Family members and neighbors gathered Sunday to mourn the death of 8-year-old Kayden Jones who was fatally shot at the Brentwood Heights apartment complex in southwest Atlanta. According to news reports, police say it’s unclear who fired the gun.
Many shootings at Atlanta apartment complexes go unsolved, and police are often unable to identify a suspect. While police can’t solve all violent crimes, it is well-known that landlords have the ability to take precautions that make their properties less attractive to violent criminals. By installing proper lighting, perimeter fences, access-controlled gates, visible security cameras, and even live security guards, property owners and managers can reduce crime on their property.
Not every community requires all of these security measures, but Georgia law requires that landlords take reasonable measures to protect tenants and guests from foreseeable risks. When there is a history of violent crime on a property, landlords have an obligation to increase security to match the crime threat. If they fail to take measures to protect residents, they could share liability should someone fall victim to violent crime on the property.
The apartment complex where Kayden was shot and killed has a history of crime, although it might be difficult for families who are new to the neighborhood to know that because the apartments currently known as Brentwood Heights has changed names several times, making it difficult to decipher the online reviews. Once one knows where to look, however, the online reviews send a stark warning. “Shooting all the time,” one reviewer warns. “Shooting every night,” says another.
If the police can identify and find the shooter, that person might face justice. However, the police cannot arrest the owners and managers of the apartment complex for failing to take reasonable measures to keep residents safe from known threats. It is up to the families of the victims of violent crime to stand up for their loved ones and use the civil justice system to hold landlords accountable. Only in the civil court system can a family pursue compensation for the loss of a loved one, and sometimes the compensation can be enough to force property owners and managers to make meaningful improvements to help prevent a similar tragedy from befalling another family in the future.
The law firm of Pratt Clay has fought for life-changing settlements and verdicts on behalf of survivors of violent crime and the families of victims killed by violent criminals. No amount of money can bring back a loved one, but many families find a sense of justice in knowing that they put up a fight and demanded the responsible parties be held responsible. If we can send a message to all property owners that they are responsible for the security of their tenants, we can help Make Atlanta Safe, one community at a time.