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Reasonable Security Measures Could Have Prevented the Murder of Douglas Stevenson at River Walk Apartments

Management at the Macon, Ga apartment complex could be held partially liable if they failed to take reasonable steps to reduce crime in their community

Douglas Wilmale Stevenson was found dead in his vehicle, shot multiple times just hours before his 23rd birthday. He was parked at River Walk Apartments in Macon, GA around 9:30 PM on May 12, 2020. WMAX13 reports that a large crowd had assembled when an altercation broke out and shots were fired. Bibb County investigators are searching for possible suspects. There has been no reporting that suggests Stevenson was involved in the conflict, and there is a distinct possibility he was either a bystander or the victim of a crime of opportunity.

There has been an outpouring of grief and messages of support for Stevenson’s family on Facebook, with friends characterizing the young man as kind and close with his family.

While apartment community owners and managers can’t be held accountable for everything that happens on their property, if they chose to ignore warning signs of criminal activity, and if they failed to provide proper security measures such as adequate lighting or functioning gates, then they could share liability for violent crimes that occur on the premises.

River Walk Apartments has mixed reviews on Google. Some residents have complained of people stealing packages, teenagers causing trouble, and there are multiple complaints of poor maintenance and failure to keep common areas clean. Atlanta attorney Chuck Clay says, “These signs of neglect for basic maintenance often indicate that more important issues, such as the security of residents, aren't being adequately addressed.”

Chuck says it is up to the families of the victims of violent crimes to stand up to apartment managers and property owners. Georgia law provides crime victims and their families a way to seek justice using the civil court system. If the victim of the crime had a legitimate reason to be in the community, and if it can be shown that management didn’t provide reasonable security measures to counter known potential threats, then they can be held partially liable for violent crimes committed on property.

Help Make Atlanta Safe

While we rely on law enforcement to track down criminals and bring them to justice, it is property owners and managers that have the power to take reasonable efforts to secure their properties and make their communities less attractive to criminals. By using the civil justice system, victims of violent crimes can put pressure on property owners to help make Macon safe.

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