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Cover up? DeSoto County DA says video evidence of inmate’s escape was stolen

Joshua Zimmerman
Joshua Zimmerman (Photo courtesy of the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office)

DeSoto County District Attorney Matthew Barton is alleging there is a conspiracy to cover up information surrounding the escape of an inmate.

Police are still searching for Joshua James Zimmerman, 31, who escaped the custody of law enforcement at the county courthouse on the morning of Friday, June 14 ahead of a scheduled hearing. Zimmerman is charged with multiple felonies, including attempted murder, out of Southaven. He also faces charges in Houston, Texas where he was allegedly involved in the shooting death of a woman.

On Thursday, Barton informed the press that video evidence of the inmate escaping the courthouse was stolen from his office the exact day it had been delivered. Officials said the video had been deleted from the office’s server and authorities believe to know who the culprit was, though a name has not been released at this time.

Joshua Zimmerman
Joshua Zimmerman
(Photo courtesy of the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office)

It is reported that an individual had ordered the county’s information technology department to wipe the video. Nonetheless, the DA was able to observe the footage from civilians not linked to law enforcement who had obtained the clip.

Moving forward with the investigation into Zimmerman’s escape, a grand jury will investigate the courthouse and those associated with handling state evidence. The DA did not confirm whether or not a county employee assisted the inmate, but reiterated that anyone caught aiding the fugitive will be charged with a felony.

DeSoto County Sheriff Thomas Tuggle said the inmate found a way to escape by exploiting a flaw in the courthouse’s design. According to the sheriff, Zimmerman walked across the street and asked a stranger en route to Memphis, Tenn. to give him a ride. The inmate, still in his pajamas and shower shoes, told the driver that he had just been in an altercation with his wife and needed to get out of town.

U.S. Marshals are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Zimmerman’s arrest. The fugitive is considered to be armed and dangerous and is suspected to have shaved his beard after skipping town. Anyone who comes in contact with him is urged to contact law enforcement immediately.

Tuggle vows that Zimmerman will be captured by law enforcement, though no information regarding his potential whereabouts has been made public.

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