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Clayton County Shooting at Southwood Apartments Highlights Safety Concerns Throughout Atlanta

Police discovered the body of Daveat Morgan while responding to a 11pm 911 call on Monday, February 18. The 22-year-old was shot at Southwood Apartments at 6001 Trammell Road in Clayton County near Morrow, Georgia. Clayton County police have yet to identify any witnesses to the homicide.

According to television reports, residents of Southwood Apartments are rattled by the violence in their neighborhood. It raises questions about whether the property owners and the property management company are doing enough to keep the community safe. If that is true, the civil courts offer a way for the victims of violence and their families to seek justice.

Atlanta inadequate security attorney Chuck Clay says that legal precedent in negligent security and premises liability cases establish that when property managers know or should have known about risks to people on their property, they have an obligation to take steps to lessen those risks.

It is proven that access controls, proper lighting, monitored security cameras, and security guards make a property less attractive to criminals, and when properly deployed, will reduce crime in a community.

Atlanta’s Fox 5 reported that Southwood Apartments did employ a daytime security guard, but there was no security at night

Chuck Clay says, “Having daytime security is a good thing, but when you’re securing a residential community, you have to have security when your residents are most vulnerable and when crime is most likely to happen -- and that’s usually at night.”

In some cases, it becomes apparent that the security was really meant to protect the owner’s assets and its employees, not the residents.

Without any witnesses, it may be challenging for law enforcement to find Daveat Morgan’s killers, but that wouldn’t prevent them from pursuing justice in the civil courts. Chuck Clay explains that the foundation of a negligent security case is that management allowed or sometimes created an environment where a criminal act was foreseeable. “It’s a fill in the blank scenario,” Clay says. “With crimes of opportunity, if the property owners knew that conditions on a property were likely to attract a criminal, when someone inevitably becomes a victim of a crime, it doesn’t necessarily matter in civil court who the criminal was. The whole act was preventable.”

Police can only do so much when it comes to preventing crime. Property owners and managers, however, have the power to make modest investments in security measures that are proven to make communities less attractive to criminals. Violent crime is a rising problem in Atlanta, by educating property owners about what they can do to make their communities safer, we can help make Atlanta safer. When property owners know better but refuse to do better, we can hold them accountable.