ST. PAUL (WCCO) — “I’m not going back to prison,” the man who allegedly tried to grab a deputy’s gun at Regions Hospital Thursday afternoon said a week earlier when he was spotted by officers in St. Paul, according to new criminal charges.
Earl Bennett, of St. Louis, Missouri, was charged with four criminal counts on Friday, including attempted escape from custody, fourth-degree assault, disarming a police officer, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person.
According to police, Bennett was wanted for violating parole on a 2012 armed robbery conviction in Missouri. Police stopped his vehicle in St. Paul for driving after dark without headlights on. He fled the scene, the complaint says, and disappeared on foot.
He was apprehended by officers some time later and taken to Regions Hospital after he complained his back was hurt from falling off the top bunk in his jail cell.
The complaint says doctors determined there was nothing wrong with his back. He then requested to go to the bathroom, said he felt faint and collapsed.
While a deputy was guarding him in a hospital, Bennett said he had a headache. The deputy tried to push the medical call button, and Bennett allegedly punched the deputy in the face before making an attempt to grab the deputy’s firearm, even though his leg was shackled to the hospital bed.
Another deputy came and grabbed Bennett from behind in a bear hug. The first deputy, believing his firearm had been taken in the struggle, yelled “He’s got my gun!” A physician triggered a “code silver” lockdown.
Later, it was discovered that the gun was still in the deputy’s holster, but a magazine had been ejected.
No one else at the hospital aside from the deputy who was punched sustained any injuries, though the charges state that many patients in the ER area were emotionally shaken.