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VIDEO: Inmate Escapes Transport Van, Makes Wild Getaway

Tyler, TX – A bystander in Tyler saw an inmate escaping from a prison transport van on Tuesday and filmed the handcuffed man’s flight on foot with law enforcement not far behind him (video below).

The incident occurred on Jan. 3 when Smith County Jail inmate Timothy Chappelle kicked out the window of a transport van as it was stopped at a red light in Tyler, MySA reported.

“When the deputy stopped at the red light, the inmate kicked out the security portion of the window as well as the window, and jumped out the window, and ran,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told KLTV at a media briefing after the incident.

Bystanders filmed cell phone video of Chappelle, clad in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands secured in front of him, running through a parking lot, past businesses, and ultimately jumping a fence as he fled on foot from Smith County sheriff’s deputies.

It appeared in the video that the deputy gave up his pursuit after the inmate jumped the fence.

Videos of the wild escape were posted to social media and quickly went viral.

A TikTok user who saw the escape spotted the inmate cutting through a neighborhood and talked to him, MySA reported.

TikTok user “chadroo76” followed Chappelle in his truck and tried to get him to give up.

He said he yelled that he would eventually get caught by the police, MySA reported.

“I know man. Give me a ride,” the man said Chappelle replied.

“Hell no!” the driver of the truck yelled back in the video, MySA reported.

Video captured the suspect running between two homes as he attempted to flee law enforcement, KLTV reported.

Police said he broke into two different homes while trying to escape, and one of those residences was occupied.

No one was injured during those break-ins, according to officials.

The suspect was ultimately captured and arrested by police, MySA reported.

Chappelle has been charged with felony criminal mischief charges as well as escaping and two charges of burglary of habitation in connection with the escape attempt, KLTV reported.

“Remainder of his time at Smith County will be in a lockdown cell,” Sheriff Smith told reporters.

Sheriff Smith said his department was launching an investigation into how the inmate was able to escape from the transport van, KLTV reported.

“And as for the van Chappelle broke out of, it was a poor upfitting of our van,” the sheriff explained. “Supposedly it was upfitted to be a security van and the screws stripped out when he kicked it. We’re going to be retrofitting that with bars.”

He said that Chappelle had never previously shown signs that he was a problem inmate who would do something like this, KLTV reported.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below:

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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