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In wake of cop-killing, deep-red Alabama struggles with low and no cash bail

Violent criminals securing release and committing repeat offenses due to low or no cash bail practices has become a prominent issue as crime increasingly weighs on the minds of voters.

Published: March 31, 2023 11:06pm

The recent shooting of two Huntsville, Alabama police officers has drawn scrutiny from law enforcement over the practice of low or no cash bonds for violent offenders and highlighted the county district attorney's lenient handling of such incidents.

In a Tuesday night incident, Huntsville officer Garrett Crumby died while fellow officer Albert Morin was hospitalized after suspect Juan Robert Laws, 24, allegedly shot them both. The officers were ambushed while responding to an incident in which Laws allegedly shot a woman.

Laws is currently incarcerated at the Madison County Jail without bond and is facing a murder charge. He has, however, run afoul of the law previously, leading law enforcement advocates to point the finger at District Attorney Robert Broussard for not putting him behind bars sooner.

Laws faces two second-degree assault charges stemming from a January 2022 arrest involving an alleged bar shooting, according to 1819 News. He was granted bond of $3,000 per charge and those charges are currently before a grand jury.

Shortly after that incident, he was again arrested, this time for carrying a pistol without a permit. He pleaded guilty and was required to surrender the weapon and pay both $300 and court costs, but the court did not revoke his bond for the two assault charges.

Retired New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik on Thursday blamed Broussard directly, raising his prosecution of former Huntsville Police Officer William Darby for his 2018 killing of Jeffrey Parker. At "the same time Broussard was targeting Darby ... Juan Laws was charged with shooting two people last year, and Broussard never took Laws before the grand jury," said Kerik.

"Three nights ago," he continued, Laws "shot two Huntsville POs, killing one ... Broussard was so interested in targeting a cop that had done nothing wrong, did his job exactly the way he was trained, he let Laws run the streets until he killed a cop! If Broussard did his job, Laws would have never killed this cop!"

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall "should have him removed, and intervene in the Darby case and stop this outrageous prosecution," Kerik declared.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals earlier this week reversed Darby's murder conviction and sent the case back to the trial court, ruling that Broussard had not provided the jury with proper instruction on police officer training when dealing with an armed suspect, WHNT reported.

Darby has contended that his actions were entirely in line with standard protocol and police guidance. 

Violent criminals securing release and committing repeat offenses due to low or no cash bail practices has become a prominent issue as crime increasingly weighs on the minds of voters.

Alabama Fraternal Order of Police President Everette Johnson says such cases have become pervasive nationwide and that multiple police deaths have motivated state lawmakers to address the matter.

"There is huge frustration in the law enforcement community," Johnson told Just the News in a phone interview. "It's all over the country, not just here."

He's hopeful the latest officer death will push the Legislature to stop "low and no bail releases" of violent offenders.

Lenient district attorneys, in particular, have provoked widespread criticism and voter backlash.

Numerous progressive DAs, often funded by left-wing megadonor George Soros, have pursued policies of pursuing minimal criminal sentences, often with dire results for their cities.

San Francisco, for instance, recalled DA Chesa Boudin in 2022 as critics pointed to surging crime in the city. A similar effort materialized against Los Angeles DA George Gascon, though he managed to keep his job.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, now pursuing business record-keeping charges against former President Donald Trump, has come under fire for his habit of downgrading felonies and his "Day One" memo indicating that he did not intend to prosecute a litany of crimes.

Broussard's office has not responded to a request for comment.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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