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Why Did Three Criminals Choose Alta Mill Apartments to Commit a Home Invasion Robbery that Led to the Death of Daquan Murphy?

Three teens broke into the home of 22-year-old Daquan Murphy at Alta Mill apartments and shot him during a home invasion robbery. Police documents show that around 1 a.m. on January 14, the teens entered the apartment and shot the occupant, “causing the victim to suffer pain, visible injuries, and internal injuries which ultimately led to the death of the victim.”

Cobb County police have identified and arrested the suspects, killing one suspect who fled and resisted arrest. The others have been charged and will face the criminal justice system -- but that might not be the final word on the issue.

Some properties are more prone to crime than others. Atlanta attorney Chuck Clay says, “One of the questions we ask in a case like this is ‘Why did those suspects choose this particular community to commit their crime?’ Poor lighting and malfunctioning gates can make a property more attractive to potential criminals.”

An online review complains of crime at Alta Mill apartments and claims the front gate “doesn’t work ever.” Other reviews call out maintenance problems and complain of visible trash on the property. “When criminals see a community neglecting obvious maintenance issues,” Chuck Clay says, “those criminals assume the management is not investing a lot of resources into security for their tenants.”

Georgia law requires property owners and managers to take “reasonable” efforts to provide security. While “reasonable” is a subjective term, property owners are expected to be aware of documented crime that occurs on premises and provide appropriate security measures to deter known threats. When they fail to make reasonable efforts to secure their property, they can be held accountable in the civil justice system.

Chuck Clay says it is up to the victims of violent crimes, and their families, to stand up for themselves and hold property owners and managers accountable.

Law enforcement can only do so much to deter crime, but if property owners would invest in access controls such as gates, provide adequate lighting, visible security cameras, and when warranted, security officers, then we would likely see crime rates fall in these communities. By using the civil justice system, we can force communities to make the changes to Make Atlanta Safe.

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