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Was Poor Security Responsible for an Apparent Wrongful Death in Macon?

In September 2013, a teenager was shot to death at a Macon motel.

The accounts of the incident vary greatly between witnesses and police. What is certain is that 19-year-old Darius Washington – witnesses disagree whether he was from Macon or Warner Robins – was fatally shot in the chest at the Atlanta-area Scottish Inn located near the intersection of Eisenhower and Interstate 475.

Police assert that Mr. Washington was part of an attempted armed robbery in the parking lot, and that he was shot by the intended victim, who had seized Mr. Washington’s firearm. Witnesses, and the county coroner, state that Mr. Washington was involved in a dispute in a room, which spilled out onto the parking lot and there became violent and fatal.

Police state that they are looking for suspects and the investigation is still ongoing.

Negligent security

Regardless of whether the witnesses’ versions of events are accurate, the police report is correct, or the truth lies somewhere between, it appears that negligent security by the hotel may have contributed to Mr. Washington’s death. A landowner generally has a duty to keep premises reasonably safe for invited guests, especially if the guests are business invitees (paying customers).

To keep a location such as a hotel or apartment complex reasonably safe, certain minimum security measures should be in place:

  • Security cameras: Security cameras should always be operational in common areas such as lobbies, parking lots, hallways and stairwells.
  • Written rules that are strictly enforced: Most hotels have rules about guests under age 21 and alcohol consumption, two rules that, if in place, were probably not enforced the night Mr. Washington was shot to death.
  • Adequate lighting: There may be no greater enemy to building security than a dark hallway or dimly lighted parking lot.
  • Live monitoring: Security cameras are good, but there should also be regular security patrols on and around the premises.

A preventable, violent death is indeed a tragedy. For a free consultation with an Atlanta attorney who can help you deal with the consequences of such a tragedy, contact our office.