Quintez Brown, the Louisville activist accused of trying to kill mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg in a Valentine’s Day assassination attempt, was arraigned in federal court on Friday afternoon. Through his lawyer, he pleaded not guilty to the two federal charges he faces in relation to the shooting, which could carry a life sentence if he is convicted.
Brown is charged with Interference with Federally Protected Activities for allegedly shooting at Greenberg and Use and Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence.
A federal indictment says Brown shot at Greenberg because he “had been campaigning as a candidate for mayor of Louisville in a primary election, and in order to intimidate [Greenberg] from campaigning as candidate for mayor of Louisville in a primary election. The offense involved an attempt to kill [Greenberg].”
Sitting alongside his attorneys in the downtown federal courthouse, Brown watched the proceedings silently, only speaking to say “yes, sir” to U.S. District Judge Colin Lindsay when he was asked if he understood the charges and the penalties associated with them.
The courtroom appeared to be at capacity with journalists, members of Brown’s family, activists and government representatives crowding the the pews.
Brown will have a detention hearing next Friday, with his attorneys pushing for him to be released from federal custody. His attorneys requested that the prosecution hand over any exculpatory evidence related to Brown’s mental health, and Judge Lindsay ordered the prosecution to comply with that request by Wednesday.
Brown was taken into custody by federal agents this week while he was on home incarceration for state-level attempted murder and wanton endangerment charges over the Feb. 14 shooting at Greenberg’s Butchertown campaign office.
On Feb. 14, he was arrested by Louisville police officers close to the campaign office with a pistol in his possession just minutes after the shooting. He was released from jail and put into electronically-monitored home incarceration two days later after the Louisville Community Bail Fund paid his $100,000 bond.
Greenberg and four staffers in the office were uninjured, but Greenberg said a bullet passed so close by that it pierced his sweater.
Speaking to reporters over the drone of West Broadway’s traffic after the hearing, one of Brown’s attorneys, Patrick Renn, said he believed the federal arrest was in violation of state-level orders that he be held on home incarceration.
“He couldn’t just walk away to a friend’s house. He couldn’t walk to his attorney’s office without having some kind of release,” he said. “In this case, the federal government, acting through its agents, came in, to his home, snatched him up while he was in his pajamas and took him out of the house in violation, in my view, of the District Court and the Circuit Court orders in Jefferson County.”
Renn said that in a city that is full of homicide and attempted homicide cases, Brown’s case is being handled in a “highly unusual” manner.
In a motion filed Friday, Renn asked that the case be dismissed, saying that federal agents “unlawfully seized and arrested” Brown and arguing that the federal government lacked jurisdiction given that Brown was already held on state charges. Renn also wrote that Brown was already being held under conditions that assured he would show up in court and that the community would be safe.
Asked earlier if he thought Brown would be treated differently if he were white, Renn said: “All I can tell you is he is a Black man and his case isn’t being handled in state court, where all the other murders and attempted murders and gun discharge cases start and finish. This is something highly unusual.”
He added that he believed the charges were unfair and constituted double jeopardy by being prosecuted for the same crime twice.
Ahead of the hearing, Black Lives Matter Louisville had called on supporters to come down to the courthouse for the hearing.
In brief remarks after the hearing, Black Lives Matter Louisville organizer Chanelle Helm spoke out against the charges and politicians weighing in on Brown’s case.
“I think we’re really understanding how the system is designed to work,” she said.
A prominent activist who once wrote columns for the Courier Journal, Brown, 21, had shown aspirations of holding elected office before he was arrested.