ST. LOUIS — A suspect in a domestic attack was taken into custody again Friday after he was initially let go within three hours of his arrest because he tested positive for COVID-19. The first arrest happened Jan. 4.

The second arrest came 16 days after a warrant issued by St. Louis Circuit Judge David Roither. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said their department took Payne into custody again Friday, with the help of the St. Louis County Police Department. 

 Joe Vaccaro, the chairman of the City of St. Louis Public Safety Committee and the 23rd Ward Alderman said when he heard about the release of Payne, he was outraged.

“Which means police now had to twice the work, none of this makes any sense,” Vaccaro said. “I’d like to know who could release somebody like that, they’re not the prosecutor and they’re not a judge, I think someone may end up going to jail over this.”

Vaccaro said he wants answers.

“He grabbed me and punched me in my face,” the victim said in an exclusive interview with Fox 2 News’ Andy Banker Thursday. We are not disclosing her identity.

“I was getting up he grabbed the pot of soup that he was cooking off the stove and threw it on my face,” she said. “He was armed, so I called police.”

Payne is charged with two counts of felony domestic assault. The victim said she lived with Payne, along with their teenage child who was home at the time of the attack. The victim said Payne was arrested after the attack but was released within three hours of his arrest because he tested positive for COVID-19.

“Having covid is not a free ride, a get out of jail card, it doesn’t make sense,” Vaccaro said. He said someone needs to take responsibility and has already requested the Public Safety Director and head of the jail to be at Wednesday’s safety meeting.

“If you’re not the judge or you’re not the prosecutor, letting someone go is illegal,” he added.

St. Louis Circuit Judge David Roither issued a warrant the day after the attack and release happened, which said that Payne was a danger to his victim and the community. 

Roither agreed with Circuit Attorney, Kim Gardner’s office, that Payne be held with “no bond allowed” pending an initial court appearance.

It took 16 days to arrest Payne again. On Thursday, the City of St. Louis Department of Corrections issued a statement that detailed that it was not solely responsible for which inmates get released.

“The City of St. Louis Department of Corrections (DOC) is working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among staff and detainees while working to keep the public safe,” she said.

Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah, the City of St. Louis’ Corrections Commissioner, released the following statement Thursday:

“While the DOC accepts COVID-positive arrestees, the DOC does not have the ultimate authority to determine whether COVID-19-positive arrestees who test positive are fit for incarceration. With input from local hospitals, as well as guidance from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, the DOC makes accommodations to isolate COVID-positive detainees who have been arrested. We will continue to collaborate with these departments on a case-by-case basis.”

The victim called for change in the City of St. Louis’ jail policies during an exclusive interview with Fox 2’s Andy Banker Thursday. 

“The victim deserves justice,” Vaccaro said.”Justice comes by them letting us know who chose to release this person even when the prosecutor sent the thing saying they wanted him held on no bond.”

Vaccaro said he will subpoena those involved if needed to find out who did this and how they will be held accountable.

Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. Payne’s attorney has not responded to questions from FOX 2 Thursday.