Fugitive's accidental release explained - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Fugitive's accidental release explained

The only thing heard at the home of Melvin Johnson's family Friday was the sound of rap music playing. No one in the neighborhood was talking about where the accused armed robber might be since his accidental release from the Shelby County Jail last week.
    
"Anytime something like this happens, everybody seems to think, 'Well, what's going on down at 201 Poplar now?'" said Shelby County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Steve Shular.
    
The Sheriff's Office admits to letting Johnson out of jail one week ago.
    
"There was no charge to hold the fellow on," said Shular.
     
Shular says the fiasco unfolded after U.S. Marshals brought Johnson to the jail from a federal facility, but he can't explain why they dropped him off.
    
"I don't have the answer to that," Shular said.
    
At the time, Shular says jail staff were told Johnson had a pending court date: it turns out he didn't. Additionally, a check of local and federal warrants revealed nothing, and Johnson was released.
    
"In all fairness to our staff, they did everything that they were supposed to do," Shular said.
    
The U.S. Marshals Service is not nearly as forthcoming as the sheriff's office: a spokesperson will only say an administrative error occurred.

"They should have provided more information," said Shular.
     
A federal indictment ended Johnson's alleged crime spree more than a year ago. Shular suspects the information was never entered into the national crime database. 
    
"If it had been, then we certainly wouldn't have released him," said Shular.
     
Many worry about what might happen now that Johnson is free again.
     
The Marshals Service is vague about why it waited nearly a week before alerting the media about Johnson's release. 

An award has been offered for information leading to Melvin Johnson's capture. If you have any information, call (901) 544-3304. 

 


Click here to e-mail Jason Miles.

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