The District man charged in the Sunday killing of a Florida police officer walked away from a D.C. Corrections Department halfway house in May, three days after he was sent there by court and law enforcement officials who were unaware he was wanted for escaping from St. Elizabeths Hospital in 1986.

The man, Albert Richard Holland Jr., 32, is the second escapee from a District halfway house in the past 15 months believed to be responsible for killing a police officer. The first, Jamie Martin Wise, 34, was killed by Alexandria police on March 22. Wise had fatally wounded Alexandria police Cpl. Charles W. Hill, 40, last year.

Yesterday, D.C. police, corrections officials and court officers were trying to determine how a string of apparent procedural failures resulted in Holland's freedom and his alleged role in the slaying of Pompano Beach police officer Scott Winters, 28.

Paul Quander, deputy director of the D.C. Corrections Department, said in a statement last night that the department is "filled with remorse concerning the recent death" of Winters, is "concerned about what has happened here," and is "examining the occurrences, and will make improvements for a better criminal justice system."

It was unclear yesterday how the Pompano Beach police were able to determine quickly that the suspect in Winters's death was actually Holland, and that he had been arrested here last year using the name of Robert Diego Gomez. District police apparently hadn't made the connection previously between Gomez and Holland.

Holland, who is being held without bond, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Winters, who was trying to arrest Holland in connection with the sexual assault and severe beating of a woman. Shortly before 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Winters radioed police that he had the assault suspect in custody, and then reported that he had been shot.

He died about an hour later of two gunshot wounds to the groin and lower abdomen. Both wounds were below the area covered by Winters's bulletproof vest, and police said one of the bullets was flattened when it apparently struck the vest before tearing into his body.

A short time later, Holland was seen waving a gun about two blocks from where Winters was found. But when he was taken into custody, Holland was not armed. Winters's gun was later found in an area strewn with construction material near where Holland had been arrested, Pompano Beach police said yesterday.

Sgt. Scott Gooding, the detective investigating Winters's death, said police are trying to piece together Holland's criminal record, which includes not only arrests in the District but also convictions in Prince George's County and New Jersey.

Officers in Florida also are trying to determine how and when Holland arrived there and how he had spent the time since he walked away from the halfway house here in May.

Gooding said it appears that Holland arrived in Atlanta by bus in June. Residents of the area where Winters was killed said they first saw Holland there on Sunday.

According to records on file in D.C. Superior Court, Holland, using the Gomez alias, was arrested in the 1300 block of Park Road NW last Nov. 28 in what sources described as a routine drug case. A police affidavit said the man known as Gomez was arrested after police witnessed an alleged drug transaction in the hallway of an apartment building and recovered 15 small bags containing crack.

According to the affidavit, when several officers tried to arrest the man, he struck one in the chest and yelled out, "Next time I'll kill you {expletives}, it took two of you. Next time you turn around I'll have a gun for your {expletive}."

Howard Bransom, who was appointed to represent Gomez, said yesterday that a $1,000 bond was imposed on Gomez primarily because he had no ties to the local community. Bransom, who said Gomez showed no unusual behavior, said there was no indication that his client was really Holland.

After a hearing on March 30, D.C. Superior Court Judge Cheryl Long ordered Gomez placed in "intensive third-party" custody. He was transferred to a halfway house on May 4 and three days later didn't return after signing out to go to a Social Security Administration office.

Neither Long nor corrections officers were ever notified that Gomez was Holland, who walked away from St. Elizabeths Hospital in 1986 shortly before a scheduled hearing on his possible release. Sources said police checks when Gomez was arrested should have revealed his true identity.

Under police procedures, and depending on the nature of the criminal charge, a suspect is photographed and fingerprinted. Most suspects are processed through the department's identification records division, which allows officers to check an individual's criminal history, if one exists.

The department computerized fingerprint records in the early 1980s, and nearly all existing prints were entered into the new system. Lt. Reginald Smith, a police spokesman, said there were cases in which the quality of the prints was so poor that they could not be entered into the new computer, and that in such cases the only way to obtain these records now is to conduct a manual search.

A police official, speaking on condition that he not be identified, said the problem with matching Holland with his alias may lie with the poor quality of the original prints, which dated to the 1970s. "One of the issues is whether the computer was able to detect the print," he said. Staff writer Paul Duggan contributed this report.