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Escaped Prisoner Claims He'd Been Riding Subway for 10 Days, NYPD Says

By Aidan Gardiner | January 9, 2017 9:16am
 Daniel Ortiz, 31, escaped from police around 3:30 p.m. near Seventh Avenue and West 12th Street.
Daniel Ortiz, 31, escaped from police around 3:30 p.m. near Seventh Avenue and West 12th Street.
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NYPD

MANHATTAN — A homeless man who escaped police custody as an officer took a phone call was caught Saturday after 10 days of riding the subway, he told the NYPD.

Daniel Ortiz, 31, was busted on Dec. 29 for shoplifting in Macy's and taken to Lenox Health Greenwich Village at 30 Seventh Ave. so he could be treated for bleeding wounds on his right hand and stomach that he had sustained during a fight three days before, sources said.

In the emergency room, a doctor asked the officer supervising Ortiz, a six-year veteran from Midtown South named Albert Belcher, to remove a shackle from one of Ortiz's legs and chain his hands to a bed, sources said.

While waiting for the doctor to return for an examination, Belcher walked away for four minutes to chat on his cell, only to return to find Ortiz in the wind and a set of manacles dangling from the hospital bed, sources said.

Ortiz, who was shirtless and still had a shackle on one of his legs, dashed into the 14th Street subway station at Seventh Avenue, sources said.

He told police he rode the subway for 10 days until he was caught in Penn Station Saturday as Amtrak police recognized him from wanted posters and turned him over to the NYPD, an NYPD spokesman said Monday.

Ortiz now faces an additional charge of escape, police said.

Belcher was suspended after Ortiz escaped for failing to safeguard his prisoner, officials said.