AG vows ‘exhaustive’ probe in Elliot escape

Michael Elliot leaves a courtroom in LaPorte, Ind. (Feb. 4, 2014)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Attorney General promises his investigation into a convicted murderer’s escape from a state prison will be unfettered by politics and ‘thorough,’ but some Democratic legislators aren’t so sure.

“You know, part of this is it sounds like a bad TV show,” Attorney General Bill Schuette told 24 Hour News 8.

And some of it does. It took Michael Elliot, 40, nearly an hour on the evening of Feb. 2 to pull apart two fences at the Ionia Correctional Facility with his bare hands and get away. He then allegedly carjacked a woman and forced her to drive with him to the Elkhart, Indiana area. She escaped there unharmed, but Elliot continued on. He allegedly stole a total of four vehicles before being arrested by sheriff’s deputies in LaPorte County, Ind. about 24 hours after his escape.

Michael Elliot. (Courtesy LaPorte County Sheriff's Office - Feb. 3, 2014)
Michael Elliot. (Courtesy LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office – Feb. 3, 2014)

Two corrections officers from the prison have been suspended indefinitely after being accused of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and violating security precautions. One of them is also accused of failing to report.

And Schuette’s office has launched an investigation into the escape.

“Obviously, there was something that went horribly wrong within the security perimeter,” he said.

Earlier this week, House Democrats asked for an independent, third-party investigation into Elliot’s escape. They say Republicans who control state government can’t be trusted to fairly assess whether budget cuts contributed to the incident.

“There were concerns that were made by corrections officials that when there were cuts that were made to perimeter security and the tower guards, that this was going to affect security. And unfortunately, those concerns were either ignored or just not taken seriously, Rep. Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) told 24 Hour News 8.

But Schuette says he won’t pull any punches.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. (file)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. (file)

“We’ll be having a full and complete and thorough and an exhaustive investigation,” he said. “Without fear of favor, wherever the chips fall, this will be a complete report. We’ll release it to the public.”

That assurance isn’t good enough for Democrats who doubt that Schuette, a Republican, will be impartial.

“It’s human nature that you’re going to have bias,” Lamonte said.

Schuette said that’s all just politics.

“I don’t have time for that and the public doesn’t want that. This will be an independent, complete and thorough  investigation,” he said.

He said he doesn’t yet have a time frame for wrapping up the investigation — he said he doesn’t want to rush it.

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