Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Officers assigned to escaped inmate fired

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The correctional officers assigned to Kelvin Poke, the Jessup Correctional Facility inmate who escaped from Laurel Regional Hospital last month, have been fired, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced Feb. 7.

‘‘There were multiple problems with the way the inmate was guarded,” said Mark Vernarelli, director of public safety for the department. ‘‘Of course, nobody likes to fire anybody but in this case ... a terrible situation [occurred].”

Venarelli called the firings a personnel matter and said neither the names of the officers nor the specifics of the investigation that led to their termination were being released to the public.

Poke, 45, died in a shootout with police in Suitland Jan. 2 after overpowering the two officers at the hospital, stealing their guns and carjacking a Toyota. A subsequent investigation revealed that Poke’s handcuffs had been removed just prior to his escape.

Vernarelli said the fired officers have the right to appeal, but that their terminations are effective immediately.