A nationwide manhunt is underway after an Ohio man indicted on a rape charge overpowered a sheriff’s deputy in a transport van on Friday following a trip from a psychiatric hospital, officials said.
Police released CCTV images of 32-year-old Branden Lee Powell of Antwerp, Ohio captured prior to his transport from the psychiatric facility in Toledo around noon Friday. The images show the bearded white man walking with his wrists cuffed.
But the cuffs did not hold Powell for long, officials said.
Powell — who was restrained in the van in leg shackles and in handcuffs secured to a belly belt at the time of his escape — jumped over a seat and put a deputy in a headlock, causing the van to crash into a ditch, Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers said in a press release.
Powell then obtained the sheriff’s deputy’s gun, according to Landers. He then ordered the deputy at gunpoint to remove his restraints, handcuffed the deputy to the steering wheel, disabled the vehicle’s police radio and engine, and fled with the deputy’s wallet, mobile phone, gun and ammunition, The Associated Press reports.
No barriers separated the front and back of the van, Landers told the AP. He added that the officer was only minorly injured.
The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office subsequently warned residents through a social media post about escape.
“Branden Powell, 32, escaped custody this afternoon northeast of Paulding. If you see him, please call 911 and report his location,” the statement read. “He was wearing blue jeans, a dingy white and brown t-shirt, a brown sweatshirt, and wearing white tennis shoes. He is approximately 6 feet tall and 155 pounds. Do not approach this subject. He is considered dangerous.”
Powell was jailed July 8 and subsequently indicted on a rape charge, according to the Paulding County Sheriff’s office, which notes that he slit his throat in a suicide attempt and underwent surgery at a hospital while in custody.
On July 13, Powell was sent to Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital, according to the sheriff’s office. Doctors there “obviously concluded…