Law enforcement officials across three Massachusetts counties are trying to block the release of a man who allegedly grabbed a gun and shot a Middlesex deputy sheriff guarding him at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in 2013, as the man allegedly tried to flee custody.
Lawyers for Raymond Wallace, 42, who was charged with armed robbery, say he has tested positive for COVID-19 and that medical issues stemming from gunshot wounds he suffered in the alleged escape attempt and in a 2001 incident when he was shot by Waltham police have left Wallace incapable of harming others.
They argue he should be freed for his safety, and this week a Suffolk Superior Court judge agreed.
But prosecutors in Suffolk and Essex counties are trying to block Wallace’s release, and the Essex and Middlesex sheriffs say he remains a threat to public safety.
"The fact that he attempted to escape in 2013 by grabbing a correctional officer’s gun, shooting a correctional officer, and then getting shot himself, shows his intent to flee the criminal justice system,” Essex Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger said, adding that it’s “simply outrageous” that such a man could be released.
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said Wallace has “one of the lengthiest, most dangerous criminal histories I’ve seen” in his nine years on the job.
“This is releasing someone that is a public safety threat — clearly — and is also positive for COVID-19,” he said, adding later, “Front-line health care workers have enough to worry about with coronavirus. They shouldn’t have to worry about Raymond Wallace.”
On Tuesday, Judge Beverly Cannone revoked Wallace’s $1 million bail for the 2013 incident — in which he allegedly attacked two deputy sheriffs, shooting one in the leg with his own gun — and ordered Wallace released on his personal recognizance after a 14-day quarantine for the virus, according to a copy of the release order.
In a handwritten note on the document, Cannone wrote that her ruling relied “heavily” on Wallace’s medical records and on a 2016 ruling by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders that Wallace was medically unfit to stand trial because of his injuries.
Based on Wallace’s medical condition, Cannone wrote, “Case not likely to ever be tried.”
Suffolk prosecutors “vehemently opposed” the bail reduction based on Wallace’s earlier alleged escape attempt, and have filed an emergency petition with the state’s highest court seeking to block his release, according to statements from District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
Rollins has endorsed the release the release of some nonviolent prisoners and pretrial detainees but has sought to block the release of those she deems dangerous.
“The material risk he poses to public safety far outweighs any claim he is making about his personal health concerns,” Rollins said in a statement Friday.
David J. Grimaldi, a defense attorney for Wallace, said he is trying to get his client released to a rehabilitation facility that would be able to provide better care for Wallace’s chronic medical issues and his coronavirus infection. Grimaldi said Wallace’s injuries have left him debilitated.
“He’s had multiple surgeries and complications from his surgeries,” Grimaldi said. “He’s had half of his pancreas and stomach removed. He’s had a portion of his diaphragm removed. He’s had to have multiple surgeries to repair bleeding in his gastrointestinal area.”
Grimaldi has petitioned a single justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court to allow Wallace’s immediate release, rather than requiring him to wait out a 14-day quarantine.
Meanwhile, Raymond Buso, a defense attorney who represents Wallace in Essex County, has asked a judge there to order Wallace released on armed robbery charges.
Essex prosecutors opposed his release in a court filing Thursday, noting that Wallace had been indicted for armed robberies in Peabody and Salem and calling him “a career criminal who poses a danger to the entire community.”
Buso acknowledged that Wallace had been a dangerous man in the past.
“Nine years ago, he was a bad guy,” Buso said, referring to an alleged 2011 armed robbery in Salem that prosecutors cited. “He is alleged to have committed two armed robberies while masked, torched a car, put the people who were at the store closing down in real concerning circumstances. But that was nine years ago.”