Medina police chief blames MetroHealth Medical Center for letting sex offender escape

Posted at 11:22 AM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 08:57:59-04

The Medina police chief is blaming MetroHealth Medical Center for letting a fugitive and a known sex offender escape from their hospital.

Brooks Howard, 33, walked out of the hospital Sunday afternoon, the day after he jumped from a building and was chased down by officers, according to the Medina Police Department.

On Saturday, officers served a warrant on Howard for violating the terms of his bond, according to Chief Patrick Berarducci.

Howard is facing charges of gross sexual imposition and importuning in Medina County. He is also a registered sex offender in Wayne County.

During the weekend police encounter, Howard fled and eventually jumped from the third floor of a building in downtown Medina. After a brief foot pursuit, captured on police body camera, Howard was captured a few blocks away.

He suffered a collapsed lung and broken femur and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment, according to police. A Medina police officer broke a finger while handcuffing the suspect.

Sometime on Sunday, Howard left the hospital.

Chief Berarducci said the hospital was notified that Howard was under arrest and that MetroHealth police agreed to watch him.

“If Metro hospital police aren’t up to doing the job, then they need to say so," said Chief Berarducci. "I'm more than a little angry and I'm using my old age to keep it under check. This guy, as far as I'm concerned, is a danger. He always has been a danger."

MetroHealth Medical Center strongly disputed the chief's claims on Tuesday afternoon. In a statement a spokesperson for the hospital said:

We have no record or information that the Medina Police ever asked us to watch over this prisoner. If you were to listen to audiotape of the call our dispatcher received from the Medina Police regarding this case, you can hear that for yourself. We can't send you this tape because it contains patient information, but we can send a transcript with the patient information redacted. As you'll see, the Medina officer who called MetroHealth, Sergeant Simpson, never asked our police department to watch over the prisoner.

What's more, Medina Police never told us they were concerned about this patient until they made that call -- the day after he was brought to MetroHealth.

As Rita mentioned, it's standard practice for Cleveland Police and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's deputies to come to MetroHealth and stand outside the hospital rooms of people in their jurisdiction who've been arrested. 

On Tuesday, Howard was arrested again, this time by the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at a house on the west side of Cleveland.

"The U.S. Marshals are the absolute best in the world at tracking down fugitives," said Chief Berarducci.

Howard was returned to MetroHealth Medical Center for treatment. 

This time, Chief Berarducci said he will send a detective to sit with Howard for the remainder of his stay. 

A spokesperson for MetroHealth stressed policies and procedures were followed in the case involving Howard.