Rocky Lee Music, 32, was arrested in connection with two alleged carjackings in Dublin and San Ramon, committed just 40 minutes after he was released. (Photo – Alameda County Sheriff’s Office)

A Walnut Creek man with an alleged penchant for stealing cars drove his way last week into the controversy over whether Santa Rita Jail inmates should be released early from the Dublin facility to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Rocky Lee Music, 32, was arrested in connection with two alleged carjackings in Dublin and San Ramon, committed just 40 minutes after he was released on a court order from jail on zero bail. He had been arrested earlier in a stolen Ford van, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) said.

According to prosecutors’ reports, a witness called Oakland police about 7:30 p.m. April 19 when Music nearly drove a stolen car into Lake Merritt and fled. Police found him in Oakland, arrested him on suspicion of auto theft and receiving stolen property, and booked him at the Santa Rita Jail.

Music did not stay behind bars long. He was released later in the day as part of a policy to let inmates arrested on nonviolent offenses including auto theft go to reduce the jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities said.

Time of release, ACSO said in a Tweet: 7:23 p.m.

“Thirty-seven minutes after release, Mr. Music made his way to the Dublin BART station,” ACSO Sgt. Ray Kelly said. “Mr. Music decided to carjack a victim and take their car to San Ramon.”

According to a prosecution report, a motorist told police he was assaulted and robbed of his white 2011 Toyota Prius in the 5200 block of Campus Drive in Dublin. Deputies showed the victim a lineup of photos; he picked out Music, a police report said.

A report of the crime was broadcast to surrounding police agencies.

“At a gas station in San Ramon, he abandoned the first vehicle and attempted to carjack a second victim,” Kelly said. “That carjacking was interrupted by responding police units, and Mr. Music fled on foot to the Iron Horse Trail.”

Police searched the area for Music and found him trying to open a door of a building in the 6100 block of Bollinger Canyon Road. Music ran from them and kicked a police dog sent after him, the report said.

After deputies and the dog corralled him, Music was arrested and returned to the Santa Rita Jail.

By the end of the week, Alameda County prosecutors charged Music with violent felonies that kept him behind bars, including carjacking, unlawful taking of a vehicle and receiving stolen property.

“We believe he will not be released again due to the violent nature of his crime spree,” Kelly said.

The complaint filed in court shows Music has a lengthy criminal history. He was convicted of auto theft and burglary in Solano County in 2018; burglary in Alameda County in 2013; burglary in Solano County in 2012; and assault in Solano County in 2016.

Two weeks ago, Alameda County’s District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Public Defender Brendon Woods clashed over Woods’ call to release inmates from the jail to stem the spread of COVID-19.

O’Malley accused Woods of grandstanding when he called for her and judges to release inmates with sentences of six months or less to serve.

Woods made the request after a dozen inmates and two staff members had tested positive for coronavirus by April 9.

O’Malley said she was balancing public safety with efforts to reduce the jail population.

On April 13, the California Judicial Council issued a policy mandating law enforcement impose $0 bail for arrestees held for low-level felonies and misdemeanor crimes. Normally, many of those inmates would have to pay cash bail for release while awaiting court dates, but state authorities imposed the new policy to try to reduce the possibility of a massive a COVID-19 spread behind bars.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, ACSO had reduced the Santa Rita Jail population at 2,597 on March 1 to 1,746 on April 27.

Through that date, authorities reported that the jail had nine inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19 and 23 formerly positive inmates who had completely recovered. Two formerly positive inmates who had recovered were no longer in custody; and one inmate who had tested positive was also released. SRJ has two current positive staff/contractor cases; one has completely recovered.