While one suspect was being released from jail after being exonerated of all charges, a second suspect in last month’s mass shooting at Bunny Friend Park appeared in court Wednesday as police scrambled to defend their overall investigation.
A witness has placed an armed Michael “Mack” Allen inside the Upper 9th Ward park on the evening of the Nov. 22 bloodletting, which wounded 17 people, police say. However, Allen’s defense attorney, John Fuller, claims a lie detector test will prove otherwise.
“I think it’s tragic that this detective is going around arresting patently innocent folks, as if they don’t have the same presumption of innocence as every other citizen,” Fuller said after the hearing.
Allen, 29, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night.
Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell set bail for Allen at $1.7 million after a back-and-forth between Fuller and Assistant District Attorney Michael Henn. But Cantrell said he wants to hold a hearing as soon as possible to weigh evidence that Allen may not have been at the park.
The judge cited District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s decision Tuesday to reject all charges against another suspect, Joseph “Moe” Allen, after his lawyers proved he was in a Houston shopping mall at the time of the mass shooting.
Joseph Allen, who is not related to Michael Allen, was released from jail Wednesday into the arms of his mother and wife.
“I don’t want to hold an innocent man in jail,” Cantrell said.
Police named two more suspects in the shooting Tuesday night: Allen “Snoop” Offray and Shawn “Shooter” Ruffin, both 22.
Two previously named suspects — Quendrick “C4” Bailey, 20, and Wilfred “Lil Wilfred” Celestine, 19 — remain at large.
Five other suspects are in custody, including Michael Allen.
Fuller said Allen was at a daiquiri shop, visiting with his mother and getting his vehicle’s rims fixed on the night of the shooting. He said he is arranging for his client to take a polygraph test next week, as well as searching for video surveillance that would prove he was not at the park.
Michael Allen has been convicted of illegal carrying of weapons in 2004, possession of cocaine in 2005, possession of marijuana in a separate 2005 case and possession of marijuana and cocaine in 2012.
“Despite the fact that it’s a high-profile case, proper steps should be made to ensure that innocent folks aren’t arrested,” Fuller said. “At this point, my client has become, essentially, the 18th victim.”
Cantrell set a tentative Dec. 21 date for Allen’s next hearing.
Attorneys for both Allens claim that political pressure led detectives to cut corners on the Bunny Friend shooting investigation. However, Police Superintendent Michael Harrison strongly defended what he called “great” police work and flatly rejected the notion of political pressure.
“We want to be thorough, and we want to, obviously, have the right people. That’s obviously the intent. Our investigators are very good investigators,” Harrison said Wednesday.
Harrison said he had spoken with Joseph Allen’s mother, Deborah, after her son was exonerated, and that police had worked with the DA’s Office on the case.
“We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.