A judge has released a suspected car thief that investigators say led police on a dangerous chase in Monmouth County, and Sheriff Shaun Golden is furious about it.

"It’s outrageous that, after spending two weeks in jail, the net result for this offender is released on supervision, all due to a broken bail reform system," Golden wrote on his department's Facebook page.

The Case

Dayvon Savage was among four people police say were found riding in a stolen BMW in October. When the car crashed in Holmdel, investigators say, Savage fled the scene and hid from police. He was eventually found, and arrested.

He was charged with multiple offenses, including obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, eluding police by flight in motor vehicle with the risk of injury and unlawful taking. Savage had been held in the Monmouth County Jail until his court hearing this week.

News12 New Jersey detailed the court proceedings that resulted in Savage being released. They reported while the prosecutor argued for continued incarceration, the defense successfully argued the case amounted to little more than "joyriding," and painted Savage as a high school graduate, a father and otherwise model citizen.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul Escandon agreed, and released him without bail.

Sheriff Golden noted in his comments that Savage had been previously arrested on illegal gun charges, but it is unclear if that information was considered by the judge.
The Reaction

Before New Jersey enacted controversial bail reform measures, it is likely Savage would have been held until trial or released only on monetary bail.

Golden has been a vocal critic of those policies, and was infuriated when he learned Savage was set free by the court.

"We can now add another brazen offender to the list of the more than one hundred individuals, who were released in a two year period, in connection with similar circumstances of second and third degree auto theft,” Golden wrote, "Its abominable how, in broad daylight on a busy weekend in Monmouth County, that residents are placed in jeopardy and police officers in danger, causing a state, county and local law enforcement response, including helicopters and drones, and a hospital lockdown, as a vehicle and foot chase ensued."

Monmouth County Sheriff
Monmouth County Sheriff

When Gov. Phil Murphy signed bail reform laws in July of 2020, he claimed it would make New Jersey a fairer state.

"I've been clear that New Jersey will be as aggressive as any state in the nation in our efforts to reform a criminal justice system that has largely failed our Black and Brown communities for far too long,” Murphy said. "These measures promote a greater degree of professionalism in law enforcement hiring practices and ensure that young people and formerly incarcerated individuals who are re-entering society are provided with a meaningful chance to reach their full potential."

Critics claim the reforms allow habitual and violent criminals back on the streets to offend again.

Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Merlin Thomas went so far as to say, "It (bail reform) impacts the community to the point where people can't feel safe in their own homes."

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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