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In the Wake of Secoriea Turner’s Murder, Questions Arise About A Business’ Failure To Respond To Criminal Activity Property

Eight-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot and killed by a group of armed men after her parents exited the Interstate and tried to pull into a parking lot at the 1200 block of Pryor Road. That’s near the Wendy’s restaurant where police officers shot and killed Rayshard Brooks last month. Over the ensuing weeks, the location has been a focus point for protests against police brutality, and it has unfortunately devolved into a hotbed of violent and criminal activity.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke about the violence occurring in the area. “There are peaceful demonstrators across this city and across this country, and I applaud them and I thank them for being peaceful and for honoring the lives of so many people who have been killed in America because of injustice.” Bottoms said according to The Washington Post. “But this is random wild, wild West, shoot ‘em up because you can, it has got to stop. It has to stop.”

But the violence is not completely “random,” as Mayor Bottoms suggests; it’s part of a pattern of violence in the area after some dangerous people take advantage of peaceful protests. The night after Secoriea Turner’s murder, two people were injured and one was killed in gunfire near the same location. Sadly, the violence was predictable, and therefore preventable.

Recognizing that violent criminals have made the location unsafe for employees and patrons, many of the businesses surrounding the Wendy’s where Brooks was killed have made the responsible decision to temporarily close their doors in the interest of safety. However, the owners of some businesses near the Wendy's chose to remain open despite the immediate and obvious threat.

Attorney Chuck Clay practices negligent security law in Atlanta. “People exiting the Interstate or passing by may not be aware of the danger in the area, but the business owners there are certainly aware,“ Chuck says. “Sometimes a location can become so dangerous that the only responsible thing to do is to temporarily shut the doors.”

Georgia law requires owners of commercial property to take reasonable security measures against known criminal threats. The higher the threat of violent crime, the more the law demands. The victims of violent crimes or their families -- can use the civil court system to hold property owners accountable for their failure to address known criminal threats.

By filing a lawsuit, families of violent crime victims can demand compensation for the loss of their loved-one, but more than that, they can make property owners answer for their inaction and negligence, and perhaps force property owners to recognize their responsibility to their patrons and prompt them to make changes necessary to keep their customers safe in the future.

Police can only do so much to deter violent crimes. Property owners, however, have the ability to take meaningful steps to make their properties more secure and less attractive to criminals -- and that includes temporarily shutting down when the area becomes unsafe. Families of crime victims have the power to hold property owners accountable and to demand change. In this way, we can help Make Atlanta Safe, one business at a time.

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