Grand jury declines to indict four men accused in March 22 mob v - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Grand jury declines to indict four men accused in March 22 mob violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad defended his department's investigation and arrest of four young men who were cleared by a Jefferson County grand jury on Tuesday, saying "this is exactly how the system is supposed to work."

While the men say they were victims of racial profiling and shoddy police work in the wake of the March 22 mob violence downtown, Conrad said, "our officers did their job," following department policy and laws set out by the Supreme Court.

Conrad said the four men - Shaquazz Allen, 18; Tyrone Booker Jr., 19; Craig Dean, 20, and Jerron Bush, 21 - were all identified on March 22 by the fiance of a woman who was robbed two blocks from where the boys were found sitting on a porch by police.

The four men fit the general description of the attackers - young, dressed in hoodies - and the man with the victim said he was positive they were responsible, saying, "I would never forget a face; these are the men," Conrad said in an interview.

With the positive identification, the location of where the men were found close to the attack and their general descriptions fitting those of the attackers, Conrad said police had probable cause to make arrests.

If he had to second guess his officers, Conrad said he wished they had gotten a search warrant for the home the boys were at on North 39th and the car they said they had been driving, to see if any of the victim's belongings could be found.

But he said there is no reason for an internal investigation into the arrests, as far as he is concerned.

"Our officers were given a tough job," Conrad said. "I think based on what I know, they did the best they could with the information they had."

The four teens were jubilant this afternoon after the grand jury cleared them but "angry we had to go through this for months,” said Booker. “The system isn’t always fair.”

Booker said the teens were targeted by police because “We was the only ones on the street at the time." Booker and Allen were also exonerated on charges of unlawful imprisonment, criminal mischief and assault in a separate case.

In that case, Conrad said police again had eye witnesses who were victims of the mob violence and, after seeing pictures of the teens on TV, identified them as the attackers.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Leland Hulbert, who presented the case to the grand jury, also defended the police work but said that as more evidence came in, including cell phone records that show the teens weren’t in the area during the downtown mob attacks, prosecutors realized they couldn’t prove the teens were guilty.

But he stopped short of saying they were innocent or wrongly arrested, insisting that police had probable cause to make the arrests. Both Conrad and Hulbert added that a District Court judge found there was probable cause to allow a grand jury to decide the case.

“We can’t say 100 percent sure they didn't do this" but there was not enough evidence to convict at trial and he recommended the grand jury not indict, Hulbert said. “I’m not prepared to say LMPD did anything wrong in this case.”

Conrad also said he couldn't be positive the men had nothing to do with the crime, but was satisfied that the justice system worked the way it is supposed to. He said police couldn't wait months to get cell phone records and leave potentially violent criminals on the street.

But the teens and their families – who hugged and cried outside the courtroom, politely answering questions by the media - said police wrongly charged the kids based on flawed witnesses identifications with no other evidence.

Craig Dean, 20, said he was relieved now but has been on house arrests spending “every night thinking about facing 20 years (in prison) for something (I) didn’t do.”

Shaquazz Allen, 18, said he spent two months in jail, lost his job, and missed graduating with his class at Waggener High School because police “accused the wrong people.”

Asked whether he believed he was the victim of racial profiling, Jerron Bush said, "I certainly do."

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