Detroit chief slams $3K bond over shot at cop

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Police are livid after a 17-year-old who allegedly shot at a Detroit cop last week was given a lower bond than people arrested for painting graffiti on buildings.

Andre Shontez Lee was charged with felonious assault for allegedly firing a round at an officer during a foot chase Tuesday. At Lee’s arraignmentThursday, 36th District Magistrate Bari Blake Wood set bond at $30,000, allowing him to be freed if he paid 10 percent, or $3,000.

That’s less than half the bond given last year to renowned street artist and alleged graffiti violator Shepard Fairey. Fairey’s bond was set at $75,000/10 percent. A personal bond of $5,000 was set for three Grosse Pointe teens who spray-painted buildings downtown in 2014.

“That’s beyond ridiculous,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Sunday. “Across the country, police officers are being killed; what kind of message does this send to allow (Lee) to get out for only $3,000?

“I just can’t let this go without saying something. You just can’t shoot at a cop and get a slap on the wrist.”

Lee had not posted bond as of Sunday evening, and was locked up in the Detroit Detention Center, said Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody.

Attempts to reach the magistrate for comment Sunday were not successful.

Lee and a companion were walking in the middle of the street on Detroit’s east side at about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, when officers from the 5th Precinct ordered them to the sidewalk, Woody said.

“They didn’t comply, so the officer stepped out of his squad car,” Woody said. “Before he could get his feet on the ground (Lee) takes off running.”

During a foot chase, Lee allegedly turned and fired off a single round at the officer from a 9 mm handgun, Woody said.

“The officer returned fire; neither person was hit,” he said. “But (Lee) got away.”

The gun was recovered, and police cordoned off the area. “There was a school nearby, and it was on lockdown for a few hours,” Woody said.

A helicopter and tracking dogs were employed. About two hours after the shooting, police found Lee hiding in an abandoned building.

Craig said the low bond given to Lee is especially rankling because of the recent spate of officers being killed in the line of duty — 26 this year, with 14 in March alone.

“Judges have to be mindful that what they do can be a deterrent,” Craig said. “That works the other way, too. You shoot at a police officer, and you can be back on the street after posting just $3,000? Something is very wrong here.”

Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association union, also slammed the low bond, which he said “expresses (the magistrate’s) value of the lives of the protectors of Detroiters.”

“By setting a $3,000 bond for someone who tried killing a police officer, she is clearly a detriment to the safety of our community,” Diaz said.

Woody said Lee has a previous criminal conviction, although because he was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, his record has been expunged.

Lee pleaded guilty in 2014 after stealing a car and fleeing a police officer.

“He did six months’ probation, and because he was charged under HYTA, after he did his probation, the charges were dismissed,” Woody said.

Under HYTA, state law allows defendants between ages 17 and 20 who plead guilty to be sentenced or .complete the youth program. Once successfully completed, there is no criminal record.

Magistrates and judges have discretion when it comes to setting bond, said University of Detroit-Mercy law professor Lawrence Dubin.

“There are no guidelines, but there are factors that exist for a judge or magistrate to review in setting a bond,” Dubin said. “Those include potential danger to the community, flight risk, and nature of the charges. It’s subject to the reasonable discretion of the judge.”

State Sen. Virgil Smith, who also was charged with felonious assault before entering a plea deal for the lesser charge of malicious destruction of property, was granted $25,000 bond. Smith fired several rounds at his ex-wife’s car.

Police often are angered over bond amounts set by judges and magistrates. In 2014, Craig called for a summit with Wayne County judges and Prosecutor Kym Worthy after a Detroit man was accused of trying to kill a rival, granted $10,000 bond, and then shot the victim again.

Another bond that ticked off police: Angel Birch, charged with slashing Officer Joel Dobris in the face with a razor blade, was given a $25,000 bond.

Dubin said bonds are subject to review by a district court judge.

“So it could be changed; it’s not permanent,” he said.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN