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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nunchuck Ninja Update: Guards Stood By and Watched Inmate Escape

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Lorenzo Pollard: A Nunchuck Ninja -- or a guy just smart enough to reason his jailors were idiots?

Turns out Lorenzo Pollard -- the so-called Nunchuck Ninja who escaped from the City Workhouse Friday -- might not need that Hollywood agent after all.

As embarrassed-sounding city officials admitted today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pollard, an inmate at the City Workhouse, did not exactly fend off "more than a dozen" jailors while flashing a set of hand-made nunchucks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-style.

Instead, the man once portrayed as having the powers of a superhero merely "chiseled" through a glass block window, working away for minutes on end -- the P-D suggested optimistically that it was "less than four minutes" -- while a dozen or so guards stood by watching.

We can now see why Mayor Francis Slay's initial reaction Friday to the jailbreak was to declare that the "barest minimum requirement" for the jails is to keep prisoners "inside" them. Apparently that's a novel thought that bears noting these days in St. Louis.

Really, as we initially posited in our blog post yesterday, the story of Pollard's escape has been absurd from the get-go. Somehow, Pollard -- a petty criminal in the slam awaiting trial on charges of theft, trespassing, property damage and (of course) resisting arrest -- managed to fashion a pair of nunchucks out of a bedsheet and the furniture in his cell. (We were initially told it was a chair; today we're told it was made from the metal parts of a desk.)

The ONN (original nunchuck-ninja) Lorenzo Pollard
  • The ONN (original nunchuck-ninja) Lorenzo Pollard

Then he apparently managed to use the crude instrument to evade the jailors leading him to the shower. Then he climbed a wall. And chiseled a hole into it (apparently with the same nunchucks). And propelled himself through the hole. Only then did Pollard somehow climb not one but two fences laden with razors and barbed wire -- and sprint off to (temporary) freedom.

And throughout this whole process, no one was able to catch him?

It made no sense initially, when city officials suggested Pollard "fought off" more than a dozen officers. And it makes no sense now, when those same officials seem to be sheepishly admitting that, OK, so the dozen or so officers merely stood by watching while Pollard went at the jail's glassblock with his nunchucks/chisel.

Now they're claiming Pollard was "in a fit of a rage." Now they're suggesting the guards had no choice but to stand down while he made his elaborate path to freedom. "Sometimes the strategy is to let people's adrenaline come down," Police Capt. Sam Dotson told the P-D.

Pardon our armchair quarterbacking, but that sounds like a really shitty strategy to us. Isn't the whole point of having guards to stop prisoners from painstakingly chiseling man-sized holes into the jailhouse walls? Isn't the whole point of having a dozen or so guards on duty is that, if an inmate starts making a break for it, someone can call for backup, while someone else get on the other side of the damned man-sized hole? And someone else can get out the pepper spray already?

Really, isn't the whole point of jails to, yes, keep inmates confined -- nunchucks or no nunchucks?

Not so incidentally, Alderman Greg Carter is pissed. He's scheduled a hearing. And we guarantee at that point, we won't be the only ones asking these very basic questions.

And somehow, at that point, we imagine that the argument that Lorenzo Pollard has superhuman ninja powers simply isn't going to cut it. A "fit of rage" might not be so great either. What about, simply, "we screwed up"?

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