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Another Woman Slips Handcuffs and Shoots Two With Deputy’s AR-15



Rachael Zion Clay slipped her handcuffs and shot a deputy and a bystander with a deputy's AR-15 on Aug. 12, 2022. (YouTube/Grady County Sheriff's Office)
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One day after a woman slipped out of handcuffs in the back of a Fresno County Sheriff’s SUV, drew a concealed handgun, and traded shots with deputies, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, whose department is investigating the incident, said:

“It’s not uncommon that a female suspect, you know because they are a little bit more limber, smaller hands, they sometimes can slip out of their handcuffs.”

Indeed, the same day — Aug. 12 — that Balderrama addressed the incident making national headlines, an Oklahoma woman escaped her handcuffs, grabbed an AR-15 in a deputy’s vehicle, and shot a deputy and a civilian bystander, resulting in injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

The Oklahoma woman, Rachael Zion Clay, 36, surrendered to authorities and is being held on $1 million bond.

As for the Fresno suspect, Mariah Spate, 30, she was wounded by a deputy and is being held in jail without bail. She faces multiple felony charges.

Watch: Suspect Slips Handcuffs, Shoots 2 in Oklahoma

Do Women Regularly Escape Police Handcuffs?

Was this a coincidence, or do women regularly escape handcuffs after being arrested?

Well, on Aug. 17, a woman slipped her handcuffs and escaped from a Bronx precinct only to be arrested later by NYPD fugitive enforcement officers.

Last month a North Carolina woman suffered major injuries when she escaped her handcuffs, lowered a rear window, and jumped out of a moving police car.

In June of last year, a South Carolina woman took off running from the back of a police car and when authorities caught up to her she had one hand free of the cuffs.

That happened in Hartsville, South Carolina, where four years earlier a woman got out of her handcuffs in the back of a patrol car and tried to damage the vehicle.

Deadly Ending

This chilling case happened in November 2020 in Alabama’s Calhoun County. A handcuffed woman in a deputy’s cruiser wriggled out of one of the cuffs, produced a Glock, aimed at the deputy, and pulled the trigger. Fortunately for the deputy, there wasn’t a round in the chamber. He then shot and killed the suspect.

Bottom line: All police agencies should ensure that officers are trained to properly secure limber or small-wristed suspects — regardless if they are a man or a woman.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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