Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Officials Arrest Inmate Who Was Released in Error

Undercover investigators with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office on Thursday arrested an inmate who was mistakenly released from the Elmwood Correctional Facility one week ago due to a clerical error.

Identified as David Lopez, the suspect was taken into custody in San Jose after a manhunt, and has been booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail, according to a statement issued by the sheriff's office.

San Jose police officers on Oct. 4, 2015 booked Lopez into jail. While behind bars, he had two cases pending in the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

The first stemmed from allegations that Lopez had stolen a vehicle and was being investigated by the San Jose Police Department. The second was a robbery case and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office was the lead agency, the statement said.

Lopez appeared in court for both crimes on Sept. 28, 2017 and received sentences for each. 

For the Sept. 11, 2015 grand theft, Lopez was credited with time served, while he was handed an 8-year sentence for the Aug. 31, 2015 armed robbery, the statement said. 

But paperwork that was submitted to the Department of Correction's administrative booking office was processed incorrectly by records personnel.

The stolen vehicle case was processed before the robbery, so Lopez was credited for the time he had already spent in jail. He was released from custody around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 28.

“Any time something like this happens, it is a concern," said Sgt. Reginald Cooks with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. "We don’t take matters like this lightly."

It wasn't until 6:50 a.m. on Oct. 4, however, that a records technician discovered the mistake. 

"This entire event is unacceptable and alarming to us at the Sheriff’s Office," said Chief of Correction and Undersheriff Carl Neusel. "We are thankful we were able to bring Lopez back into custody quickly upon the discovery of our error."

Sheriff's investigators began to search for Lopez in an effort to take the convict, who was considered armed and dangerous, back into custody. They tracked Lopez's social media activities over the past week to find him.

On Thursday, golfers were enjoying themselves at Rancho del Pueblo Golf Course at 1649 Hermocilla Way when they heard commotion.

"All of a sudden, six to seven undercover cops just ran in (to a shop) and grabbed him," said witness Ray Taculog.

Golfer Bob Gonzalez took a photograph of Lopez as he was being re-arrested.

"He complied and they handcuffed him and put him in the van over here," he said.

Now, officials of a county jail system that has been mired in one controversy after another are having to explain how a dangerous criminal was accidentally set free.

"We are reviewing our checks and balances to incorporate added security measures in our court docket review processes," Neusel said. 

Bob Gonzalez
Golfer Bob Gonzalez took this picture of armed robbery convict David Lopez being recaptured after a clerical error prompted his accidental release from jail.
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