Documents released show TDCJ failures leading up to inmate escape

Gonzalo Lopez was on the run for weeks after escaping a transport bus, and ultimately killed a family of five
KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:16 PM CST
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CENTERVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Newly released documents show the failures leading up to the escape of Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, back in May.

Lopez was on the run for weeks after escaping a transport bus. He killed a family of five in Centerville and was ultimately killed in a shootout with law enforcement.

An independent review by CGL, a corrections facility expert group, of TDCJ protocol, surveillance footage and facilities, determined what lead up to the escape of Lopez. Multiple failures of TDCJ procedure on the day of the escape along with daily security failures are cited as the reason Lopez was able to escape custody.

According to the report, only 60% of the corrections staff in Lopez’s unit were on duty the day of the escape. In addition, confusing policies and chaos on the transport bus are cited as additional issues taking place.

When Lopez ultimately made it onto the transport bus with what the report calls two metal weapons and what resembles a handcuff key in his mouth, it took him 90 minutes to gain access to corrections staff through a metal door during the trip.

The report states “when serious incidents of this type occur in a correctional setting, it is not a single failure that leads to the incident, but the compilation of multiple failures. That was the case with the Lopez escape.”

Failing to adhere to TDCJ procedures started before Lopez left his cell and continued through his escape.

“The combination of several inadequate strip searches, failure to search property, poorly applied restraints, and failure to use the BOSS (Body Orifice Security Scanner) chair improved Lopez’s odds for a successful escape. The fact is, that if one of these actions was followed in compliance with existing policy, it is likely that the escape would have been thwarted,” the report concludes.

The report also details inmate witness accounts from the bus the day of the escape, saying Lopez gave indications of escaping.

Disciplinary action has been taken against more than 20 staff and supervisors at TDCJ who failed to comply with their policy. A state investigation was also conducted, which includes reports of falsified cell search logs by multiple corrections staff.

KBTX will continue to follow these investigations.

The full CGL report is below: