Sheriff: Escaped prisoner was still in handcuffs when caught near Martin County Government Center

Escaped prisoner caught near Martin County Government Center
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 12:31 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 2:41 PM EST
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WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WITN) - A man who escaped from Martin County deputies was caught near the Government Center.

Brian Powell was in custody for outstanding warrants for trafficking in opium. Deputies say around 9:45 a.m., as the Williamston man was being moved from the courtroom area to the magistrate’s office, he was able to escape and run from the Government Center.

Martin County Sheriff Tim Manning said the search for Powell began immediately after he fled. He also said officers scoured the area of Main Street and Moratoc Park, where they confirmed 35-year-old Powell was last seen running.

“We had a heavy law enforcement presence there,” Manning said. “We were not going to leave until we located him and that’s what we did. It was the help of the community that we were able to find him.”

Around 1:40 p.m. the escapee was found under the stairs of an abandoned business off Main Street by Williamston police officers and deputy sheriffs, still in handcuffs.

The escape had some questioning safety; however, Manning said they’re always committed to protecting the people at all costs.

“We handcuff people, we put shackles on the inmates that come in from the jail so that’s a deterrent from anyone trying to run away,” Manning said. “In this case right here, we were just bringing him down to serve a warrant and he just decided he wasn’t going to go.”

Longtime resident Solliah Bryant agreed with Manning because she said situations like the escape of Powell don’t have often.

“From time-to-time things happen,” Bryant said. “Trust me it’s not an everyday occurrence, especially not here. That was just a mishap for Williamston because they’re definitely on top of their game.”

In addition to the original trafficking in opium charge, Powell was also charged with misdemeanor escape. He’s being held on a $2.6 million secured bond and a January 12th court date.