Long a source of security concern and public controversy, Santa Barbara’s transport of individuals in custody—while fully garbed in distinctive orange jumpsuits and frequently shackled at the ankles and with wrists cuffed to a thick waist-chain—is almost the “walk of shame” as they’re escorted throughout the day across a very public street in full public view, providing an additional sightseeing adventure to the hundreds of tourists commonly gathered at curbside to ogle the famed Santa Barbara Courthouse architecture.
While these prisoners—none of whom have yet been convicted of anything—are paraded through the public thoroughfare for everyone’s eye-popping amusement, heavy chains connecting each to the other, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies serving as Superior Court bailiffs keep an intimidating and very watchful eye over their charges. Because of their obvious show of armed force, bailiffs bristling with truncheons and riot guns at the ready generally exhibit little concern over the potential for escape.
But on the morning of November 20th, as he was being moved from one secure area to another in the criminal courts complex, Cristian Otey, a 41-year old facing an appearance before a magistrate pursuant to his November 17th arrest on charges of battery against a non-cohabitating spouse as well as warrant issues regarding allegations of willful harm to a child, saw an opportunity to miss his court appointment…and he took it.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, Otey was “handcuffed and secured to a chain with other inmates as they were being unloaded from a sheriff’s bus” when he “managed to escape out of his handcuffs by using a jail-made instrument.”
Once free of his chains, Otey broke away from the deputies, jumped a fence, and sprinted away, stripping off his orange jumpsuit enroute. But with Sheriff’s deputies and the help of a University of California police officer nearby giving chase, Otey was run down just minutes later in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara, and taken back into custody.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking, Facebook.com, Google Maps.