Pasadena, TX – The Pasadena police chief has publicly admonished a criminal court judge for repeatedly releasing an accused armed robber from jail with nothing more than the suspect’s signature as a promise to show up at his court hearing.
The Pasadena Police Department has also released dashcam footage showing the armed suspect as he turned to aim his gun at a pursuing officer just before the officer struck him with a patrol car (video below).
Ja’Kouri Jones, 18, has carried out five armed robberies at pharmacies in the area, fired a gun at a witness and the witness’s children, and led officers on a pursuit as he ran with a bag of cash in one hand and a firearm in the other, Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said in a video release on Tuesday.
“Today, I learned that Ja’Kouri Jones was released from jail on a PR, or personal bond,” Chief Bruegger explained. “What this means is that the defendant was allowed to leave jail, and guaranteed his promise to appear, by just his signature.”
“Obviously, I’m very disappointed with this outcome,” Chief Bruegger said. “Mr. Jones terrorized our city by pointing a gun at store clerks…[and] shot at a witness and his children.”
Police originally arrested Jones on Jan. 6, just two days after he allegedly committed two armed robberies in Pasadena.
One of those robberies occurred at a Walgreen’s store, where Jones allegedly fired eight rounds at a man and his children when they tried to follow him, KPRC reported.
He was charged for unlawfully carrying a handgun, but he was let out of jail on a “PR bond,” the chief said.
While out of jail on the initial offense, Jones went on to carry out two more aggravated armed robberies on Jan. 13, Chief Bruegger said.
After he held up the first store, Pasadena police immediately surrounded other pharmacies in the area in the event Jones struck twice in the same night, as he had before, KPRC reported.
As they predicted, Jones soon emerged from a CVS store carrying a bag of cash and a handgun, dashcam footage showed.
The armed suspect took off on foot, so the officer began pursuing him with his patrol vehicle.
But when Jones turned towards the officer to aim his gun at him, the officer accelerated, and struck the fleeing suspect with the cruiser, the video showed.
"The suspect turns and points the weapon back in the officer's direction. The officer knew at that point he was in fear of his own life and had to make a decision to stop the threat at that point,” the chief told KPRC at the time.
Jones was subsequently charged with four counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated assault, Chief Bruegger said.
On Monday, a fifth aggravated robbery charge was added, KTRK reported.
Jones allegedly fired his weapon twice during that hold-up, according to the news outlet.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office requested that Jones be held on a high bond on two separate occasions, but both were denied.
Although Jones faces the possibility of “multiple life sentences,” Harris County 230th Criminal Court Judge Chris Morton released him again on his own recognizance, Chief Bruegger said.
“Our officers worked diligently to capture this suspect, endangering their own lives,” Chief Bruegger noted in the video release.
“It’s disappointing that you have a defendant charged with multiple violent felonies, including armed robbery and shooting at witnesses, that’s allowed to walk out of the front doors of the jail with just his signature [to assure] that he’ll appear in court again,” he said.
Chief Bruegger told KTRK that Jones is a “violent person,” and that his release into the community is a “threat to public safety.”
Jones’ attorney argued that he is required to wear a GPS monitor, must abide by a curfew, and is only allowed to leave to go to court, medical appointments, school, and her office, KTRK reported.
You can watch dashcam footage of the officer chasing after the armed suspect in the video below: