Quintez Brown case shows need for reform of bail and mental health services

I don’t know why we can’t do better than that, why our only answer for someone accused of a crime that the lawyers say shows all the signs of mental illness, is to put them in a prison that cannot adequately care for him or keep him cool at home, where we do not know if he is receiving or can receive the treatment he needs.

But in the case of Quintez Brown, that’s where we are.

According to police, Brown, a former Courier Journal intern and student at the University of Louisville, visited the campaign headquarters of mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg on the morning of February 14, pulled out a 9mm handgun and opened fire.

Fortunately, Brown is not a good shooter and missed Greenberg and the four members of his team who were in the room with him. A bullet came close enough to Greenberg to rip a hole in the sweater he was wearing, however.

Quintez Brown on Broadway and Roy Wilkins Avenue on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Brown was charged with attempted murder and four counts of wanton endangerment. He pleaded not guilty. His attorney told the court he believed Brown was suffering from a serious mental health crisis and wanted Brown to see a psychiatrist immediately.

Those of us who know Brown think the attorney, Rob Eggert, is right.

It’s the only thing that could explain why Brown, a young man on a full scholarship to the U of L, a local leader in the social justice movement with dreams of becoming a civil rights lawyer, would do what he is accused.

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The problem is that our system is not set up to provide someone like Brown with the kind of help he needs in a timely manner.

On Saturday, 12 days after the shooting and 10 days after his release, Eggert was finally able to arrange for Brown to be evaluated by a mental health professional and asked a judge to allow him to leave his home for the appointment. .

Brown’s family said signs of mental illness emerged publicly last summer when Brown went missing for weeks after he got into a run-in with a security guard and was kicked out of a public swimming pool.

Flyers were handed out at the start of a search party Tuesday for missing UofL student Quintez Brown.  06/22/21

He was found two weeks later on a bench in New York, Eggert told the court.

Three-quarters of all mental illnesses appear before a person’s 24th birthday, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Brown is 21 years old.

After his arrest, Brown was not going to receive the intensive treatment he needed at the understaffed Metro Corrections jail, which for the past two months has failed to keep six inmates alive. The most recent death occurred when Lesley Starnes hanged himself in his cell.

This led Brown’s friends in the Black Lives Matter movement to break him out of jail, where they feared he could hurt himself.

So, to step up the Louisville Community Bail Fund to pay $100,000 to break Brown out of jail and back home, where he is to remain while being monitored with a GPS-equipped anklet.

But despite Eggert’s desire to get himself checked out by a psychiatrist immediately, there is not much hope that he will receive intensive treatment at his parents’ home.

That’s if you can even find a mental health facility to treat him.

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League and attorney and former district judge, said getting psychiatric help for many people charged with crimes in a timely manner is nearly impossible because psychiatrists and other mental health providers are under strain.

“Depression is up, anxiety is up,” she said. “Everything is in place. You are going to have to deal with a lack of available beds.”

Additionally, she said some health care providers would likely be hesitant to treat Brown. “There will be places that don’t want to be involved in the case because it’s very high profile,” she said.

It takes six months to get into the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, which really specializes in determining whether someone charged with a crime is fit to stand trial. This was not raised as an issue in Brown’s case.

And the lawyers tell me that you can’t even get into Central State Hospital or the psychiatric ward at University Hospital unless you’ve been involuntarily committed.

Meanwhile, some of those who were in the room when Brown opened fire are grappling with the fact that he’s been released from prison and fear he might strike again.

Greenberg said everyone who was there was retraumatized by Brown’s release.

Other than Greenberg, people I spoke to who were in the room or had family members there asked not to be identified. They have not been publicly identified and fear Brown, especially now that he has been released.

“Nothing comforts me about this house arrest thing,” said one person whose significant other was in the room when Brown allegedly started shooting. “It seems like if he’s a determined person to finish the job, he’s going to finish the job.”

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Some are struggling with post-traumatic stress, exacerbated by Brown’s bail.

A Greenberg staffer who was in the room when filming began told me he went to a cafe near his home a few days later when the stress set in.

Someone entered the restroom near his table and took longer than expected. “I kept thinking, ‘What’s he doing in there? What’s taking so long?

Visions of guns and thoughts of a murder scene flashed through his mind, and he fled.

Several of the people in the office, including Greenberg, told me they had seen counselors or psychiatrists since the shooting.

So how did this happen?

District Judge Annette Karem, who was required by Kentucky law to set bond for Brown, doesn’t have much ability to order that Brown be held in a secure mental institution without his family or anyone else involved. no one else is seeking a psychiatric warrant against him – and, even then, they need evidence beyond the fact that he walked into an office in the middle of the day and shot him.

Nobody asked for such a warrant.

Brown’s mother, Cecilia Brown, declined to comment.

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And most defense attorneys won’t want to turn their client over to state psychiatrists whose findings could be used in court against their client’s interests, anyway.

Meanwhile, Republicans are playing political games with it.

State Representative Jason Nemes uses the issue to push his bill that would ban bail funds like the one who posted Brown’s bond. He came up with the idea after protesters charged with petty crimes in the months following Breonna Taylor’s death were bailed out.

He rewrote the bill on Wednesday to allow bail funds to exist but limit their use to cases where the bail is $5,000 or less.

But all his bill will do is keep more poor people locked up awaiting trial on minor charges, while people with money are allowed to go free.

With Brown, we don’t talk about minor charges.

This makes things more difficult. But that doesn’t change the fact that Nemes’ bill would keep Brown locked up in a facility that isn’t qualified to meet his psychiatric needs.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell uses the situation to do what he always does – inflame.

He went to the Senate on February 17 to denounce the “left-wing” activists who bailed out the alleged gunman, blaming them for everything from fires to murder to carjackings instead of addressing the issues laid bare. by Brown’s case.

Issues like bail reform. And mental health.

The point is, Karem should have had more leeway to send him to a secure psychiatric hospital for treatment — perhaps on terms a defense attorney would agree to.

But as it stands, the Kentucky Constitution says Brown must be released on bail, and courts have said bail must be reasonable — and $100,000 seems to be about the going rate for an attempt. of murder, according to lawyers and judges.

Now we’re stuck in a situation where Brown is at home and people who were in Greenberg’s office that morning are worried that the home incarceration tracking system isn’t working.

We know he only gets help if a psychiatrist or counselor is willing to make a home visit or if he gets help via telemedicine – since we know Eggert didn’t ask the court to allow him to leave his home, where he is under house arrest, for treatment.

Eggert declined to comment on what kind of help Brown is getting at this point.

We should make sure those locked up get the proper psychiatric help in the hope that they don’t hurt themselves.

Because, as horrific as the crime Brown is charged with, he shouldn’t deserve a death sentence.

Joseph Gerth can be reached at 502-582-4702 or by email at [email protected]

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