LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Louisville mayoral candidate said Thursday that he was “traumatized” by the news that the man charged with drawing a gun and firing at him earlier this week had been placed on home incarceration.
Quintez Brown, 21, was arrested and charged with attempted murder shortly after Monday’s shooting in Louisville. The Democratic candidate, Craig Greenberg, was not hit by the gunfire but said a bullet grazed his sweater.
“Our criminal justice system is clearly broken. It is nearly impossible to believe that someone can attempt murder on Monday and walk out of jail on Wednesday," Greenberg said in a statement. “If someone is struggling with a mental illness and is in custody, they should be evaluated and treated in custody. We must work together to fix this system.”
A group called the Louisville Community Bail Fund paid the $100,000 cash bond on Wednesday afternoon. Under the terms of home incarceration, Brown has been fitted with a GPS ankle monitor and is confined to his home.
Brown, a social justice activist running as an independent for Louisville’s metro council, has been charged with attempted murder and four counts of wanton endangerment.
A judge has ordered Brown to have no contact with Greenberg or his campaign staff and said Brown cannot possess firearms. Brown’s lawyer said the man has “serious mental issues” and said he would undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Chanelle Helm, an organizer with the Louisville Community Bail Fund and member of Black Lives Matter Louisville, said the organization was worried he wouldn’t get the support he needed in jail.
“They do not have the resources to get mental health resources to people. We do that, we set them up with folks in our communities,” Helm explained.
Bail fund donors who disagree with the group's choice to post Brown's bond, Helm added, should learn more about “why we create bail funds in the first place.”
“Not everybody that’s in jail and prison are going to be nonviolent offenders with easy cases or cases that are low bail. We bail out folks because we can provide the resources and support that they need to get those cases handled,” she said.
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, the initial prosecutor on the case, called Brown’s release “frustrating.” O’Connell said in a prepared statement that state law calls for bond to be set in cases like Brown’s. He said prosecutors argued for and received a higher bond for Brown, an increase from $75,000 to $100,000 cash, and also requested home incarceration if Brown was released.
“However, the criteria of release should not be the ability to access a certain amount of money,” O’Connell said. “It should be the threat to the community and whether there is a history of non-appearance in court.”
O’Connell said his office has “kept the victim involved throughout the process.”
Sean Delahanty, a former Louisville criminal judge for two decades, said he felt the $100,000 cash bond for Brown was “substantial.”
“I’m sure that the judge who set the bond believed that the bond was going to keep the person in jail,” Delahanty said.
“Because how many people charged with murder have the ability to post $100,000 cash bonds? Before bail projects (existed), I would be willing to bet it was a rare occurrence.”
Delahanty said when there is a question of mental competency, there are tools the court can use to keep the defendant in custody while they undergo mental evaluations and get treatment, including having a defendant involuntarily admitted to a state facility for a period of time ahead of their trial.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed outrage at Brown's release in remarks on the Senate floor. He characterized the shooting as “what appears to be an assassination attempt against a Jewish mayoral candidate."
“Less than 48 hours after this activist tried to literally murder a politician, the radical left bailed their comrade out of jail," he said. “It is just jaw-dropping. The innocent people of Louisville deserve better."
But, pushback against Brown's release crossed the political spectrum.
Charles Booker, a Louisville Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, released a statement opposing Brown's release, insisting that “anyone who has been arrested for attempted murder — and is feared to be a harm to themselves and others — should be in custody.”
“The sad reality of our cash bail system is that it puts a price tag on crime without sufficient considerations for safety. This often keeps innocent people behind bars because they do not have the funds,” Booker said in a statement. “Meanwhile, a person charged with attempted murder can be released in 48 hours if they have access to enough money.”
Brown disappeared for about two weeks last summer. After he was found safe, his parents issued a statement asking for patience and privacy while they attended to his “physical, mental and spiritual needs.”
Louisville police on Thursday declined to comment on questions about security for Greenberg, who is continuing his campaign for mayor. An LMPD spokesman said they “do not discuss operational security matters.”
Brown is confined to his residence and must wear a GPS device, said Louisville Metro Corrections spokesperson Steve Durham. He said Brown acknowledged in writing that he understands he is required to remain inside and that his movement is tracked. If Brown moves outside the authorized area, Durham said, an alert is triggered and corrections officers respond.
A GOP state lawmaker, Rep. Jason Nemes of Louisville, told the Courier Journal on Thursday that he will introduce a bill next week that would allow voters to decide on a constitutional amendment allowing defendants to be detained without bail if they pose a grave danger.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.