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Grand Jury Declines to Indict 4 Men on Downtown Mob Violence Charges

For months, Craig  Dean and three other young Louisville men faced the possibility of felony indictments stemming from the March 22 mob violence in downtown Louisville“I never thought March 22 would last this long,” Dean said today from the courthouse.

A Jefferson County grand jury minutes earlier had declined to indict Dean and the other three young men arrested following the outbreak of violence three months ago.If  convicted, the four men -- all cousins -- could have faced decades in prison. Instead  Dean, 20;  Shaquazz Allen, 18; Tyrone Booker Jr., 19; and Jerron Bush, 21, are free.Assistant commonwealth's attorney Leland Hulbert said the lack of available evidence made it "very hard" to bring a case that could prove the men were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.The men, dubbed by supporters as the "misidentified four," were arrested after a woman was robbed at gunpoint near 38thstreet.  Louisville Metro Police allege that on March 22 the four men approached the woman at the bus stop at Amy Avenue and Market Street, according to a police report. Police alleged that one of the men -- who is not identified in the police report -- pointed a revolver at the woman and demanded her purse. The group, including the gunman, then ran toward 39th Street.Police arrested Dean, Allen, Bush and Booker that evening and booked them on assorted charges, including robbery.  Police Chief Steve Conrad said the victim's fiancé was able to identify the young men.Allen and Booker were also charged a week later with assault and other charges stemming from a separate incident at First and Liberty streets. In that case, police said the duo threw a garbage can at a car and punched a woman who was driving it.As for the arrest on robbery charges, Tyrone Booker Jr. said the men were “just sitting” on the porch of their home near 39th street when four police cruisers arrived. Officers asked a few questions and then arrested them, he said.Hulbert, the assistant commonwealth attorney, said the gun used in the robbery and the items stolen in the incident were never recovered.Booker said he believes racial profiling was the basis for their arrest.“We will recover, but we won’t forget, it was a lesson learned about how the streets really are,” he said.He said he continued to have faith that he and his cousins would get justice, despite the misidentification."It took a while, but it worked," he said.Jan Waddell, the attorney representing the men, said he is considering legal action against LMPD.  He claimed that police conducted “suggestive identification procedures” that led to the arrest. He said he wants to change police procedures like this.“If that includes taking them to court on a civil matter, then so be it,” he said.Conrad downplayed the role that race played in the arrest.“These young men weren’t arrested because they were black," he said.  "They were arrested because they fit the description that had been given to us by a witness.”Waddell said evidence collected via cell phone data establishes the young men were not present in the area at the time of the robbery.“Without the technology it would have been the same old story of a white woman identifying a black man committing a crime and what are the chances of getting off on that, we don’t really know,” Waddell said.The case remains open and new evidence could be presented to grand jurors. Future charges are still possible, said Hulbert.But as far as these men are concerned, the case is over. Booker said the past few months have been a "set back" for his future plans of attending college and getting a job.He said it has been difficult to get a job with the pending charges.Finding a job is also a top priority for Jerron Bush, who has a son he supports.As for Booker Jr., his immediate plans are already set.  He wants to go home, eat a big dinner and spend time with his girlfriend.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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