Grand jury declines to indict man accused of stabbing teens on TARC
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --After talking with six witnesses to the fatal stabbing of one teen and wounding of another on a TARC bus on March 16, it appeared police had a strong case and Anthony Rene Allen was charged with murder.
But despite the witnesses, including the bus driver, saying Allen was the instigator of the fight and pulled a knife, the charges against him were dismissed and Allen was released on Wednesday.
The reason, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said, was a TARC video of the altercation, which showed that while Allen had started yelling at the teens, he twice tried to flee and get off the bus but was unable and was struck by the juveniles.
"It's clear that there is a retreat on Mr. Allen's part," before the fight and stabbings, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Erin McKenzie said in explaining Kentucky's self-defense law. "It is clear that the juveniles initiate the physical altercation. When you apply the law to that, this is what you get."
Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine told reporters prosecutors showed a Jefferson County grand jury the video and explained the self-defense law, telling them "this would be a very difficult case to prove."
A person is entitled to use "deadly force" if they feel they are about to be injured or killed, Wine said.
The grand jury issued a "No True Bill," declining to indict Allen on charges of murder, assault and tampering with physical evidence.
A 13-year-old female was stabbed and wounded and 14-year-old Me'Quale Offutt was stabbed and was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m. last week at University Hospital.
Wine said the county attorney's office will review the video to see if any of the teens should be charged with assaulting Allen or other offenses.
Conrad said it took some time to get the video from TARC.
He pleaded for no more violence, asking that parents talk to their children about the reasoning for what the grand jury did, how the law was followed.
Police have said the stabbing was the inspiration for a vigil Saturday night in Waterfront Park. Violence broke out at the park and dozens of teens assaulted and robbed people for more than two hours downtown.
Community activist Christopher 2X also spoke with the media and asked that people remain calm, saying Me'Quale's grandmother has asked that there be no more violence.
"Me'Quale deserves justice but the law is not going to provide it," 2X said adding that he felt the video showed the law was followed. "The law is just not favoring Me'Quale right now."
Conrad showed members of the media the surveillance video from the bus, saying witness statements were not consistent with what the video showed. The surveillance video released to the media was edited; the grand jury saw the unedited version before reaching its decision.
The video showed Allen immediately start arguing with the bus driver, who notified TARC officials that he was being disruptive.
The argument with the driver continued as a group of juveniles - it appears to be six - got on and sat in the back at about 12:30 a.m. Soon, Allen started yelling at the juveniles.
At one point, he can be heard saying: "I'm a Blood, you wanna try me?"
Allen tried to exit the bus, but the driver doesn't open the door. Conrad said he didn't know why the driver didn't let Allen leave.
Eventually, the teens can be seen standing and approaching Allen as both sides continued yelling.
Shortly after that, Allen can be heard saying, "I don't want none of y'all."
A fight began and the juveniles appeared to beat Allen. A female yelled that she was stabbed.
It also appears as if one of the male juveniles fell to the ground.
Allen told the bus driver, "She hit me in my mouth," as the fighting stops briefly. A female tells him it was because he was messing with the bus driver.
Allen is then punched again and the fight resumes.
The bus driver then opens the door and Allen stumbles out.
Conrad said there are "going to be people in our community that don't agree with this decision," but that a person can use force to protect themselves.
"This is the way the criminal justice system works in our country," he said. "The law does allow the use of force, including the use of deadly force, to protect your life."
Conrad said he has not heard through social media of any plans for more people meeting at the Waterfront in the wake of the grand jury's decision but he was beefing up patrols.
In a letter to citizens Wednesday, Mayor Greg Fischer said "I share your concern and outrage about the violence" that occurred Saturday, saying it was "completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
Fischer said the city is beefing up its police presence at Waterfront Park, among other locations, and better monitoring social media to identify "problematic communications that can lead to dangerous situations."
Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.