Killed community activist’s family planning to sue Savannah, apartment complex for death

A supporter holds a sign in honor of Shawntray Grant at a vigil.
A supporter holds a sign in honor of Shawntray Grant at a vigil.(WTOC)
Published: Dec. 17, 2018 at 6:05 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The family of Shawntray “Puff” Grant, a Savannah anti-gun violence advocate shot and killed at an apartment complex in June, plans to sue the city, the Housing Authority of Savannah and the complex management group for his death.

Family attorney Chad Mance said the Grant family is seeking $5 million dollars from the city of Savannah, The Savannah Housing Authority, LEDIC Management Group, No Punches Pulled Security, and Hitch Phase II, L.P. in the wrongful death suit, according to Mance’s intent to sue notice.

"If we can save just one life because he gave his life, then I think he'll be smiling down on us," Mance said.

In his notice to those the family intends to sue, Mance says The View at Oglethorpe, the HUD apartment complex where Grant lived and was shot and killed on June 15, "had not taken adequate security measures for the protection of the public" when Grant was killed despite being located in a "notoriously high-crime area of Savannah."

"Where this happened is in a very dangerous area," Mance said. "There have been efforts to sort of rehabilitate the area and introduce safer mechanisms, but we want to look at the systems and the behaviors in the area that may have given way to the violence, the pattern of violence, the practice of violence in the vicinity that manifested in Mr. Grant's death. Everybody in this area knows the history of where he died."

Mance said The View at Oglethorpe sits where Hitch Village, “one of Savannah’s most notorious housing complexes,” once stood and “fights, burglaries, assaults, and other violent crimes are known to occur on or in a close vicinity to the premises and its approaches.”

His notice states witnesses reported seeing several masked men with guns near the time and place Grant was killed who left the area slowly and "behaved as if they had no fear of security, no fear of camera footage or evidence of their crime, and no fear of them ever being discovered as Grant’s murderers, in addition to familiarity with The View."

“Gunmen should not be allowed to be comfortable committing a murder on private property,” Mance said. “They shouldn’t be familiar enough with the private property to commit the murder, and there should be a greater presence in a high-crime area for residents. If we trust our complexes and our government, for example, to provide equal protection to all of our citizens, why can’t we trust our government to provide equal protection to folks that it makes money off of? We want answers. Why did it happen?”

In the six months since Grant’s death, no one has been arrested or charged. Mance said Monday a suit can move forward whether anyone is arrested or not, but pleaded for anyone with information to share it with police.

Mance also states a security guard at the complex heard gunshots but didn’t call the police. When asked why the notice says the guard replied, “'I always hear gunshots in this are,' implying that the regular sound of gunshots renders the need to call police or inspect the premises for safety threats a nullity.”

The notice also states The View at Oglethorpe only had only one visible security camera inside a stairwell, no entrance or exit gates for residents, and sent inadequate and inconsistent notices to residents about crime.

“We can take greater measures to prevent unnecessary violence to residents,” Mance said.

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