had been dropped and initially knew nothing of his court appearance.

The I-Team alerted District Attorney Diana Becton.

In court Tuesday, at Underwood's arraignment, the prosecuting DA said Underwood had been released by mistake.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office now tells the I-TEAM Underwood was released due to a computer input error.

RELATED: Contra Costa Co. Sheriff's Office 'investigating' why Nordstrom theft suspect was released

"We have the utmost faith in the Sheriff's Department. This might have been a clerical error. They're very good at their jobs and they'll correct it," said Deputy District Attorney Jordan Sanders.

The ABC7 News I-Team also learned that Underwood admitted to his involvement in another Bay Area burglary the same night as the Nordstrom theft.

"He made a statement to the police that prior to coming to Nordstrom in Walnut Creek, he and other co-conspirators had engaged in a burglary of a pharmacy in Alameda County," said Sanders.

Underwood's mistaken release is not the only issue in this case.

Sanders says another suspect Dana Dawson, who posted bail and was released last week would have also been remanded back into custody Tuesday had her parole officer had a parole warrant into the court just 15 minutes sooner.

Dawson, a previously convicted felon is accused of using a Glock handgun in the Nordstrom theft.

RELATED: 3 arrested, firearm recovered from Walnut Creek Nordstrom store burglary involving 80 people: Police

ABC7 News I-Team Reporter Melanie Woodrow asked Sanders, "What does the DA's office want to say to the people of this community about that?"

"I think it speaks to the nature of the criminal justice system and the laws that we've enacted recently that violent felons are out of custody and they're committing again violent crimes," said Sanders.

"This is unacceptable we have the highest profile story outside of COVID in the entire country and our offices here in the county are not communicating with each other on what is happening to criminals that have been arrested that have the community outraged and we are currently looking to arrest more criminals," said Walnut Creek Mayor Kevin Wilk.

A third suspect, Rodney Robinson is in custody. Robinson pleaded not guilty Monday.

The suspects are due back in court next month.