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Inmate escapes from hospital, only to be caught later

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times

The last time authorities saw a Cook County Jail inmate, handcuffed to a crutch, was Tuesday morning when he overpowered a correctional officer at Stroger Hospital and hopped into a waiting sport-utility vehicle.
But by early evening, officers with the U.S. marshal and Cook County sheriff had caught up to Kirk Davis, 27, who was holed up in a South Side apartment. He had shaved off his braided cornrows, changed clothes and removed his shackles.

Davis was arrested without incident in the second-floor apartment at 71st and Langley, said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Four or five "associates" in the residence were being questioned. It was unclear who lived there.

Davis' sister and mother also were questioned.

"There was definitely planning involved," Dart said. "This wasn't a random thing."

Indeed, Davis ran to a waiting SUV so fast, neither the off-duty security guard who chased him nor the two officers he alerted could catch up.

"He ran like he was running the Olympics," the off-duty guard said of Davis, who had originally been jailed on aggravated robbery charges from two incidents in Orland Park and Crestwood. He had been jailed since March 13, an official said.

Davis was brought to the Near West Side hospital's Fantus Clinic handcuffed and in shackles, Cook County Jail Executive Director Tony Godinez said.

But around 9:30 a.m. -- between registration and treatment -- most of the shackles had been taken off Davis, and that's when he overpowered the corrections officer and bolted to the waiting SUV.

Police put out an all-points bulletin on a silver Jeep Liberty, driven by a woman, and surrounded the Jeffrey Manor neighborhood town house where the SUV is registered under Davis' name. There was no sign of Davis, but two women were whisked away in police cars.

Authorities are now investigating if the restraints were taken off by Davis or if it was done to allow treatment. If it's the latter, the sheriff would like to take a closer look at that.

The correctional officer with Davis was injured and admitted to the hospital, Dart said.

The off-duty guard was inside the hospital's emergency room during the commotion and saw Davis bolt out the hospital in his tan Cook County Department of Corrections outfit and a crutch dangling from his right arm.

Davis was in for cancer treatment and he told investigators that's why he escaped.

"His cancer is serious and he [said] he wanted to spend his remaining time out," Dart said.

Now authorities are looking at filing escape charges and will weigh charges against any accomplices.

Davis was charged with robbing $364 from an Orland Park Home Depot on March 4 after he purchased a 62-cent putty knife and stood in line for "liquid nails," officials said.

A week later, he also allegedly robbed a Family Dollar Store in Crestwood, leaving with $604 in cash, a Family Dollar bag and the green gift bag he had asked a clerk about.

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