Louisville Metro agrees to pay $1.5 million to four young men wr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro agrees to pay $1.5 million to four young men wrongly arrested in mob violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro government has agreed to pay $1.5 million to four young men who claimed they were racially profiled when they were wrongfully arrested on robbery charges the night of Louisville's mob violence a year ago.

The settlement was announced in a press release by attorneys for Shaquazz Allen, 19; Tyrone Booker Jr., 20; Craig Dean, 21; and Jerron Bush, 22, who were cleared by a grand jury on June 24.

Both County Attorney Mike O'Connell and Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad acknowledged in statements that an internal review revealed there were problems with the arrests.

"Our officers made a mistake in this case and they didn't follow proper policies or training," Conrad said.

However, Conrad said "there is nothing in the investigation that leads me to believe that the officers' actions were based solely on the race of the four young men."

The review showed that proper identification policies were not followed and the officers involved have been counseled and retrained, Conrad said, adding that a training bulletin was sent to the entire department.

"I believe that the errors made were due to the officers' inexperience as opposed to any deliberate act," Conrad said in the statement.

The press release from the attorneys for the four men indicated there would be a press-conference on Thursday morning where they and Dean would talk about the settlement. The attorneys, according to the release, would talk about the legal claims of the four men and “discuss a call to action regarding flawed witness identification procedures that have repeatedly resulted in egregious wrongful arrests and convictions.”

Dean, one of the "Misidentified Four" according to the release, will talk about what happened to him and his plans for the future.

County Attorney Mike O'Connell said in a statement it was determined in a review that while that identification method was appropriate and the officers were properly trained, they failed to "follow proper policy in this instance."

"The settlement takes into account the impact on these young men, including the more than 70 days they spent in custody, while also weighing the litigation risks to the city."

Attorneys for the men had not filed a lawsuit but were able to settle the case before the one-year statute of limitations ran out later this month, according to attorney Larry Simon.

After the grand jury cleared the four young men in June, Conrad defended his department's investigation saying officers “did their job,” following department policy and laws set out by the Supreme Court. 

At the time, Conrad said the four men 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 quoted 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.

In his statement Tuesday, Conrad said he ordered an administrative review of the case in June.

In a summary of the review, Conrad outlines the procedures officers followed in performing a "show-up", which is where a suspect is presented to a witness for identification. According to Conrad's review, the officers' show-up "did not fully comply with [LMPD] policy."

According to the document, officers allegedly failed to document the suspects' description prior to the show-up and performed the show-up with multiple suspects at once -- neither of which constitute correct procedure. 

The review also states investigating officers should have "attempted to obtain statements from arrestees" and "should have included a thorough search for further physical evidence."

The four teens were happy after the grand jury cleared them but "angry we had to go through this for months,” Booker said at the time. “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 at the time, saying 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 then. “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 told a reporter last June that 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 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."

You can read the full LMPD review here.  

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