Prisoner disappears from E. Liverpool hospital

LISBON — A prisoner taken Tuesday to the Columbiana County Jail for repeatedly violating a protection order and later charged with threatening police remained at large after being left unsupervised when transported from there to a local hospital.

Sherman A. Pritt Jr., 40, East Liverpool, disappeared after being discharged from East Liverpool City Hospital Tuesday afternoon without any law enforcement supervision. This was after St. Clair Township police had dropped off Pritt at the county jail earlier in the day following his apprehension on charges of violating a protection order obtained by his ex-girlfriend.

Jail Warden Mike Curley said his booking staff failed to follow policy and contact the county sheriff’s office to have a deputy accompany Pritt’s ambulance to the hospital and remain there until he was discharged.

Sheriff Ray Stone said Pritt was dropped off at the county jail about 2 p.m., and medical staff there determined immediately he needed examined, which is why he was taken to the hospital. He learned after 5 p.m. that Pritt had been released, and local law enforcement have been looking for him ever since.

“We had no idea where he was or that he was even up there (at the jail),” Stone said.

The jail is run by a private company under contract with county commissioners.

Curley said Pritt showed apparent signs of being under the influence of drugs, so the medical staff decided to have him transported immediately to a local hospital to be examined. This occurred before Pritt could be booked into the jail, which normally occurs first.

“But regardless, when a law enforcement officer leaves a prisoner with us it becomes our jurisdiction,” he said.

St. Clair Township police Chief Brian McKenzie said the arrest warrants issued by East Liverpool Municipal Court Judge Melissa Byers-Emmerling require Pritt be held without bond once apprehended.

Last week, Pritt was charged with telecommunication harassment after posting a video on Facebook following a court appearance for the protection order violations. Pritt can be seen saying he was going to “(mess) with St. Clair Township police” and that if one officer in particular showed up at his used car business, he was going to crush his patrol car. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

As a precaution, all main entrances at East Liverpool City Hall were closed Wednesday, with the public directed to enter through the handicapped entrance, where an officer stood guard.

“We’re probably going to do that until (Pritt) is apprehended because of the threats he made to police,” said East Liverpool police Chief John Lane. “He’s threatened everybody.”

After learning of what happened at the jail, McKenzie and Stone met with Curley on Wednesday morning. McKenzie said Curley took full responsibility, which he appreciated.

“The first words out of his mouth were, ‘I take ownership of this. It was our mistake,'” McKenzie said.