LOS ANGELES — A furloughed sheriff’s deputy who was arrested could have easily earned himself a nickname this week — like Houdini or Invisible Man — after he escaped from a patrol car.
Edward Tucker sat handcuffed on the back seat after fellow officers found meth, five guns and possibly explosives in his car in Bakersfield, California, on Tuesday, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said.
Standing feet away from him, the arresting deputies turned their backs, and when they turned back around, Tucker was gone.
Authorities caught up with him on Friday, as he hid in a residential garage, and took him back in. He is charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed, possession of narcotics paraphernalia and possession of an illegal weapon, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
CNN is reaching out for comment to Tucker’s attorney.
What the arresting deputies apparently didn’t see, a surveillance camera in the underground garage of the sheriff’s office did.
It captured Tucker on video as he strolled away in flip-flops and shorts with no cuffs on his wrists, while the officers processed the arrest on a computer on the other side of the squad car.
But slipping out of cuffs may not have been Tucker’s only trick. He got officers to handcuff him in a special way, complaining of back pain. This may have made the cuffs looser. And he got them to roll down the window after he complained of nausea, CNN affiliate KERO reported.
“It’s not uncommon for us to double handcuff; it’s not uncommon for us to roll a window down so that a suspect can get air, but it is uncommon to not pay attention to that suspect,” said Sheriff Donny Youngblood.
Prior arrest, bail
Tucker was careful not to arouse attention, the video showed. Free from the cuffs, he first reached out of the open window to unlock the door from the outside — then he gently closed it again and waited on the back seat for an opportune moment.
Then he slipped out of the car and crouched behind it before walking away with his hands in his pockets. Once he turned a corner, he took off running for the exit, video showed.
About 15 minutes later, the deputies turned around. They did a double-take, searching the back seat for Tucker twice, then scoured the parking lot.
Tucker has been on paid leave from his duties as a sheriff’s deputy for more than a year, and he was arrested previously — on Saturday — after waving a gun at juvenile girls, KERO reported, citing the sheriff’s office.
During that arrest as well, police found eight firearms in his possession — five handguns, two shotguns and an assault rifle.
That day, Tucker went free on bail.