A prosecutor revealed Thursday that police believe a New Orleans man had both a drug and alcohol in his blood when he crashed into nine bicyclists, killing two of them, on Esplanade Avenue early this month. A court commissioner refused Thursday to reduce the man's bail.

As friends of the victims looked on, New Orleans Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman rejected arguments from Tashonty Toney’s defense attorney that he would pose no danger to the public if released.

Friedman said he did not believe that Toney would pose a flight risk, given his close family ties to New Orleans. But he said he was not satisfied with a defense proposal for home incarceration and an electronic ankle monitor.

"I don't believe that it would completely arrest the possibility that he would become intoxicated and drive his vehicle," Friedman said.

Defense lawyer Ralph Whalen had said Toney, 32, cannot make his current bail of $510,000 and requested its reduction to no more than $135,000.

A prosecutor with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office took strong exception during the hearing, however, saying that Toney had already proved that he is a serious threat to the public.

"The defendant's bond is so high because his crime is so great. There are a number of victims in this case," Assistant District Attorney Abigail MacDonald said. "He committed so many crimes when he was driving drunk."

MacDonald also revealed for the first time that lab test results suggest that there was a drug in Toney's blood at the time of the March 2 crash.

However, she did not say which drug or at what levels. She referred only to a "controlled dangerous substance," which can also include legally prescribed drugs. 

Police said Toney was driving a Chevrolet Camaro at a high rate of speed riverbound on Esplanade when he veered into a bike lane. Nine cyclists were hit; two died. They were Tulane law school graduate and Seattle attorney David Hynes, 31, and local nonprofit leader Sharree Walls, 27.

Toney refused to submit to a breath test for alcohol at the scene. However, police said last week that a blood sample drawn hours later registered his blood-alcohol level at .14.

Investigators believe that based on the rate at which the body metabolizes alcohol, Toney’s level was around .215 at the time of the crash, or nearly three times the legal limit for drivers of .08.

Anything over .20 is considered a crime of violence under Louisiana law, raising Toney's potential criminal penalty.

Several friends of Walls and Hynes were present in court for the hearing. Afterward, a lawyer for Walls' family said he was satisfied with the commissioner's decision.

"The Walls family is interested in making sure the community stays safe," Ron Austin said.


Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.