DA on threats: ‘We cannot let that happen’

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 23, 2016

District Attorney Tom Anderson said his office acted swiftly once it became aware of a social media post targeting Troy police officers.

“The post referred to the law enforcement murders in Dallas and said essentially ‘while you’re at it, I nominate …’ and named at least five other police officers,” Anderson said. “We cannot sit on our hands, especially with the undertone nationally, and let that happen.

“Nobody should answer anything with murder.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Javon Keontre Pryor, 20, of Troy, was arrested July 13 and charged with making a terrorist threat against a police officer. He was being held in the Pike County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Anderson said the arrest warrant for Pryor was issued within hours of his office receiving a copy of the Facebook post made on July 8.

“It’s my understanding the warrant was issued that night,” Anderson said.  “Police weren’t able to apprehend (Pryor) until later.” Pryor was arrested when he appeared in court for a hearing relating to another charge.

The decision to seek an arrest stemmed from the nature of the comments, Anderson said.

“This is the first time, that I’m aware of in my 12 years as a prosecutor, that we’ve dealt with this,” Anderson said. “You had someone going on social media and basically calling for the assassination of officers known to them …

“This platform is open for the masses to see.”

Anderson said that whether the individual posting comments took action or those comments incited someone else to act, the culpability remained the same. “The statute says the threats can be by reckless or intentional means,” Anderson said.

Pryor’s criminal record played no role in the decision to issue the arrest warrant, Anderson said.

Pryor has been charged with attempted murder in connection with a December 2015 incident on Gibbs Street that involved shots fired into an occupied vehicle. He also has been indicted on first-degree assault charges in connection with a July 2014 incident that blinded a then 17-year-old man. Pryor was in court seeking youthful offender status in that case when he was arrested.

“After discovering the posts and given the circumstances, I would have told them to seek an arrest warrant no matter who it was,” Anderson said. “The conduct in and of itself merited the charge.”

Assistant District Attorney Jon Folmar said Pryor’s bond for the assault charge was suspended after his arrest.

Pryor is subject to a hearing on Aug. 8 that would determine whether he receives a new bond or not. A grand jury will decide whether to indict on this new charge. If indicted, Pryor will then face a jury trial unless he chooses to plead guilty.

Michael Bunn, Pryor’s attorney, called for the public to refrain from judgment in the case.

“I have the upmost respect for our police department,” Bunn said. “The American legal system is designed so that those who stand accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With the concerns in other places in America right now it would be easy to assume the worst, but I would ask the public to refrain from judgment.

“The allegations will be investigated by the police and by my office.”