4 deputies under investigation for Denver inmate’s daring bus escape

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DENVER (KDVR) — It may be the most daring escape a Denver inmate has ever tried, clinging while handcuffed to the underside of a bus.

Damian Lynch’s wild ride occurred on the morning of Sept. 2 but details of his attempt have never been reported until now.

Freedom for the 24-year-old would be short-lived but the audacious nature of what he tried to pull off has given him quite the reputation in the Denver jail.

“They’re (fellow inmates) calling me Houdini, James Bond, Ocean’s 11; there have been a couple of nicknames,” Lynch said in an exclusive interview with investigative reporter Rob Low at the downtown detention center. 

Lynch’s near escape began as he was about to be loaded onto a bus that would transfer 23 inmates from the downtown detention center at 450 W. Colfax Avenue to the County Jail at 10500 E. Smith Road in Denver.

As inmates lined up to board the bus in the secure sally port of the detention center, Lynch dropped a bag of clothes on his feet, to hide the fact that deputies had yet to put leg irons on his feet. Then he shuffled towards the bus and when deputies turned their head, simply dropped to the ground and rolled under the inmate transfer bus.

“I belly flopped onto the ground and slid underneath the bus,” Lynch said.

As the bus drove off, Lynch was able to hang on even though he was still in handcuffs.

Pointing to burn scabs on his arm, Lynch told the Problem Solvers, “I got that from holding onto the transmission, whenever the transmission was spinning, it was spinning against my skin actually burning my skin off as I was holding it.”

When the bus stopped at a red light, Lynch was able to change positions underneath the bus, “Once we stopped at the light, I let go and then I ran to where the spare tire is welded underneath and that’s where I was at for probably a mile or two.”

As the bus rolled north on Speer Boulevard, Lynch saw the Cherry Creek bike path and just before Blake Street, he rolled out from underneath the bus and ran towards the creek.  His plan was to float down the creek to the Platte River and then keep floating down the waterway to the skate park at 20th and Little Raven Street. Lynch is a former skate boarder and said he was convinced friends at the skate park would hide him and help cut of his handcuffs with a bolt cutter and a wheel grinder.

But he never made it because the water level was too low, “When I got to the river, it was only about ankle deep, knee high in some spots. My plan of floating downstream to the skate park was not going to work.”

At the same time, Lynch could hear deputies yelling after him. It turns out a sheriff van transporting the inmates personal possessions had been following the transfer bus and the driver saw Lynch roll out from underneath the bus and run towards Cherry Creek.

Members of the Denver Sheriff Department’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were immediately notified to chase Lynch down.

That’s when Lynch saw a sewer tunnel and decided to run into it.

“I thought to myself as I looked behind me, as the police were chasing me, I’m going to have to lose them through there,” Lynch said.

He said he had navigated Denver’s underground drainage tunnels before and was convinced he could find his way to the skate park but quickly discovered the water was waist deep in some spots.

“I couldn’t make it no further, otherwise I was going to drown,” Lynch said.

At that point, he decided to turn around and surrender to deputies who had chased after him.

“One of them hit me in the head with his baton and split my head open,” Lynch said, who added deputies tased him even though he was in handcuffs and was surrendering.

“At that point I was just in pain. I couldn’t see, my face was all bloody because of it.”

Lynch was briefly taken to Denver Health Medical Center before being brought back to the jail and rebooked on a new count of attempted escape.

When asked how good the freedom tasted for the brief time he had it, Lynch responded, “I don’t think there’s even words to describe what it tastes like. The best thing I ever had in my life.” Now Lynch is kept in what inmates call The Hole, isolated 23 hours a day.

“I don’t regret anything trying to make it home to my children,” Lynch said. Reporter Rob Low asked, “You’d try it again?” Lynch responded, “Yeah, this time I would make it.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Safety told FOX31, four Denver deputies are now under investigation for possible security lapses. 

Investigative reporter Rob Low asked Lynch, “How sloppy that nobody put leg irons on you, nobody does a head count on the bus and nobody sees you roll under the bus?” Lynch replied, “Actually, funny enough I heard them say that they were off on the count when I was underneath the bus and I heard another sheriff deputy say ‘We’ll figure it out, that’s what we do.’”

Lynch was originally booked with attempted murder for a shooting that left one man injured outside a Denver strip club on July 8.

The arrest affidavit for the attempted murder incident says Lynch asked to borrow a lighter from another patron at PT’s Show Club and when he walked off with it, the patron demanded it back and an argument ensued. According to the affidavit, the patron and his friends encountered Lynch with a female outside when Lynch raised a gun and shot towards them approximately five times. The patron was struck in the leg and taken to the hospital.

Lynch admits to FOX31, he was at the club but denies even owning a gun, let alone shooting anyone. 

Lynch said he may not look like a family man with his facial tattoo but insisted he just wanted to be reunited with his wife and three small children.  

He said he hoped to make it to Mexico and be reunited with his wife and children but now says he may take a plea deal if prosecutors offer to combine the attempted murder and escape charge into one concurrent sentence, where he wouldn’t face extra time in prison for the escape count.

“As somebody who’s in jail falsely accused of something, you automatically fantasize about escaping. Everyone does but when I saw the  opportunity, I definitely took it,” Lynch said.

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