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How Philly police released a prisoner by accident

A 53-year-old prisoner was allowed to walk out of a police station.
Russell Allen Bryant (PPD)

A man charged with attempted rape was re-apprehended Wednesday morning after being accidently released from police custody the day before.

During a news conference held Wednesday afternoon, police spokesman Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said that the incident happened when paperwork from the prisoner’s unrelated theft charges was separated from paperwork on his arrest and charge for attempted sexual assault.

“This person, I can happily tell you, is back in police custody,” said the captain.

According to Kinebrew, the mistaken release occurred at about 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday, when Russell Allen Bryant, 53, was mistakenly released from the city’s 18th police district, in West Philadelphia, after he was arraigned on theft charges from an incident that occurred along the 3500 block of Lancaster Avenue on May 11.

Kinebrew said that, since May 23, Bryant had been in police custody at Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility after being arrested on charges of attempted rape, attempted sexual assault and related charges stemming from an incident that occurred along the 5500 block of Thompson Street in October of last year.

The captain said that, at some point, the paperwork for the two incidents became separated, and Bryant was mistakenly released after he was arraigned on the theft charges.

“What should have happened is he should have been brought back up,” said the captain. “He may have believed that he had been released.”

Bryant was found and apprehended again on Wednesday at sometime between 9 and 9:30 a.m., when Kinebrew said he struck up a conversation with a Drexel campus police officer on the college’s campus and was recognized as the escaped prisoner.

“He went to Drexel to talk about another case, and they recognized him,” said the captain.

Kinebrew said that police do not believe that Bryant had committed any new crimes during the 16-hour period in which he was free.

Asked if Bryant might face new charges due to the escape, Kinebrew said that because he was released due to a paperwork error, he didn’t believe that Bryant would face additional charges, but he noted that the police are still reviewing the incident.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like it,” said the captain.