Murder suspect mistakenly released from Rikers Island apprehended

RIKERS ISLAND, New York City (WABC) -- A murder suspect mistakenly released from Rikers Island last month has been rearrested.

Christopher Buggs, 26, had been awaiting trial for a 2018 murder when he was prematurely released in early March, the first of three such incidents involving mistaken releases.

He was taken into custody at White Plains Road and 221st Street in the Bronx Friday afternoon, but further details were not released.

"(Department of Correction) Commissioner (Cynthia) Brann announced today that after an intensive manhunt, DOC's Corrections Intelligence Bureau and the US Marshall's Regional Fugitive Task Force apprehended accused murderer Christopher Buggs, who had been erroneously discharged from custody last month," Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said. "We hope that Mr. Buggs' swift return to Rikers Island provides some comfort to the victim's family."

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In the other two incidents, Nakim Meekins surrendered and James Reino was allowed to stay out of jail due to a COVID-19 diagnosis pending a future court date.

Four Department of Correction employees were suspended in Buggs' case, while the others are believed to have been a result of paperwork errors unrelated to the DOC.

Buggs had been sentenced to 30 days of time served for an unrelated criminal contempt case, but that sentence was mistakenly listed as the final disposition of his murder case on his paperwork.

As a result, Rikers Island staff released him.

Buggs is awaiting trial for the murder of 55-year-old Ernest Brownlee outside a Brooklyn bodega three years ago.

Brownlee was apparently a career criminal who killed two men in the 1980s.

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