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MDOC employee reprimand reversed — Officer not liable for Flowers’ non-reporting

A Department of Corrections employee who was disciplined after a suspect went unmonitored by a parole officer and allegedly murdered two Brookhaven police officers was found to be “least responsible” and his reprimand was reversed by the state Employee Appeals Board.

Court records show Marquis Aaron Flowers, 25, was released from the Adams County Jail on May 3, 2018, after posting a $50,000 bond. Flowers should have reported to Lincoln County for supervision at that time but did not.

The court filed a bench warrant for Flowers’ rearrest on Aug. 6, 2018, after he failed to show up at a court appearance.

He is accused of shooting officers James White, 35, and Zach Moak, 31, in September when they responded to a call of “shots fired” in Brookhaven.

The Department of Corrections reprimanded Kennis Montgomery after alleging that he failed to document his attempts to locate Flowers and failed to document that Flowers’ location was unknown. MDOC alleged that Montgomery’s failure meant Flowers “was not supervised to MDOC standards.”

MDOC alleged that Montgomery should have issued a warrant for Flowers’ arrest when he could not be located — prior to the fatal shootings in September.

But the appeals board found that Montgomery was not to blame, rather it was a “systemic failure” that allowed Flowers to remain free. The board found that Montgomery had not been assigned to monitor Flowers, which meant he had no obligation to document his attempts to locate Flowers.

The board found that “the blame rests within his chain of command. His superiors clearly knew this had to be assigned.”

The board also pointed to the fact that Montgomery remained in his same position, even though MDOC had reprimanded him. If his offense constituted negligence, as MDOC alleged, the board asked why he was allowed to continue in his position.

“The answer is simple. MDOC needed to discipline someone,” the board wrote in its findings.

The board also pointed to failures that allowed Flowers to remain free. It stated that three other employees should have either assigned Flowers’ case or should have known he had not been assigned and corrected the issue.

Montgomery contended that the “Parole Board” or “Records” should have notified Lincoln County that Flowers was released from the Adams County jail in May of 2018. At that point he should have been assigned a parole officer, he said. Since he was not, Flowers was not monitored.

Law would have addressed lapse in communication

Legislation that would have addressed the lapse in communication about Flowers died without a vote on the House floor earlier this year. Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, said she would try to get the legislation passed in the next session.

House Bill 871 aimed to codify and set up proper use of a “parole to detainer” process. It also would have excluded felonies and crimes of violence from “technical violations.” Flowers could have been sent back to prison to serve his full sentence if his felony charges would not have been considered “technical violations.”

The bill established the following protocols:

• The booking clerk at the county jail to which the offender was paroled to a detainer shall notify the sheriff’s department in the paroling jurisdiction as well as the offender’s parole officer of the court’s decision. 

• If the offender is able to bond out or the detainer is cleared, the offender shall not be released from custody until the notification is received and acknowledged by the sheriff’s department and the parole officer.

• The sheriff’s department in the jurisdiction which paroled the offender shall temporarily retake physical custody of the offender to ensure that all other conditions of the offender’s parole are satisfied before release.

Officials in Lincoln County said they were unaware Flowers had been released on bond in Adams County. It is unclear why the bill died on the calendar. 

MDOC said it could not comment about Montgomery’s case and could not say if other employees named in the appeals board decision would be disciplined.