Deputy Fired After Inmate Escapes from S.C. Hospital

The inmate was in the hospital following his arrest after he was suspected of swallowing a narcotic.
Published: July 19, 2017

A Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy has been fired after an inmate escaped from her custody at Trident Medical Center on Sunday.

Authorities say 28-year-old Mariel A. Watson escaped from his South Carolina hospital room while using the bathroom. The now former deputy had removed the man’s handcuffs and shackles and was the only deputy guarding Watson at the time of the escape, according to The Post and Courier.

Sheriff Duane Lewis said the deputy tried to pursue Watson and notified hospital security. When she could not apprehend him, she returned to the hospital room to notify her supervisors and dispatchers.

Lewis said the deputy had worked as a detention officer for several years before becoming a transport deputy a year ago. He said the deputy did not follow protocol and apologized to the public.

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“When you’re sitting there with an inmate for eight or 12 hours and there’s conversations, you don’t know if they feel sorry for them or begin to trust them or what,” Lewis said. “The fact of the matter is none of that matters.”

Watson was originally arrested by the Goose Creek Police Department following three bench warrants, reports Live 5 News. The warrants included giving false information, resisting arrest, and unlawful carrying of a firearm. He was also wanted in Georgia for failing to register as a sex offender.

Watson was admitted to the hospital on Friday under supervision of the sheriff’s office for an examination after he was suspected of swallowing a narcotic.

Several agencies aided the sheriff’s office in searching for Watson, including a K-9 unit and a Charleston County Sheriff’s helicopter. He was apprehended early the next morning in a wooded area, approximately nine hours after his escape.

Lewis thanked the media and citizens for tips that lead to Watson’s capture.

“We’re dealing with human beings, and people make mistakes,” Lewis said. “But when we have someone in custody, we don’t have the luxury to have those mistakes.”

Watson currently is being held at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center and now faces additional charges of escape and resisting arrest.

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