Brief taste of freedom ends with loud clang of cell door

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

One inmate of the Butler County Jail attempted to taste freedom, but after a brief chase was placed behind the loud clang of newer iron doors.

Clifford Dewayne Bonner, 33, of Jazz Road, Greenville, after assaulting three jailers last week, escaped from his confined surroundings in a stolen vehicle. Following a chase, Bonner was back in custody and now faces six new felony charges.

Reports on file with the Greenville Police Department indicate that at approximately 10:10 p.m. on Monday, July 22, Bonner attacked three correctional officers of the Butler County Sheriff’s Department.

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Reports indicate that Bonner attacked Willie Edward Hall while the officer was completing the final lockdown of the night. Bonner allegedly forced Hall to the floor, where he grabbed his keys from his belt. Reports continue to say that Bonner ran down the stairs and shoved a second officer, Patricia Ann Davison, into a wall, and entered the jail office, where he struck Officer Sharon Relaska Smith with the iron door of the jail’s main entrance, and made it outside.

With Hall’s keys, Bonner was able to make it to Hall’s 1993 Mercury 4-door, with which he left the area.

Greenville officers, summoned by the jail, gave chase. During this chase, Bonner was involved in a collision, and was immediately apprehended and taken back into custody. He has since been transferred to the Lowndes County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bond.

Bonner has been charged with robbery, third degree for the fact that he stole Hall’s vehicle by using force, and for three counts of felony assault.

"The law provides that anytime a person assaults a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, firefighter or school system employee, they have committed a felony offense," said Sheriff Diane Harris.

For his brief taste of freedom, Bonner has also been charged with escape, first degree.

"I am glad to say that our three jailers, although they had to receive medical attention, are back on the job," Harris said. "I am also glad that no one n jailers or prisoners n was seriously injured."

Harris indicated that Bonner was in jail for a probation violation.

"Due to the nature of Bonner’s crimes, combined with his prior history felony crime convictions, I am going to push for more serious sentencing, under the habitual offender statutes of the Alabama Criminal Code," Harris said. "I certainly appreciate the assistance of the Greenville Police Department in quickly apprehending this criminal, and am proud of the way in which our agencies can cooperate for the better good of our citizens."