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Pierce Co. inmate who fled during furlough has history of escaping custody

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LACEY, Wash. -- Police say a man temporarily released from Pierce County custody for a few hours took that opportunity to run away and led law enforcement on a multi-day long search.

The search ended with property damage in a quiet Lacey neighborhood.

Kurtus Phillips rammed into a car speeding through the narrow streets of a Lacey neighborhood. Colleen Herr watched from her front yard as everything unfolded a few feet away from her.

"He could have come up on the sidewalk and our kids were playing," she said.

Officials captured Phillips shortly after the crash. He had been on the run for nearly a week, and had been locked up for a violent crime. Documents say he pleaded guilty to a drive-by shooting.

Herr says it's terrifying for her and her family.

"We knew we wanted to live here because it was safe."

Pierce County court records show that a judge granted Phillips an 8-hour release on July 25 to see his grandmother after his grandfather had recently died.  However, documents show Phillips removed the ankle bracelet and never returned to jail.

"It's just crazy to me, it's just crazy," Herr said.

Documents show Phillips also has a history of running away. From September 2017 to January 2018, records show Phillips escaped from custody four separate times.

Q13 News reached out to the Superior Court of Pierce County to see if the judge considered these factors when approving Phillips' release. Officials said they cannot comment on pending cases.

"I can't believe they would let someone out that is such a liability and risk, and they would not have someone constantly with him," Herr said.

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