BR man who slipped out of cuffs back behind bars

More than three months after slipping out of his handcuffs and walking out of a Baton Rouge police station, a Baton Rouge man is back in custody.

Brandon Mason, 22, was arrested early Saturday by East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies and booked into Parish Prison on counts of simple escape as well as theft of goods and possession of Schedule IV drugs, stemming from his initial arrest on Nov. 4.

On the day he escaped, the arresting officer had handcuffed Mason and another suspect, Otis Collins, 37, to a bench inside the Criminal Investigative Bureau Annex on Plank Road. A third suspect, Kizzie Whitaker, 32, was cuffed to another bench on the opposite side of the building, the arrest warrant says.

The officer went to the back to get booking paperwork in order when another officer told him Mason had said he needed to go to the restroom, the warrant says.

A few minutes later, the arresting officer walked out front and saw only Collins sitting on the bench, the warrant says.

“I observed that the handcuff was where Mason was seated,” the officer wrote in the warrant. “I then asked the arrestees where Mason was, at which time I was informed that he slipped out of the handcuff and walked south out of an exit door.”

Officers ran outside to find him but came up empty, the warrant says.

Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said officers are allowed to let nonviolent suspects who are in handcuffs out of their sight for a few minutes as long as the officer periodically checks on the suspect.

“That’s standard practice,” he said.

Mason, Collins and Whitaker were arrested after officers stopped their car following a report of a theft of some women’s underwear from a dollar store on Plank Road and Weller Avenue.

Their car, which Whitaker drove, matched the description store employees gave of the vehicle they saw fleeing the store following the theft, the warrant says.

Officers found the unopened pack of underwear under Mason’s seat, the warrant says.

Officers also found two 2-liter bottles of pineapple Fanta containing a lprazolam, which is commonly known as Xanax, and an unlabeled prescription pill bottle containing a large number of pills, the warrant says.

Whitaker, 9347 Cedar St., and Collins, 219 Stacey St., both of Baton Rouge, were each booked on counts of possession of Schedule IV drugs following Mason’s escape.

Mason’s escape occurred about two months before a slightly similar, yet more high-profile, escape occurred in the East Baton Rouge Violent Crime Unit at State Police Headquarters on Independence Boulevard.

On Jan. 5, Ryan Boatner, 27, crawled through the ceiling of a holding cell while handcuffed after police arrested him on counts of attempted first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection to a residential shootout earlier that day.

He was recaptured about six hours later in a nearby neighborhood.