It's the question everyone is asking: Why would police let Courtnee Brantley go?
After all, she was driving the car early Tuesday when police say Dontae Morris gunned down the officers.
Near the police memorial Wednesday, folks on the street were outraged.
"I think its preposterous," Aaron Adair observed. "She's an accessory to a crime. I don't know what else to think of it. It's ridiculous."
"We don't know how involved she was. She was in the car, she saw the whole thing," Marty Greenwald added. "I don't think she should be walking around."
"I understand, from the public, that level of frustation," offered Chief Jane Castor. "But my response to that would be the community needs to trust in the ability of the Tampa Police Department and our goal is to arrest Dontae Morris."
Even the mayor admitted her misgivings about the release.
"I know the police department is making the right decisions because I see it all first-hand. But yes, you can't help but have a problem with it, as a person; everybody does," Pam Iorio said.
Brantley was questioned for seven hours. Family members were there urging her to tell where Morris was. But police say she wouldn't help, and under Florida law, police admit there was nothing they could charge her with that would have kept her in jail.
There is no evidence, say legal experts and those close to the investigation, that she helped with the murders or aided Morris' escape.
"She may have been strictly a bystander -- wrong place, wrong time," explained defense attorney John Fitzgibbons. "It's hard to believe sometimes, but if Mr. Morris pulled a gun out suddenly, it may have surprised her."
Even the chief admits the troops are unhappy over Brantley's release. Her advice?
"Keep our emotions out of it. And that's what our detectives are doing. And they're doing a damn good job of it."
Chief Castor says in the end, Brantley may yet face charges.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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