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LA police accidentally release murder suspect, say it "won't happen again"

Murder suspect Johnny Mata is still on the loose after a clerical error caused Los Angeles police to accidentally release him from jail.

Johnny mata murder suspectEnlarge
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's office accidentally released murder suspect Johnny Mata and is asking for the public's help in finding him. (LA Sheriff's office /Courtesy)

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials are blaming a clerical error for the accidental release of a murder suspect last month.

Capt. Chuck Antuna said suspect Johnny Mata was charged with murder for an alleged gang shooting in Baldwin Park in 2010.

Mata, 32, was released from the Los Angeles Inmate Reception Center in downtown LA on April 4 before a processing clerk entered a "hold" for him.

"A clerical error occurred and he was released," Capt. Antuna said.

"We are concerned and we are looking for the public's assistance in locating Mr. Mata. We consider him a danger to the community."

The sheriff's office waited nearly a month before alerting the public that Mata was missing.

Steve Whitmore, a sheriff's spokesman, said under staffing due to budget cuts lead to the error and that the empty positions have since been filled and an additional supervisor added.

“It no is excuse but the sheriff has insured it won't happen again,” Whitmore said.

Detectives turned to the public for help after failing to find Mata.

Antuna told the Associated Press that the department, which processes more than 150,000 inmate releases annually, has had seven similar errors since 2012. All those mistakenly released inmates were found, Atuna said.