Lewis County judge chases down pair of escaped inmates
A Lewis County Judge ditched his robe and chased after two inmates who tried to escape his courtroom in Chehalis.
Judge R.W. Buzzard was presiding over an entirely different case last week, when two handcuffed inmates burst through the left side of the courtroom and took off down the aisle.
Surveillance footage obtained by the Daily Chronicle shows the judge tearing off his black robe and running after them through the room, across the hall, and down three flights of stairs.
Judge Buzzard managed to grab one of them by the collar just as the fugitive reached a door. The other man was scooped up by law enforcement a few blocks away from the courthouse.
“In the moment, I just knew they needed to be caught or watched because what they were doing was unacceptable,” Buzzard told KIRO Radio.
It’s unclear what the two men were in custody for, but Lewis County prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told KIRO Nights’ Gee Scott that they weren’t originally being held on felony charges.
That changed the second they made a break for freedom; they now face felony escape charges that come with a maximum sentence of five years.
“They made a bad situation much, much worse,” Meyer said.
Buzzard was not injured in the altercation, although Meyer did note that one of the inmates lost his balance while running handcuffed and fell on his face.
This isn’t the first time Judge Buzzard has had to physically intervene in a situation.
“Not too long ago, the same judge was presiding over a civil case when one of the litigants started assaulting the other litigant, and the judge actually came off the bench and tackled the guy who was assaulting him,” Meyer described.
“I like to think that I do what’s appropriate and right,” Buzzard said.