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Manhunt Underway For Inmate Who Escaped, Fled In Stolen Ambulance

Jefferson County, AL – A manhunt is underway for a Jefferson County jail inmate who escaped the custody of a sheriff’s deputy and stole an ambulance while being transported to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) said the incident occurred at approximately 4 p.m. on June 22, The Birmingham News reported.

When the JCSO deputy and the inmate, 45-year-old Phillip Shane Bradford, arrived at UAB Hospital, the suspect managed to escape the deputy and jumped into an unoccupied ambulance parked nearby, according to WBMA.

Video footage of the escape showed a shackled Bradford shoving the deputy and making his way over to the ambulance, WBMA reported.

When the deputy tried to open the ambulance door to subdue the suspect, Bradford bumped him with the ambulance and sped away, according to the news outlet.

Investigators later located the ambulance abandoned in the Robinwood area, WBMA reported.

Police from multiple agencies swarmed the neighborhood and blocked off intersections near the Pinson Valley Parkway beginning at approximately 5 p.m.

A police helicopter searched for the escaped inmate from above as law enforcement officers and K9s scoured the area on foot, The Birmingham News reported.

Investigators said Bradford turned up at a Walmart store on Olive Street in Cullman at approximately 8:30 a.m. the following day, according to WBMA.

An unidentified woman was with him.

The duo stole a silver 2004 GMC Envoy parked in the lot and sped away, according to police.

The SUV has a red scuba diving sticker on the back window, WBMA reported.

Bradford had been in jail since Jan. 29 on charges of third-degree escape, first-degree armed robbery, possession of drug paraphernalia, and obstruction of governmental operations, according to the news outlet.

He was also being held on nine probation violations and a failure to appear charge.

JCSO said it was investigating the incident and had concerns “as to whether the deputy properly handled the inmate during transportation,” AL.com reported.

“In an effort to get information regarding the identification of the inmate to the public in a timely manner, it was initially thought that the inmate had ‘overpowered’ the deputy during the transport,” the sheriff’s said in a statement released Friday. “We have been focusing on locating this subject and bringing him back into custody, however, we are also investigating how this inmate was able to escape.”

JCSO said it would probe whether the deputy followed proper policies and procedures, AL.com reported.

“We have received video that appears to show activity that is not consistent with the training provided to our personnel,” the statement continued. “An in-depth investigation into all aspects of this escape is being conducted and appropriate action will be taken upon the conclusion.”

Bradford remained on the lam as of Sunday afternoon.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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