Search continues for escaped prisoner in Detroit; stabbed deputy in good condition

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:02:38 AM EST
Updated On: Sep 09 2013 03:23:15 PM EDT

Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White, was allegedly armed with a knife when he showed up to the courthouse Monday morning, ready to make a move to escape.

DETROIT -

A massive manhunt is under way in Detroit right now for a prisoner who escaped after taking a Wayne County deputy hostage Monday morning at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. 

The deputy involved in the incident is reportedly OK with no serious injuries.

Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White, was allegedly armed with a knife when he showed up to the courthouse Monday morning. Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon told Local 4 that White's weapon may have been plastic -- possibly a comb -- and was not picked up by a metal detector. 

He overpowered a deputy as he was shackled in the courtroom. He stole the deputy's keys and took his uniform. The deputy, Harrison Tolliver, suffered minor cuts and bruises and had several puncture wounds to his neck. He was treated and released from Detroit Receiving Hospital. He is in good condition.

White fled the building wearing the pants of a sheriff deputy's uniform, a white T-shirt and carrying a sheriff's shirt. Witnesses said they immediately knew he was not a Sheriff's deputy and realized something was horribly wrong. He has since changed his clothes -- but there is no word on what he is currently wearing.

Police immediately began searching in and around the building - looking in dumpsters and port-a-potties in the area. His clothes -- an inmate's uniform and the deputy's clothing -- were found stashed underneath an SUV in a nearby parking lot.

Watch: Escaped Detroit prisoner's clothing found under SUV


-- Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White. Pearson is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 125 pounds. Police say he has a twin.


This photo shows White with long hair.

White was supposed to be sentenced on armed robbery and carjacking charges. White spent more than five years in prison for assault during an armed robbery and breaking and entering before being paroled in January 2012, officials said. He was locked up later that winter for a month for failing to report to his parole officer, and absconded again when he was released. In September 2012 he was arrested on carjacking, armed robbery and weapons charges and convicted in a non-jury trial, prison officials said. He was due to be sentenced for those crimes when he escaped. He will now be facing multiple other charges. Those are yet to be announced.

His lawyer, James Howarth, told NBC news he believes White has mental issues and wanted to mount an insanity defense, but two psychiatrists found him competent.

"In my initial conversation with him, he had no knowledge of the incident and talked about hallucinations," Howarth told NBC News. "He appeared not to be in any touch with reality whatsoever."

Howarth said White was offered a plea deal that would have given him the minimum sentence of nine years but turned it down. After being convicted, he was likely facing 15 years.

"I imagine it weighed pretty heavily on his head," Howarth said.

He encouraged his client to surrender.

The building was immediately put on lockdown but reopened just before 11 a.m.

A witness told Local 4 she saw the suspect drive away in a van. 


---Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has a call to action to anybody who may know White or could have spoken to him and know his whereabouts.

Authorities have found the 2000 gray Dodge Caravan van with the license plate BWZ 3916 that White escaped in.

It was recovered at Concord and Lafayette - which is near the entrance of Belle Isle. It was abandoned in a wooded area along that stretch of road. The Wayne County Sheriff's Department did bring in a canine unit to capture the scent of the suspect.

White is described as 5 feet 6 inches, 125 pounds, brown eyes and black hair with dreads. He's should be considered armed and dangerous.


---Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said the guard who was overpowered was bringing three inmates into the courtroom. Napoleon said the 1-to-3 ratio was not an uncommon practice. He said the procedure will be reviewed. Napoleon said his biggest concern was how Derreck White smuggled his comb/weapon into the building.

The Frank Murphy Hall of Justice is on Gratiot Avenue in downtown Detroit.