SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Jesse Gary/KTVU) - There's more trouble for administrators of Santa Clara County's jail system. This, after an inmate convicted for a violent crime was accidentally released. David Lopez is back behind bars at the main Santa Clara County jail, after enjoying a week of freedom due to clerical snafu.
"Anytime something like this happens, it is a concern. We don't take matters like this lightly. It is unacceptable," said sergeant Reggie Cooks, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
He says the mistake happened around 7:45 at night September 28, when a civilian clerk received paperwork releasing Lopez from the Elmwood correctional facility. He had served his time for grand theft, and was cleared to go. But the clerk didn't notice additional, concurrent, paperwork for a conviction for armed robbery which included pistol-wiping the victim.
Lopez was sentenced to eight years in state prison for that crime. But because the clerk didn't see the second set of paperwork, no one noticed the inmate was gone until a week later when he was scheduled for transport. The discovery sparked an immediate search.
"We notified all of our executive staff, our detectives, and they immediately started a search for the inmate," said Cooks.
Even though Lopez -- considered armed and dangerous -- had a week's head start, the search which started at 7:00 a.m. was over four hours later. Investigators say the big break came courtesy of Lopez himself, who took to social media -- posting selfies at stores and restaurants he frequented. He was rearrested at an east San Jose golf course.
This is the second major gaff regarding inmates prematurely out of jail for the beleaguered county system in as many years. Last November, two inmates used tools to cut through jail bars, and then went down bed blankets to street level and escape. Laron Campbell and Rogelio Chavez were caught a week later. Sheriff's Department officials say the clerk who signed off on David Lopez' release is subject to "corrective action."
"Anytime you have an inmate released who has been convicted of violent charges, it’s something that we take great care with and that we want to make sure that we protect the public," Cooks said.
Administrators may implement additional safeguards to prevent a repeat of this mistake, which ends with Lopez back in a cell, and possibly facing additional charges.