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Suspect escapes Mesa police custody while being booked in handcuffs

Mesa Police Department
Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 22:03:17-04

MESA, AZ — Mesa police are on the lookout for a man who escaped their custody Saturday afternoon. He was wearing handcuffs and being booked into the department's detention facility, beneath headquarters.

As of Tuesday afternoon the suspect, 25-year-old Anthony Rosales, is still on the run.

A spokesperson for Mesa police said Rosales was arrested for shoplifting, and also had drug warrants.

He was being booked into Mesa's basement jail when the arresting officer left Rosales in a caged holding area and went to get paperwork from his car.

Mesa police tell ABC15 the officer was gone for "one minute" but during that time other officers and firefighters were going in and out of the area for a medical issue.

Surveillance video reportedly revealed the suspect slipped his handcuffs to the front, slipped out of a closing gate, and dashed towards freedom as a fugitive.

"It’s not good that he was able to escape, especially in handcuffs," said one community member named Toby. "And nobody knows about it from the police department."

Mesa police have the ability to electronically notify the surrounding area and even pinpoint a specific two-mile radius.

The department chose not to, in this case, citing the suspect's misdemeanor crimes, and comparing it to an unhandcuffed shoplifting or drug suspect running from them in a store, which they noted happens all the time.

"If we felt we had a dangerous felon on the run, who was a threat, we would have used every resource and notified the community," said Mesa Public Information Officer, Det. Steve Berry.

"We have people run from us all the time. We have to determine when we're going to disseminate. If we just had a person jump out of a car we wouldn't notify the whole community," Det. Berry continued.

Andre Miller, Pastor with New Beginnings Christian Church, said he suspects the lack of notification was more about the department saving face.

"Well I think it is an embarrassment," said Miller. "You would think that they would want the community to partner with them to help prevent crimes and solve crimes."

More than 72 hours after the escape, Rosales has not been found or arrested. When he is, the 25-year-old will be facing another charge of "escaping police custody."

No description of Rosales was provided, but police did say he does not have a listed address and is considered a transient.