Authorities are searching for a 22-year-old murder suspect who managed to escape from an SUV while the driver made a stop at McDonald's.
According to ABC 7, Leon Taylor was being extradited from Texas to Lake County, Indiana, on Monday when he broke out of a transport van driven by an REDI Transports agent. Surveillance shows Taylor opening the vehicle's back door and fleeing toward the road while reportedly wearing a belly chain, handcuffs, and a leg brace.
The driver, who was seen paying for the food during the escape, told authorities the suspect exited through a window; however, the newly released footage contradicts that claim and raises more questions about REDI Transports' procedural process.
"After watching the surveillance video, I am highly disturbed and disappointed by the procedures the private transportation driver used during the transfer of this suspect to our jail," Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr wrote on Facebook. "In the first video clip we provided, about 11 seconds in, the suspect appears to be struggling with his leg brace, and no shackles were used. We believe shackles could have prevented the suspect from getting away. We also believe the suspect may have been manipulating his leg brace during the trip and was apparently continuing to disable the device when he exited the SUV at the McDonald's drive-thru lane at 35th & Grant in Gary."
Martinez also criticized REDI Transports—a Wisconsin-based private company—for putting the public at risk, and said his team is looking into the "matter as part of an extensive review of the case." A representative for REDI Transports told ABC 7 the company is cooperating with law enforcement's probe, and claimed it was also conducting an internal investigation.
Taylor, an Indiana resident, is facing a murder charge in Chicago, where he allegedly robbed and fatally shot a 52-year-old man on Nov. 19. The fugitive is a 6-feet-tall, 162-pound Black male with hazel eyes and brown hair. Authorities describe Taylor as dangerous and have urged the public to contact police with any information on his whereabouts.