An inmate being returned to Wisconsin to face drug charges escaped a transportation officer at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday after the officer turned away to get the inmate some food, authorities said.
Tyler James Martinez, 31, was being extradited from Los Angeles to Wisconsin's Brown County Jail when he escaped an employee of REDI Transports, a contracted service for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.
Martinez escaped the REDI Transports employee around 1:10 p.m. while he was in the concourse at O'Hare awaiting a connecting flight to Wisconsin's Appleton International Airport, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
Martinez had a number of extraditable Brown County arrest warrants, which included bail jumping, possession of cocaine, methamphetamine, narcotic drugs, a stolen car, failure to appear in court, and criminal damage to property, the sheriff's office said.
Martinez was also wanted for questioning regarding multiple burglaries, FOX 32 Chicago reported.
REDI Transports had been told to get Martinez from the Los Angeles County Jail – where he was previously arrested -- and bring him to the Brown County Jail. The officer and Martinez flew from Los Angeles to Chicago and were awaiting the connecting flight.
A manhunt is underway for Martinez, who fled while the employee was purchasing the inmate some food, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Following the escape, a Chicago police review of surveillance footage at the airport determined that Martinez freed at least one of his cuffed hands before leaving the terminal. He was last seen boarding a car rental shuttle bus, according to the footage.
Martinez was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, gray or black sweatpants, and dark tennis shoes with no lace, authorities said.
After the incident, the sheriff's office suspended the use of REDI Transports for nationwide extraditions, pending the results of an investigation. REDI Transports, formerly Wisconsin Lock and Load, has transported prisoners on behalf of Brown County since 2007.
The county doesn't pay the contractor until the inmate is delivered to the jail, according to the Press-Gazette.