A man charged with murdering a 14-year-old boy on a TARC bus has been released from jail.
The incident on March 16 led to what’s been described as a memorial on Saturday after which an estimated 200 teenagers committed a series of violent acts through downtown Louisville, leading to 17 incidents and 32 calls for police. The incident has led to pledges of increased visibility for police and plans for more surveillance of Waterfront Park and the Big Four Bridge.
On Wednesday, charges against Anthony Allen, 44, were dropped after a grand jury examined video footage of the March 16 incident and declined to indict.
Authorities said they charged Allen with murder, assault and tampering with evidence based on witnesses.
But the video shows Allen boarding the TARC bus near 34th and Broadway at about 12:30 a.m. He seems to shout at a group of teens in the back of the bus and the teens appear to become agitated. One of the teens stands and raises his fists, but Allen retreats. Then a girl approachs and appears to attempt to strike Allen. He retreated again and at one point during the confrontation tried to exit the bus, but the driver doesn’t open the doors.
The video shows teens punching and kicking Allen. In the fray two teens were stabbed and one, Me’Quale Offutt, died two days later.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said on Wednesday that a person has the right to use deadly force if their life is in jeopardy.
“This is a time when we are calling on parents to take time to explain to their young people that this is how the system works and this is how the law works,” he said.
Following Saturday’s string of violence, Conrad is asking for peace.
“I don’t want this tragedy to be turned into an excuse for more violence,” he said. “I think this is a time for cooler heads to prevail.”
Christopher 2X, a community activist, said once he watched the video he believed the self-defense and castle laws were not going to be Offutt’s “best friend.”
“I know the children aren’t going to understand this and they’re not supposed to,” he said. “Even though we might, and I know I feel, that Me’Quale deserves justice, the law is not going to provide it because of what that video shows.”
Conrad said the commonwealth attorney’s office has not ruled out charges against the teens involved.
TARC officials released this statement:
Safety is TARC’s top priority for our passengers, drivers and the general public. TARC is increasing security in and around our buses. We are also working with Metro Government and Metro Police in these efforts. TARC has not had an opportunity to closely review the video that was shown today and which has been in police possession. TARC will review all information available to fully understand what happened and to determine what steps can be taken to further improve safety and security. Our thoughts go out to the victims, families and others impacted by recent violence.